(MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!)
(None of these comments are meant as a personal attack on the editor. These simply are my opinions on the edit and are meant as feedback and constructive criticism.)
Big Kubrick fan here and I have a roller-coaster relationship with Eyes Wide Shut. Excited and confused when I saw it in the theaters, bored by it on first handful of repeat viewings, saw the themes better and grew to like it, still get annoyed by it. And I’m a Gatos fan, love his work, so I was excited to hear of this edit. I watched his workprint way back when and to be honest I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I didn’t know why and I gave lousy feedback. I guess I’m trying to make up for it, albeit a year too late.
I watched the final version of this when Gatos released it and I wanted to let it breathe for a bit before I rewatched the original. Then I watched Fidelio one more time. I’m going to break down some of the differences in the themes, characters, plot, etc. to illustrate how effective (or not) Gatos’ changes are.
Theatrical – Rich doctor. Naïve, boyish, horny, unable to go through with cheating on his wife but keeps trying. In the end comes clean. Character is underwritten and over acted.
Fidelio – More casual, just a horny guy married to Nicole Kidman. Less dumb.
Theatrical – Rich housewife. Faithful, jealous, both proud and ashamed of her fantasies.
Fidelio – She kind of just sits around the whole movie. It’s a shame but I understood why. I agree with what an earlier reviewer said, “(Alice) is nothing more than Bill's trophy, just like Milich's daughter… They are all symbolic prostitutes (is Bill and Alice's daughter on the same path?).”
Theatrical – A lot has been said about this and it’s written much better than what I can do here.
Fidelio – Gatos excises the focus on marriage to amp up the mystery of the plot. This hooks the viewer earlier and gets you in and out in just over 90 minutes.
Theatrical – Men are dirty, cheating, lousy horndogs, except for Nightingale (although I’m sure Mrs. Nick doesn’t know about his Somerton gigs). Women are either whores or innocent little girls. This movie is filled with the scent of sex.
Nudity is all around Bill. It’s as if Kubrick wanted to put in as much nudity as he could get away with. He wanted the audience to be titillated right off the bat and desensitized to it by the end. But never does it get too pornographic or revolting (unlike Clockwork Orange).
Fidelio – Gatos turns the knob from 11 down to around a 5. The only excised sex elements that I really missed were Bill’s visits to Domino. The story works absolutely fine without them but I liked that subplot.
It's interesting to note that the reduction of all-but-one of Kidman's nude scenes helps to make the orgy feel more taboo or shocking. We haven't been desensitized yet and Mandy's dead body has more of an impact, being the first and last nude woman, both scenes succeeding an overdose.
-- The Inciting Incident
Theatrical - Clean cut Dr. Harford learns his wife’s shocking secret – one time she had a sexual fantasy about another man. This is the weakest element to the movie in my opinion. This fucking guy goes on a wild sexual journey all because he can’t admit he likes to fantasize about other women.
Fidelio – Bill’s out on the town and meets up with his old buddy who just happens to be on his way to an orgy. Instead of trying to get revenge on his wife, Bill’s just being a cheating husband. Definite improvement.
Theatrical – Meandering. A lot of (forced) tension with an (intentionally) anti-climatic ending.
Fidelio – Oh my god this is so much better. Less lingering. Less whole lotta nothin. This is more of a slow-burn-no-resolution-thriller than a slow-as-molasses-blue-balls-drama.
Theatrical – Ashamed with himself, Bill confesses to his wife. Their marriage isn’t over, but now instead of “making love” they “fuck.”
Fidelio – Cuts all that dumb shit out. Ends perfectly. Infidelity will always come back to haunt you.
Great editing, strong story telling. This is a must-see if you have a hard-on for Kubrick. Highly recommended for anybody that found Eyes Wide Shut dumb.
And great bonus videos. “I do want to have anonymous sex.” “You… want to have… anonymous sex?”
A/V Quality - 10
Editing - 10
Narrative - 9 (original 7)
Enjoyment - 8 (original 8)
Recommended drink: Purple Hand beer
Eyes Wide Shut is one of my all time favorite movies. It's a devastating and surreal journey into the human psyche and the horrific true face of the powerful elite (and the Illuminati?) and their dehumanization of society and the human soul. If the original was one of the greatest achievements in filmmaking, then Gatos' Fidelio Edition is one of the greatest achievements in fanediting. It's quite remarkable how different a film this is with over an hour removed, yet the plot and themes are well thought out and there is not a cut that doesn't work. Definitely one of my new favorite fanedits!
Audio/Visual Quality: 10
The DVD looked pretty great, with the beautiful grain intact and no problems to report. I watched it in 5.1 surround sound and it was pretty immersive. This was just a really excellent presentation!
