Who Were Those Masked Men?

Why the story makes no sense.
Aug. 11 1999 3:30 AM

Who Were Those Masked Men?

And other mysteries of Eyes Wide Shut and the rest of this summer's movies.

(Continued from Page 1)

"No," cries his helpful escort, dramatically reappearing on the balcony above them. "Take me! I am ready to redeem him!"


She is hauled away, presumably to be killed. Why is she sacrificing her life? All they've asked him to do is remove his clothes at an orgy, which seems not unreasonable.


H arford is allowed to leave, though he is given a stern warning: "If you make any further inquiries, there will be the most dire consequences for you and your family."

Harford makes further inquiries. He travels around the city, obtaining information by flashing his medical license to waitresses and hotel clerks. "I'm a doctor," he announces, as if people are required to speak to him under penalty of law. The "dire consequences" spoken of earlier amount to the following: a brusquely worded note, a rude stare from a stranger, and the apparent confiscation of Harford's carnival mask, which results in a $25 replacement fee.

Who is behind all this mischief? "If I told you their names," says Sydney Pollack, playing a mysterious magnate who befriends Harford, "I don't think you'd sleep so well."

OK, so they're really scary guys. They may even have actually killed the woman at the party, who Harford, flashing his doctor badge again, has discovered lying dead from an overdose in a mortuary drawer. But why would they go to such extreme lengths to cover up their romps in the first place? They don't appear to be doing anything particularly illegal, and with their liturgical solemnity they seem far less a threat to the Republic than, say, a Karen Finley performance piece or happy hour at Hooters. Wouldn't it make more sense just to offer Harford a membership to the haunted mansion club?

"You've been out of your depth the last 24 hours," Pollack's character says. Harford, resigned and weary, returns home, only to discover the missing mask on the bed next to his sleeping wife. Who put it there? That's the question that Kubrick no doubt intended us to ask each other late into the night, just as we once endlessly pondered the meaning of the black monolith in 2001. But 2001 was a mystery, and Eyes Wide Shut, for all its atmospheric high-mindedness, is just a muddle.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.