We’re a little over 20 years past the premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, the director’s last film that, at the time, divided audiences and critics. It wasn’t exactly hated, but, well, there’s an infamous orgy scene and people are prude. That and the dynamic between then-real-life married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman dominated the discourse in 1999, but today, it’s considered another one of Kubrick’s masterpieces. Moody, dreamlike, sometimes downright creepy — it has aged well.
“How well?” you might be asking. Well, there hasn’t yet been a stampede through the doors of indie bookstores to buy copies of the 1926 novella by Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler the film was based on, and the Snackwell’s Devil’s Food cookies Kidman munches on during one scene haven’t become 2019’s hottest culinary item. But beyond the fact that die-hard fans have had time to watch and rewatch every single scene in the film over the last two decades, thus wringing new meaning out of a fairly dense film (not to mention Kubrick’s untimely death lending an air of mystery to the entire production), there’s one other thing that’s breathed new life into Eyes Wide Shut: people love to participate in orgies now.
No, I’m joking. Well, at least I think I am. What you do in the comfort of your home with 50 strangers in Venetian masks is totally up to you. What I’m really talking about is design, and more specifically, holiday design. America’s most prominent politicians appear to be drawing their inspiration from the darkest Christmas film ever made.
During her stay in the White House, Melania Trump’s choice in Christmas decorations has, much like Kubrick’s 1999 film, drawn a lot of mixed reviews. There was the 2017 version that really wouldn’t have looked too out of place in a Dario Argento film. Last year’s was pretty much the same thing, inspiring plenty of memes along the way.
This year, it seems we’ve gone from Dr. Seuss on a bad acid trip to something maybe a little inspired by Kubrick’s vision for what the rich and secretive do behind closed doors. When the 2019 decorations were made public, more than a few people commented on the very Eyes Wide Shut vibe. One person took it a step further, and set the video of the First Lady showing off the decorations to the sound of Jocelyn Pook’s music for, yes, the orgy scene.
But a love for the cinema is something anybody can celebrate, no matter what site of the aisle they stand on. Just this week, Pete Buttigieg, who is trying to convince some Democratic voters that he’s not a narc or a cynical opportunist, threw a fundraiser in a Napa Valley wine cave with a chandelier that contained 1,500 Swarovski crystals. The lavish party wasn’t cheap, and after pictures of the decor were leaked, one Twitter user noted something very familiar about the whole scene:
Notice how one of those things is not like the others? The photo on the bottom left is Nick Nightingale from Eyes Wide Shut providing the soundtrack to the rich and powerful having their infamous orgy in a mansion. While I’m not sure the lighting is what the notoriously fickle Kubrick would have liked, and I’d say Mayor Pete’s soirée (which cost close to $3,000 a plate) looked more like the blander opening-scene party than the more engrossing orgy one, it’s shows yet again that Kubrick was maybe on to something.
One has to assume that Buttigieg didn’t want people seeing or knowing much about what was supposed to remain hush hush. And that — maybe more than the actual decor — is what makes the whole thing feel like Kubrick’s 1999 masterpiece.
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