Craig's Letters to WB concerning the censored North American version of Eyes Wide Shut.
Warner Home Video 40000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522 Dear Sir or Madam, Skipping introductions, I need not explain the utter horror and emptiness I was left with after viewing the terribly mangled version of Eyes Wide Shut. For the thousands of American and Canadian Kubrick fans who waited twelve years to see what eventually became his ultimate and posthumously released film, the cinema version that was shown in North America was a complete outrage to both Kubrick's art and his legacy. I've heard many rumors contrasting one another, some saying that Kubrick approved the changes, some saying that they were done after stepping over his dead body. Either way, I think that the digitally inserted images were an abomination to the only true thing in cinema - a Kubrick film. After all the glory Kubrick brought to Warners, after all the majesty that he represented, was there no one at your company to step in and preserve Kubrick's masterwork? While I lack the actual information as to who approved the censoring, I place the blame on Warners either way: Kubrick by no means said "You know, this scene is a bit lurid. . . it won't play very well in the states. . .let's mangle it a bit, shall we?" Kubrick learned long ago not to sell out in such a manner, when Kirk Douglas beat him over the head with his own "commercial" script, telling him that if that version of Paths of Glory was to be filmed, he wanted no part of it. And since then, Kubrick never attempted to sacrifice art in order to play to a larger audience. Thus I have a hard time believing that he, in right mind and true heart, would have approved of these changes. If he had actually feared the NC-17 rating, I don't believe he would have shot that scene in the manner he did. He incorrectly assumed that the MPAA would know art when it saw it and would be able to distinguish between that and pornography. The most interesting result of this overly bad decision was that, because it was covered up, the scene was looked at as a dirty thing, as something that needed to be blocked from our eyes. However, the point behind the scene was that the sexual activity taking place wasn't titillating at all, and instead was devoid of any emotion. However, I wouldn't expect a film executive to understand this, as he or she often has no knowledge of film and is nothing more than a businessperson in the guise of an art monger. These days, though, I expect more art to backwash out of my commode than to come to my local theater. The film studios have brought the world's most complete art form to the level of a velvet Elvis painting, and the tradition continues with Eyes Wide Shut, leaving in the "acceptable" parts and mangling the rest. I know the true blame goes to the MPAA, but my feeling is that Warner Brothers could have made the artistic choice to save this picture from the Puritanism of the MPAA, something Kubrick would have wanted. The true purpose of this letter, though, is not to take the previously stated cheap shots at movie executives and instead to make a request on behalf of true Kubrick fans, who did not betray his greatest accomplishment like so many others did. If you find it hard to believe that there are so many people who are angry about this, all I can say is go on the internet, see what the people think. We request that the video and DVD release of this film will be the original version, uncensored, with original soundtrack (including the shloka from the same scene): the "director's cut" that many other filmmakers get and would normally be redundant with a Kubrick film, but, in this case, is not. The reasoning is simple: no person who would buy this videocassette or disc would want the disfigured version. The majority of these people will be Kubrick fans, who want the director's vision preserved, and the other part simply won't care. Let me just say that the fervor surrounding this picture would have been the same had it been rated NC-17, and the people who went for pornography's sake would have left it just as disappointed as they did the R rated version. The request is simple: honor Kubrick's legacy, honor Kubrick's fans, and for God's sake, make the VHS letterbox. Thank you for your time. Craig Johnson Student & Creator of OPEN YOUR EYES - The Kubrick Website at http:/i.am/dr.strangelove
Warren Lieberfarb Warner Brothers 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522 Dear Sir, I was recently disappointed with the news that your impending US release of Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut will be the same adulterated version that was presented to the American public in July of last year, despite Kubrick's fans' attempts to sway your company to the contrary. You have chosen to ignore a heartfelt letter-writing campaign, and by this you have chosen to let down the same people whom you let down with your mediocre, duplicitous "Kubrick Collection," which I was, like so many other fans, duped into buying by claims of a Kubrick-conducted remastering of original prints. The Collection was, in essence, old videos in new boxes, or video-quality footage transferred to DVD, something that would never have happened had Kubrick truly overseen the project. Again, I want to stress the existence of a collective disappointment among Kubrick's fans at Warner's abysmal promotion, handling, and distribution of Stanley's final film. A movement to boycott the US release of both the DVD and video has begun. We will use other means to procure home copies of Eyes Wide Shut; if Warner's insists on cheating consumers, I see no reason that consumers can't return the favor. Regards, Craig Michael Johnson