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Kubrick's condensed NYC
March 25, 2013 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Follow Tom Cruise as he navigates his way around Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut Greenwich Village set

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posted by Blazecock Pileon (29 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eyes Wide Shut would've been so much greater if it had been filmed on location in NYC. But that's an impossible dream.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:58 PM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The sound stage is one of the best parts of the movie, the way Cruise's character keeps circling the same locations and people and obsessions all while trying to prove to himself that he's not just a product of his environment, that he Matters and can Make His Own Decisions, all while that same damn mailbox with its telltale graffiti keeps popping up on every street corner.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:13 PM on March 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


The best essay ever written about this movie: Introducing Sociology.
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on March 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


so THIS is how my blogs make people feel.

:(
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:16 PM on March 25, 2013


EWS was shot for more than a year, you can't really tie up real city streets for that long. The fake NYC set probably took up as much studio space as he was allowed to since he was using that space for so long. The fact that it's somewhere in the uncanny valley between a real city street and an obvious fake movie set makes the dream-like atmosphere of the movie work that much better.
posted by octothorpe at 1:17 PM on March 25, 2013


Especially the one rear-projection shot (featured in the trailer) which just looks jarringly out of place in the film and is right before (I think?) the drunk hooligans accuse Tom Cruise of being gay. (He can't go anywhere without everyone reacting to him sexually, even though he is entirely incapable of following through.)

(I love this film to pieces.)
posted by shakespeherian at 1:21 PM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


That article is a cleverly-designed test of the reader's fortitude, with the true payoff being the blueprints for Dana & Louis's apartments in Ghostbusters.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:24 PM on March 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


That shot of Alice at the dance with the Christmas lights behind her is at once so beautiful and so creepy that it's almost distracting from the action.
posted by The Whelk at 1:25 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is amazing. I love it.
posted by Weebot at 1:25 PM on March 25, 2013


I also adore the way Bill turns off the soundtrack when he and Alice are getting ready for the party at the beginning. It's a trick I've seen done in plenty of other films but for some reason in Eyes Wide Shut it doesn't seem smug like it does elsewhere.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:28 PM on March 25, 2013


Vocab word of the day: that soundtrack that comes "from within the scene" is an example of diegesis.
posted by glhaynes at 1:47 PM on March 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hate that reviews of Glee taught me that word.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:56 PM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The sound stage is one of the best parts of the movie, the way Cruise's character keeps circling the same locations and people and obsessions all while trying to prove to himself that he's not just a product of his environment, that he Matters and can Make His Own Decisions, all while that same damn mailbox with its telltale graffiti keeps popping up on every street corner.

But isn't this just an inevitable byproduct of filming on a soundstage? Does this mean that every single film shot on a soundstage that re-cycles street scenes is trying to say something about the irreality of the environment or its inescapability or its constructedness or what have you? What, in other words, make this particular instance of this familiar fact about soundstage-movies a "motivated" one where others aren't?

Imagine for a moment that Kubrik had shot this on location. I'd bet we'd find Kubrik obsessives mapping out all the location shots and discovering that "OMG, this scene which is meant to be a cab ride away from this scene was actually shot just across the road!"--and they'd freight all kinds of interpretive schemes on top of that knowledge (the movie is exploiting the gap between the fictional city and the real city to emphasis the artificiality of the filmic universe etc. etc.). But, again, isn't that just the nature of location scouting? You look for places that hit the right story notes and don't cost too much to film in, not for places that "make sense" in terms of the character's movements through the real city.
posted by yoink at 2:06 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vocab word of the day: that soundtrack that comes "from within the scene" is an example of diegesis.

Protip: This is film-theory terminology, not film-professional terminology (though there may be overlap). I have spoken to audio professionals who work in film who rolled their eyes at me when I said 'diegetic.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:14 PM on March 25, 2013


Kubrick was a famously organized (obsessive) and meticulous (totally insane) filmmaker with regard to visuals, if it's there, it's in there for a good reason almost 90% of the time . There are very few filmmakers you can do this kind of nit-picking with - and the constant repetitions of the store signs and graffiti and newspaper headlines in the background reenforce and comment on Bill's story and the story Bill is telling himself.

Or, put another way: Any decent director would've noticed the horrible continuity error of having the same sign and locations pop up again and again and again and would have had a set re-dressed or shot/edited around to make it less glaringly obvious that HEY LOOK THIS IS A SET. That it's that obvious is the point, cause I doubt one of the most anal technical directors ever would make such a first-year blocking mistake. (see also the distruption of the 180 degree rule in the bathroom scene in The Shining).

Kubrick was always annoyed that people didn't really watch movies, they listened to them, so none of the actual plot tends to take place in the dialogue, it's in the frame.
posted by The Whelk at 2:15 PM on March 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


What, in other words, make this particular instance of this familiar fact about soundstage-movies a "motivated" one where others aren't?

