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Eyes Wide Open

By Frederic Raphael

It was one of the strangest collaborations in film and literary history.

Stanley Kubrick was the reclusive genius of film, an American who had chosen Britain as a base from which to create his masterpieces. Frederic Raphael was an Oscar winning screenwriter, novelist and the creator of cult TV series The Glittering Prizes.

Raphael was no stranger to the egos of movie directors, and was often reluctant to accept screen-writing commissions, but Kubrick was a man no writer could refuse. The director of the film Stephen Spielberg described as “the big bang of our generation”, 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Spartacus, Dr Strangelove and The Shining, everyone in the industry wanted to work with him.

Eyes Wide Open charts the relationship which developed between these two very different men. Kubrick had fixated on an obscure novella by Arthur Schnitzler set in Vienna in 1926, and tasked Raphael with transferring the story to contemporary New York. Midnight phone calls would summon Raphael to the director’s estate in Hertfordshire, as the screenplay was slowly developed until it met the standards of the notoriously perfectionist Kubrick.

As an insight into the working methods of one of the great artists of the twentieth century, and for anyone with an interest in cinema, this is a riveting read.

The film was finally shot as Eyes Wide Shut and was to be Kubrick’s last.

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