People may laugh at this notion, but EYES WIDE SHUT is an important directing touchstone for me, regarding my episodes on both GOSSIP GIRL and PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. I’m fascinated by stories about power, wealth, sex, and death, and though they may seem glib and superficial, many teen dramas revolve around these same themes.
I’m particularly intrigued by Tim Krieder’s essay about EYES WIDE SHUT:
From the essay: “Certainly a subtler psychological reading of the film than has yet been attempted would be possible. But to focus exclusively on the Harford’s unexamined inner lives is to remain willfully blind to the profoundly visual filmic world that Stanley Kubrick devoted a career’s labors to creating. The slice of that world he tried to show us in his last—and, he believed, his best—work, the capital of the global American empire at the end of the American Century, is one in which the wealthy, powerful, and privileged use the rest of us like throwaway products, covering up their crimes with pretty pictures, shiny surfaces, and murder, ultimately dooming their own children to lives of servitude and whoredom.”
Also, this podcast with Tim Krieder has some fascinating insights:
My favorite quote from Krieder could sum up the feelings of most of my teen followers on twitter: “You get lied to about a lot of stuff growing up, or let’s be kinder about it and say ‘sheltered’ from a lot of stuff. Grown-ups don’t want you know about sex and death for most of your childhood, and all that stuff comes as something of a rude surprise when you get clued into it. Then any art that seems to rip the facade off of things is very appealing to adolescents, so lots of them develop this affinity for very dark, pessimistic, misanthropic art.”
For me, teen drama becomes a fertile field for exploring misanthropic ideas, and allows one to riff on the themes of power, sex, and death, in the guise of a soap opera. I’m always drawn to the darker, black comic stories in my episodes, and my specific thoughts about the narrative and characters are indicated by the framing and blocking of the scenes, even if they’re not immediately evident.
EYES WIDE SHUT is a film I return to again and again for inspiration. In any case, I hope to likewise inspire some teen somewhere to dive into the obsession that is “contemplating Kubrick,” and to see that he was telling stories that are as relevant today as they were when he was shooting them.