Nothing about this instance makes it motivated-- that question doesn't even make sense, as far as I can tell. It stands to reason that it was motivated, given what we know about Kubrick (who had a filing cabinet full of photographs of New York doors so that he could find the right one for Domino's building). But whether Kubrick intended it or not is beside the point-- it's a thing that I notice when I watch the film. It's in there: When I watch this character scurry about his life, desperately trying to convince himself that he's not bothered by finding out his wife has an internal life, desperately trying to convince himself that he, too, has an internal life, desperately trying to prove to the world that he has free access to everything and can Get Whatever He Wants, that he is In Control and His Own Man, I observe several things: Colors which seem to haunt Bill; bald men who follow him down shadowed streets; the way he insists upon telling everyone 'I'm a doctor!' even when it's irrelevant; the way that everyone reacts to him sexually but he is incapable of sex; the way that the more he attempts to exert control, the more it's obvious he has none, nor any idea what's going on around him; the way that everywhere he goes seems sort of artificial and temporary, like a film set.

On that latter: maybe it wasn't on purpose. I don't particularly care, although I do think it was on purpose. But pretend it was an accident: it's still there, it still adds to the dreamy quality of the film, it still adds to the impression that Bill is lost and manipulated by things he's too stupid to understand. Which is the whole movie. And it works, and the artificiality of the sets help it work, so if it was an accident, it was a beneficial one. And the fact that it works is one of the things that makes it such a fantastic film.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:35 PM on March 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kubrick was a famously organized (obsessive) and meticulous (totally insane) filmmaker with regard to visuals, if it's there, it's in there for a good reason almost 90% of the time

He's also famous for shooting within his budget, which could be another reason why the visuals are the way they are.
posted by zippy at 3:12 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recall Kubrick saying in an interview about the Shining that the spatial impossibilities in the Overlook Hotel have no specific meaning - it was just quicker and easier to shoot the way they did.

I was mostly disappointed by the depiction of the "blue food" the aliens fed Bowman in 2001. The book was so much better!
posted by KokuRyu at 3:56 PM on March 25, 2013


For the record I do think people nit pick the geometery seen in The Shining way to much and end up ignoring the bigger visual motifs in the movie ( oh look the astronaunt and the indian are locked inside with a murderous pioneer!) but I think the claustrophobic, maze-like NYC set in EWS is totally eliberate.
posted by The Whelk at 4:00 PM on March 25, 2013


I have spoken to audio professionals who work in film who rolled their eyes at me when I said 'diegetic.'

They probably just didn't know the word and assumed you were trying to sell them on a cheap knock-off of Scientology.
posted by The World Famous at 5:02 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I haven't seen Eyes Wide Shut, but from the pictures I doubt I'd notice the fact that it's the same buildings. But if this is "glaringly obvious", does anyone have any examples of movies that were made in the same way (mostly on a single soundstage, etc.) where it isn't obvious, where they really manage to fake it well? It's always interesting to see these kinds of uncanny, almost real spaces, and especially the boundary between them.

(On that topic, I recall an article that made the rounds--probably it was on mefi at some point--about a megalomaniacal Eastern European film project that had actors living on set for months or years, and allegedly hundreds of thousands of extras, and issued their own "passports" to visit the movie set. Couldn't find it now but maybe someone else remembers it.)
posted by simen at 5:03 PM on March 25, 2013


I don't know about that one, but Tati's Playtime had a set so massive it had its own power plant.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:11 PM on March 25, 2013


Here it is: the movie set that ate itself.
posted by simen at 5:22 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's interesting is that people don't really have a problem with it, these things becomes justified somehow because maybe they've already given their belief to the story. I think if you ask most people how could The Bride fight O-Ren in a snow-laced garden that sits outside the second floor of a restaurant in the middle of a densely populated city, a city that minutes before was experiencing sunny and clear weather, then people will generally just go with it and use post hoc reasoning if it doesn't match up somehow. Not that Tarantino did the same thing as Kubrick, and you could easily explain it away, but it is the same movie magic. It works if it works. I also think it is well within reason for people to ponder why it was done that way beyond the idea that was how the set was built.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:57 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Shoe Leather" is what someone in the Film trade had told me was Cruise's deliberate sidewalk pace in EWS..

As shakespherian says, "diegesis" is a secret-word unspoken outside of film-theory..
posted by ovvl at 6:24 PM on March 25, 2013


I keep asking this : Why is every street a dead end in the exterior street scenes? I noticed this, Surely Kubrick noticed it or intended it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:40 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are they actually dead ends, or are they just T junctions?
posted by The World Famous at 8:24 PM on March 25, 2013


A commenter says he had access to this set after filming ended and that many of the signs and graffiti were painted backwards.
posted by gubo at 7:39 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they're T Junctions not dead ends.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2013


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