“Moloch, whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!” — Allen Ginsberg, Howl
If you are stuck at home, if a disease has begun to eat away the face of your nation, if illness has tinged even the once reliably boring moments of your life with terror, you might start to go a little batty, and, if that happens, you might start to watch the same few movies again and again, the passing hours registered only by the shade of light in the window, at which point you will begin to notice hidden patterns, secret meanings. You will finally hear what such films have been trying to tell you all along.
This is what happened to me in the last few weeks with the movies of Stanley Kubrick, which, on repeat viewing, have turned out to be lousy with portents. Even the most overlooked of the director’s films, Eyes Wide Shut, which he was fiddling with when he died, sounds a clarion call through time, revealing the actual nature of a society now being swept aside by the virus.
Kubrick’s message is simple: you know nothing.
It’s a truth demonstrated via allegory, the story of a powerful man beset by demons. Of course, to many, the movie was always more than a parable. It was an exposé written in code. It revealed a dynamic that had long played out in sectors of elite society but was not glimpsed until our own age, an age of scandal, the most telling being the scandal of Jeffrey Epstein.
In short, Eyes Wide Shut is not fiction. It’s documentary. It’s a great artist, at the end of a brilliant career, uncovering hidden evil.
What is the function of art?
Is it to show us something diverting, beautiful, new?
Or is it to tell us what we’ve always known but never admitted to ourselves?