Abre los ojos


Abre los ojos
OPEN YOUR EYES (1997)
   In his follow-up to the award-winning Tesis (1995), Alejandro Amenábar, an admirer of Steven Spielberg, tackled science fiction, a very unusual genre in a national cinema tradition dominated by realism. Abre los ojos was a parable on the importance of appearances, and how physical beauty can devour a life. The aptly named César (Eduardo Noriega) has everything—except scruples. After he makes a move on his best friend's girl Sofía (Penélope Cruz), his former lover (Najwa Nimri) attempts to kill him in a car crash. He survives, but his face is completely disfigured, and from that point, his existence becomes a nightmare in which those who used to pursue him now feel apprehensive even to share a room with him. At one point, doctors claim to have come up with a miraculous cure, but after a brief respite in which he seems to be regaining his former life, strange visions threaten his mental stability and selfcontrol. When he is taken to jail after murdering Sofía, he realizes that more could be at stake than just his bad conscience playing tricks on his perceptions.
   Amenábar captured the interest of young audiences with several clever plot twists, a surprise ending (audiences are left to decide what happens after a fadeout in which a voice is heard asking César to wake up), and daring use of imagery and locations (three strategies that would be deployed again in Los otros / The Others). This film became one of the box-office hits of the year. The film had a Hollywood flavor, and audiences who would normally avoid Spanish films flocked to see it.
   A co-production with France (Les Films Alain Sarde) and Italy (Lucky Red), the film cost just over two million Euro, and made over six million in Spain alone. Unusually for a Spanish mainstream film, it was distributed worldwide, including in the U.S. There, it was snapped up by Tom Cruise's company shortly after its release, for an American remake, Vanilla Sky (2001), which was scripted and directed by Cameron Crowe. Penélope Cruz reprised her role, Cruise played the protagonist, and other parts went to Kurt Russell, Cameron Diaz, Timothy Spall, and Tilda Swinton.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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