Jacques Vallee compares Eyes Wide Shut, directed by Stanley Kubrick, with The Ninth Gate, directed by Roman Polanski.
I was struck by the suspicious similarities and the enormous differences between them. In earlier viewings both had thrilled me with the superb photography, the great acting, and the expansive landscapes. A second experience made me wonder about the themes themselves: the contrast was striking. The story line of Eyes wide shut turns out to be not only unbelievable but downright silly. It could be summed up as “Handsome young millionaire doctor tries to get laid in New York for three days and fails!”
The Polanski movie, in contrast, is dangerous and captivating from the very first frame. It combines a profound understanding of hermeticism with the breathless beauty of a quest for infinity. It completes it with the exquisite aesthetics of an adept who knows what should be exposed and what should remain hidden. Polanski has recognized the power and genuineness of his cause, his story, his landscapes, while Kubrick only exemplifies the well-trained academic intellectual who scrutinizes the magical from the outside and just doesn’t get it, flashing the conventional symbols before us like so many obligatory props. Occultism is not science-fiction.
I have the exact opposite reaction of Vallee. I thought The Ninth Gate was laughable; Eyes Wide Shut profound. I think Kubrick was trying to say something about marriage and love, not anything about the occult.
Still, interesting perspectives.