Visual Editing: 10
If I had watched this cut without ever seeing the original then I wouldn't even notice the missing hour. The only transition that caught my attention was the cut from Bill and Ziegler in the bathroom to Bill entering the hospital the next day. It was a bit jarring and possibly could have worked better with a fade out. Besides that the editing was pretty much perfect.
Audio Editing: 10
I did not hear a single noise out of place, so good job!
It's amazing how Gatos has radically altered the narrative and character motivations yet Kubrick's vision is still mostly intact. The most noticeable change was Alice's decreased role, which actually worked very well. She is nothing more than Bill's trophy, just like Milich's daughter and the masked women at the orgy. They are all symbolic prostitutes (is Bill and Alice's daughter on the same path?). The removal of all the sex stuff is well handled and our main focus is now on the mysterious cult made up of the world's most powerful people. The pacing is brisk yet Gatos is still able to build the tension all the way until the shocking ending. The original ends with a deceptively happy ending that shows the dark side of Christmas consumerism and that the protagonists still have their eyes wide shut to all the evil going on around them, while the Fidelio edition ends with Bill finally realizing the true power of the corrupt elite. This was the only way this edit could have ended and it will haunt me for days. My only problem with the narrative is that the final scenes lacked weight, due to the shortened runtime and faster pace. I don't think Gatos could have done anything about this, but it just lacks the power of the original.
This won't be a replacement disc, but it is a thrilling reinterpretation of Kubrick's final work that really shows all the hard work that was put into it. For fans of Eyes Wide Shut, this is a must see! Thank you very much for sharing Gatos!
Even though Gatos classifies this as a "FanFix," to me it is a perfect example of a "FanMix," as Gatos has given us a completely new story, subtext, and interpretation of this movie through the use of expert editing, and obvious care and respect for the source material. To remove over an hour of footage and end up with such a cohesive and powerful piece of work is no small feat. Yet Gatos has done just that!
*WARNING* - THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVE NOT YET WATCHED THIS EDIT, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THIS JUST YET.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! :-)
VIDEO/AUDIO QUALITY - 10
Gatos has used an SD source which he says has noise and grain throughout. While I did notice some graininess and a bit of noise, it is by no means detrimental to the viewing experience, and in fact it is my opinion enhances the story Gatos decided to tell, which is one of mystery and foreboding. I find the grain a perfect match for the mood of the film.
In any event, the A/V quality is exactly on par with the source.
VISUAL EDITING - 10
Gatos does a truly masterful job with the visual editing. Even though he removed 65 minutes of material, I truthfully could barely notice any of the edits. Perhaps there are one or two moments where a scene change feels only a bit abrupt, but to me, this was not a problem because it usually fit the style Gatos was going for. And in general, he perfectly matched Kubrick's style of frequent long cross fades, so that it was hard to tell which edit points were Kubrick's and which were Gatos'.
This is in my opinion a stellar visual editing job.
AUDIO EDITING - 9
Gatos' audio editing was also top-notch. Audio editing is generally more difficult than visual editing, especially when so much content is removed. I hesitate to take a point off here, but there were a few places that felt like the audio edits were a bit too noticeable, and unlike the few abrupt visual edits, they didn't feel "right" to me. The editing was excellent overall, and just fell behind the visual editing by hair.
NARRATIVE - 9
This is the triumph of Gatos' work -- he has truly given us a completely brand new movie that in almost every way perfectly fits together, so that one would be hard pressed to argue this wasn't a "real" release.
Gatos transforms the story to focus solely on Bill; he in fact keeps the audience so closely involved with Bill's every move that we begin to really feel empathy with this main character who does, as one character says to him, get in "way over his head." Tom Cruise's performance seems perfect for this approach. He starts of as an arrogant doctor, using his credentials freely to do and get whatever he wants. He feels entitled and superior to others. He blatantly blows off his wife multiple times, and acts like the staff at his office are his servants. But then he gets himself into trouble due to his huge ego and hubris, which lead him down a very unexpected and unintended path of danger.
This is really a brilliant approach that Gatos has taken, and it seems like Gatos found all the perfect moments to make Cruise's performance work for his own goals. In some ways, I felt like Gatos was borrowing from Hitchcock, who frequently used similar techniques when building a mystery where both the main character and the audience share a common sense of confusion and fear of what is going to happen next.
Now, why can't I give this a 10? Well, there's just a few minor quibbles I wish Gatos could have addressed (though I am not sure if the source material or the requirements of a cohesive storyline would have let him).
