Comments on Eyes Wide Shut – Discreet Connections Between the Nathanson Apartment and the Billiard Room Scene (and a Question of Filming Location)

Juli Kearns Cinema, Kubrick 10 Comments

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  1. Spot on, Juli.
    I’ve always been curious about the room Rosa walks out of, and your research is very enlightening.
    Gonna have to re-read your analysis soon.. didn’t realize that the Harford bedroom is impossible!

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  2. Great post.

    Ziegler’s pool room seems to me definitely a set. Note the obvious fake-looking quality of the buildings seen out the windows. This was definitely intentional by Kubrick. Also remember the similar fake views out the windows in Bill and Alice’s bedroom, seen in the opening scene. The effect is jarring, reminding of German Expressionism much more than any sort of realism. The same is true for basically all the views out of windows — in Domino’s room, in the backroom at Millich’s, etc. They all have a generic kind of “city buildings/apartments” view that just further feeds into the films hermetic dream-world/city aesthetic.

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  3. Oh, forgot to add: the Nathanson apartment is a set. See for example: http://www.archiviokubrick.it/opere/film/ews/fotoscena/setews18.jpg
    and several other interesting photos from this page:
    http://www.archiviokubrick.it/opere/film/ews/fotoscena.html

    So it seems that K very well might’ve re-used parts of the Nathanson set, like the red-carpeted room we catch that glimpse of, for the Ziegler billiard room (and indeed perhaps other scenes). I certainly agree with you that Ziegler’s room doesn’t match up to any pictures of the supposed place it was shot at; that, along with the little architectural flourishes it shares with the Nathanson set, leads me to think it’s just a set as well.

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      Thanks, that confirms what I supposed, that the Nathanson apartment was a set. And my reasoning was that the billiard room was a set as well and shared the same style of wood paneling.

      Great pics. Thanks for putting a link to these.

      We see the florist shop which Kubrick doesn’t ever show in context in the film.
      http://www.archiviokubrick.it/opere/film/ews/fotoscena/setews11.jpg

      Kubrick has Bill looking at the florist shop from a stance where he should be about in front of the Rainbow (or one of its alternates) so the florist’s should be on the corner next to it, but instead the florist’s is further down and across the way in the location of the 2nd Pescado Restaurant next to the Thread Mills/Deli and Grocery.
      http://www.idyllopuspress.com/meanwhile/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ews_approx.jpg

      Interesting. They’ve misidentified Bill and Alice’s apartment, which is instead Domino’s building, but it is from another incarnation of the street so that a wig shop is next it instead of the Lotto shop. I doubt they would have ever originally intended the Harford’s to be living in Greenwich.
      http://www.archiviokubrick.it/opere/film/ews/fotoscena/setews22.jpg

  4. Juli –
    I have enjoyed all of your analysis – amazing work!
    I am curious if you have any opinions about the camera work during the pool room scene. I’ve always been so transfixed by Sidney Pollack’s acting in that scene that I only recently noticed how… shaky some of the shots are! Struck me, once I noticed it, as really standing out, particularly given, based on interviews with Pollack, how long it took to shoot that sequence. Any thoughts?

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      1. Looking at it again, it seems like the only relatively shaky section is the two shot around the pool table, which follows Pollack from our left to right as he says, “Listen Bill, I need to talk to you about something”. If you watch the table as opposed to the actors (for framing) , it is quite awkward, and any other shot from that vantage just seems less than perfect to me. It probably doesn’t mean anything, but I know that Kubrick is well known for being obsessed by the composition of the frame. It seems a tiny bit interesting that it happens right as Victor breaks the absurd social niceties they’ve been volleying back and forth, (nice party the other night, nice scotch) and gets down to the real reason for the meeting.

        The scene is a masterful performance by Pollack, and I feel sad that he didn’t do more acting in his career. The scene is also fascinating to me because I believe Raphael talks about writing it in Eyes Wide Open, creating a structure for the film by placing Victor at the orgy and having Victor “owe Bill one” for the hooker in the bathroom. This would allow the viewer to feel frightened at the orgy (for Bill) but then I guess relieved when Victor reveals he was there. (I haven’t read that book in years, but I’m pretty sure that is how it went down…) That has a real movie logic to it, but it’s so interesting that Kubrick didn’t use the construction for that purpose in the end – Victor doesn’t seem remotely indebted to Bill, which is an amazingly cynical detail if you think about it. So great.

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      Though it’s standard Kubrick technique, there is a sense of a dramatic and almost unwieldy pace-changer with the camera jogging back slightly and following Pollack from screen left to screen right, while at the same time the camera moves physically to the left and behind Cruise so we no longer see his face when Pollack says, “I need to talk to you about something.” That’s followed by several static med shots of Bill and Pollack. Then back to the camera tracking Pollack this time from screen right to left as he says “It concerns you” and again the camera passes behind Cruise so we only see his back and he’s out of focus. Which connects the “I need to talk to you about something” and “It concerns you”. It’s a very active camera, following Pollack, keeping him center frame at all times, and depth of field is deep with everything in focus, wider angle as well than the shots of Cruise which are static, he doesn’t move, and the depth of field is shallow with the focus on him and everything beyond out of focus. We have this again when Cruise moves over to the couch. Pollack has the active camera while Cruise has the passive. Not until Cruise brings up the woman at the party who “shows up dead” do we have a bit of balancing with the camera now actively following him as it did Pollack. Switches back to static etc. and then as Pollack tells Cruise–”When they took her home she was, she was just fine. And the rest of it is right there in the paper. She was a junky. She OD’d. There was nothing suspicious. Her door was locked from the inside. The police are happy. End of the story.”–we are once again behind Cruise as we watch Pollack, not seeing Cruise’s face.

      The key times we have the camera behind Bill are interesting, not showing his face, as with the end of the film where we end with the camera on Alice and Bill’s back in the frame.

      No, Victor isn’t at all indebted to Bill. He even twists what Bill had said in the bathroom around, rephrasing it so that he relates Bill having said it was “only a matter of time” with Amanda when Bill had instead told her she was lucky (connecting with the “Lucky to be alive” paper scene when Bill learns of the other overdose) and was going to need rehab. And Victor refers to the paper which Bill holds…

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