Open Your Eyes (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Two thumbs up, without reservations. Scoopy's comments in white

Open Your Eyes, which is the English marketing name for the Spanish film Abre Los Ojos, can best be best described as a homage to Rod Serling.

Serling is one of the few men in the history of science fiction to understand that the most frightening things we can face are inside our heads, and they are centered around two concepts: isolation and confusion. Of the two, isolation is the more important - the driving concept. Think of how Serling's mind worked, and you'll immediately understand what I mean. He explored isolation in all its aspects. 

  • You are the only person in a world full of empty buildings, and you don't know why.
  • Or else, the world is full of people, but they don't seem to notice you at all, as if you didn't exist.
  • Or, you seem to be the only person who speaks your language, or of your species.
  • Or, you return home one day to find everything is the same, except they don't know who you are.

And in every case, you don't understand what is going on. Isolation drives the fear, confusion magnifies the fear.

Serling also liked to use his science fiction settings to explore serious ideas - the nature of beauty, for example. Do you remember the doctors and nurses talking about how ugly the patient is, until the camera pulls back to show a handsome patient, and doctors and nurses that look like pigs? 

Open Your Eyes explores serious ideas as well. It is not so much about the nature of beauty as its effects. The hero is a very handsome man whose face is disfigured in an auto accident, and the effect that disfigurement has on the way he perceives himself and the way others perceive him. 


Penelope Cruz and Najwa Nimri expose their breasts in sex scenes (in good light). The top of Cruz's buns can be seen briefly.
Finally, the film's author is also somewhat moralistic, and this also parallels Serling. Perhaps our hero deserved the accident, because he used his beauty cavalierly, to seduce women and discard them, and it was one of the discarded women who caused his disfigurement. 

It is a story that Serling could easily have written, and he would have been proud of it. 

If I say too much more, I'll spoil it for you, and this isn't the kind of film you should spoil. Good entertainment. One of the better films of the past five years, and the best episode of The Twilight Zone since the original series went off the air. Plus it's a great looking film and Penelope Cruz removes her clothing. That's pretty close to heaven, right there.

Although nobody in the USA ever really got to see this film (gross $400,000), the esteemed director Cameron Crowe loved it enough that he's made an English language version called "Vanilla Sky", in which Cruz reprises her role, and Tom Cruise is new co-star. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no major features

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Abre los ojos (1997), English title Open Your Eyes is a first rate Sci Fi thriller from Spain. Giving a plot summary without spoilers would be as hard as doing the same for Fight Club, so if you are dying to know the plot, check out Berardinelli's detailed summary. Penelope Cruz shows her breasts, and Najwa Nimri has very brief breast exposure for sure, and clear but possibly double exposure (image 4).

The film examines the nature of reality, the importance of physical appearance, and what constitutes happiness. In director Alejandro Amenábar's second effort, he has created a unique and brilliant piece of cinema and is young enough to have dozens more films in his future. Because this film transcends many genres effortlessly, I give it a full B, and would award more except for the subtitle drawback.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Berardinelli 3.5/4, Apollo 74/100.

  • Surprisingly, it didn't win any Goyas, but was nominated for ten.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 86% positive overall, a perfect 100% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 8.0, Apollo users 94/100. 
  • With their dollars ... it grossed only $400,000 in the USA, never reaching more than 10 screens. Too bad. I think good marketing could have sold it to a mass audience.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B (both reviewers).

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