Stanley Kubrick Holds the Record for Longest Continuous Film Shoot Ever


The big picture

  • Stanley Kubrick's perfectionism led to a 15-month shoot for
    Eyes tightly closed
    pushing the cast and crew to their limits.
  • The tension between real-life husband and wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the film fueled mistrust on screen.
  • The film explores themes of marriage, success and the danger of not appreciating what you have.

Legendary director Stanley Kubrick he is known for his innovative concepts and his management style. His attention to detail and perfectionism have made his films masterful works of art. He was known to frequently request dozens of takes for a single shot, much to the dismay of the actors and their producers. So it's no surprise that it holds the record for the longest continuous shooting of the 1999 erotic psychological drama. Eyes tightly closedstarring Tom Cruise like Dr. William “Bill” Harford and Nicole Kidman like his wife, Alice Harford. The two actors were also real-life husband and wife during filming. Principal photography began in November 1996 and would be completed in June 1998. Kubrick's relentless pursuit of perfection led to many script changes and numerous takes, leading to a cast, crew and low morale. Kubrick would use this tension between husband and wife to fuel the on-screen mistrust between the film's couple as they descend into the strange world of the private sex parties of the rich and powerful.

Eyes tightly closed

A Manhattan doctor embarks on a strange nocturnal odyssey after his wife admits to an unsatisfied longing.

Publication date
July 16, 1999

Stanley Kubrick

Execution time
159 minutes

'Eyes Wide Shut' was director Stanley Kubrick's last film

Eyes tightly closed it's a film about decadence from the very first frame. Bill is a successful doctor, married to his beautiful wife Alice, blessed with abundance, and an adorable daughter. Stanley Kubrick fills each frame to the breaking point with the everyday elements of Harford's family life. The richly decorated walls communicate the couple's high lifestyle, while the rest of the assorted bric-a-brac demonstrates the domestic nature of the family. The Harford family is good, beautiful and accomplished, but Alice is bored with their abundance. Alice is intrigued by the fact that an older gentleman finds her sexually desirable at a Christmas party the couple attends. Later in the evening, Alice addresses her desire to spice things up with her husband. She confesses a desire to have sex with other men, and even though she hasn't acted on those desires, it's enough to send Bill down a sexual rabbit hole..

Stanley Kubrick died six days after completing it Eyes tightly closed. The film is spontaneous, as reflected in its many rewrites that keep the actors on their toes, and is filled with an unbalanced mood between the couple. Kubrick fills his paintings with decadent colors, a red and blue motif that signals the character's transition to elite hedonism. Take, for example, a fateful discussion between Bill and Alice. Bill is assured of his wife's loyalty, believing in her innate goodness as a wife and wife. He idealizes her, and Alice, bored and petulant, takes offense at this interpretation of her. He dances between the light and comfort of his room and the dark blue room on the right side of the frame. A dance between the comfort of family and the familiar and the excitement and darkness of the world of debauched promiscuity. What Kubrick was trying to say about the nature of human sexuality, marriage, or the rich and powerful is unknown. But his attention to detail, while legendary, has never been sharper. Their pursuit of perfection drove the shoot into overdrive, pushing Cruise and Kidman to the breaking point..

Why did it take so long to shoot 'Eyes Wide Shut'?

Filming lasted 15 months, including an uninterrupted shooting period of 46 weeks, the longest on record according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Kidman and Cruise were hired to work for only six months, but stayed on until the closing date. Another actor, VinessaShaw, who played Domino in the film, was hired to work for two weeks and stayed for two months. The film would take an emotional and physical toll on its stars, with Cruise developing an ulcer from the workload he was trying to avoid from the director. Kubrick would use this tension between husband and wife to fuel the on-screen mistrust between the film's couple as they descend into this strange new world. Vanity Fair too reported that Kubrick forbade Cruise and Kidman to compare notes on the script, keeping the pair in the dark about what the other was doing.. This ignorance of each other's activities fuels suspicion between the characters.

Kubrick's relentless perfectionism and meticulous attention to detail are a product of his desire to accurately portray the joys and sorrows of marriage and the success and danger of not appreciating what you have. It seeks to destroy people's idealization of marriage and replace it with a humanistic image rooted in honesty about who and what we are and our true feelings. Kubrick put his cast and crew through the same pace as Bill and Alice. The tension between the couple is so effective because it's real; Kubrick is a master of creating an environment where the genuine feeling he is trying to portray comes across perfectly in the film. A similar environment of isolation was present on the set of The brilliant, having put Shelley Duvall through a series of similar tortures to invoke her baffling performance as the terrified mother. Although his methods may be controversial, the perfection of his films cannot be denied.

Eyes tightly closed is available to rent on Amazon in the US

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