Today I was re-reading one of my favorite pieces of film criticism, Tim Kreider’s evaluation of Eyes Wide Shut Introducing Sociology. This essay blew my mind when I first read it a couple years back, casting a movie that I’d already enjoyed in an entirely new light. When I first saw Eyes Wide Shut back in 1999, it had affected me as a depiction of the sometimes-opposing forces of desire and fidelity and how they can shape a marriage. But Kreider’s read cast it as a cynical look at late-stage capitalism, where everything is commodified. It’s pretty astute, and convincingly argued, but in the back of my mind I guess I wondered where my own interpretation fit.
Today I came across an afterward by Kreider that I’d never read before where he says (in part):
…watching the film in middle age, I find myself (and imagine Kubrick being) less interested in condemning the Harfords than in simply observing them, and find myself admiring not the same old story he’d always told but the new one he was trying to tell for the first time in his career. He was attempting, late in life, something he’d never done before, something he didn’t know whether he’d be any good at: to make a film about intimate, domestic life, about a blindly complacent but basically happy marriage, testing its fault lines of temptation, jealousy and resentment and leaving it stronger and more truthful.
I found myself emotionally affected by this passage for a couple of reasons. One, it reminded me that personal interpretations are valid and important things and that great art allows for multiple meanings. Second, there is something beautiful about the idea of an accomplished artist like Kubrick – who had plenty of laurels to rest on – attempting something different, taking pet themes and weaving them in with something new.
So I put this out into the world: I want to be an artist, and not a hack. I want what I do to come from a personal place, to always be pushing forward, and if not inventing than at least refining.
p.s. – Another brilliant, mindbending piece of film criticism-as-conspiracy-theory that I read this week (for those interested in this sort of thing): Film Crit Hulk’s The Fallrise of David O. Russell.