First, I am not sure seeing Bill immediately go off with two women at the party (with the obvious implication he is going to have sex with them) was a good introduction to his character. I know that he is with the women when he is called up to deal with Mandy (so part of the scene is required for continuity), but the amount of flirting could have been reduced a bit. I say this because it immediately places in the audience's mind that Bill is a womanizer and also does not care about fidelity to his wife. I think it would have been fine to have Bill pick up the women, but it just felt like he had absolutely no problem with cheating on his wife, which is not really (IMO) what the rest of the character building Gatos does seems to support. Again, this is just a minor issue, and perhaps once I watch it again I won't feel this way.
Second, I would have liked to not have the extremely bizarre moment when Bill is returning the tux and the shop owner is pimping out his daughter. This just felt out of place to me. However, I acknowledge that it would have required a perhaps too hard a visual cut to get out of this scene, and thus again, I realize why Gatos might have kept this in.
Finally, the ending scene just kind of blew my mind. Now, it was a much better ending then the original, and I'm really not sure what other options Gatos might have been contemplating. But to me, the new ending can easily be interpreted that his wife was actually at the party. Maybe that's what Gatos was going for. While that's a cool concept, I feel that it ends up being more "shock" value than anything that we could have foreseen in the narrative. I am wondering if there was any way to somehow make Bill think of his wife during the masked party scene and superimpose her face somehow on one of the girls that tries to take him away (not Mandy, of course, but someone else). Again, I'd have to think about this more when I rematch it.
All in all, I have to emphasize that my minor quibbles are just that -- minor! Gatos has laid out such a strong and compelling narrative that I literally could not keep my eyes away from the screen the entire time, and was enthralled from beginning to end. One final comment -- even though Gatos cut out over an hour, which left just about 90 minutes remaining, I really felt that the pacing did not feel at all rushed, and in fact, quite deliberate, with a slow build of tension throughout.
ENJOYMENT - 9 -- though I would give this a 9.5 if that were available!
(NOTE - I would rate my enjoyment of the original movie probably around a 6.)
There's really not much more I can say about this edit other than how superlative it is in so many ways. Gatos had a vision and he accomplished it; the fact that I want to watch this again is a testament to how much I enjoyed it!
I actually somewhat disagree with Gatos' brief synopsis, calling Bill a "victim of curiosity, coincidence, and circumstance." Certainly those factors come into play, but I also feel Gatos clearly provides ample evidence that Bill does himself no favors due to his aforementioned character flaws. This to me adds a lot of depth to the movie; how much of what happens is Bills fault? Could he have prevented what happened, and at what point does he pass the point of no return?
But maybe this is another example of why Gatos has done such a terrific job with the narrative, as he has allowed more than one interpretation of the story, just as many people can disagree with a director's own interpretation of his or her own movie!
My only criticism from an enjoyment perspective were the small issues with the narrative I describe above, that distracted me a small bit. And to re-address the ending, though it happens so abruptly and suddenly (without any narrative support) it feels almost cathartic in a way, given how quickly it happens and how quickly it ends the movie. So really, I can't really say it wasn't enjoyable, even if it was not completely satisfying. And again, for me, the ending of the original movie was much less satisfying.
OVERALL RATING - 9.2 (calculated) -- and a 9.5 if I could modify it myself!
In conclusion, I really think this is what Fan Editing is all about! Gatos has done a stupendous job in making a completely new story just by using his editing skills, which by the way, are stellar. I can't wait to see more of his works!
I can recommend this edit without reservation, as long as viewers understand up front that this is not in any way the same story as Eyes Wide Shut. It is a new story, which works terrifically well on it' own merits.
Truly an amazing job, Gatos! Congratulations!
Thank you so much for the honest and in-depth review. I'm glad you enjoyed the edit. I'm also glad you pointed out what you didn't like about it!
In regards to your comments about the ending:
"Finally, the ending scene just kind of blew my mind. Now, it was a much better ending then the original, and I'm really not sure what other options Gatos might have been contemplating. But to me, the new ending can easily be interpreted that his wife was actually at the party. Maybe that's what Gatos was going for. While that's a cool concept, I feel that it ends up being more "shock" value than anything that we could have foreseen in the narrative."
This is a great interpretation, not one I had considered with regards to how I edited the ending but still an interesting interpretation. My feeling was that in the original they made it ambiguous as to whether or not Bill left the mask at the mansion, or if he left it as his apartment before going to investigate what happened to Nick.
My intention with the ending was to take out the ambiguity and strongly suggest that the mask on the bed was a final warning/threat to Bill.
Thanks again for the review and I'm glad you enjoyed the edit.
Thanks for watching and I appreciate the review. I understand your sentiment that you felt it was too short but just to clarify, the point of my edit was not simply to cut the runtime of the film just for the sake of it. I cut specific things for specific reasons.
I see under "Format watched" you put MOV/AVI etc. But just for anyone else reading, there's only a DVD5 version of this edit available!
Thanks again for watching and thank you for the review!