Open Your Eyes

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar executes this follow-up to his debut Tesis with the same kind of stylized flair and narrative twists. Open Your Eyes is a gothic tale of a young man’s obsession(s). It incorporates elements of familiar myths and fairy tales—“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”—within the familiar framework of a psychological thriller to effect a taut and complicated portrayal of a man’s descent into a nightmare realm.

Cesar is living a storybook life of luxury and indulgence when he meets Nuria, a young woman who becomes infatuated with him. But Cesar is enraptured with Sofia, and so, despite a quick tryst, he tries to get rid of Nuria. Furious, Nuria attempts a deadly revenge, and although Cesar survives, his appearance changes drastically, along with his perceptions about life and the world. When he tries to seek remedies for his dilemma, Cesar finds himself caught between the past and the future, between consciousness and dream. Amenábar again displays remarkable talent in transforming a basically generic plot into an exploration of varied states of being. His cinematography acquires a darkly luscious, almost sensual feel to depict Cesar’s cosmos. With fine performances from his cast and an engrossing, well-constructed story line, Amenábar entices us to explore the social nature of reality and relationships, how fragile existence really is, and even the nature of death and God.

Alejandro Amenábar, Director
Born in 1972, Alejandro Amenábar is Spanish and Chilean. He is the writer/director/producer of a short film, La cabeza (1991), and a short video, Himenóptero (1992), and acted as editor and composer for two short videos: Antes del beso (1993) and Soñé que mataba (1994). For the short video Luna (1995) and the feature film Tesis (Thesis) (1995), he was writer, director, producer, and composer. Tesis opened the Panorama section at the Berlin Film Festival in 1995 and won seven Spanish Goyas.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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