Open Your Eyes (1997 film)

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Open Your Eyes
Abre los ojos movie.jpg
Spanish release poster
Directed byAlejandro Amenábar
Written byAlejandro Amenábar
Mateo Gil
Produced byFernando Bovaira
José Luis Cuerda
CinematographyHans Burmann
Edited byMaría Elena Sáinz de Rozas
Music byAlejandro Amenábar
Mariano Marín
  • Las Producciones del Escorpión
  • Sogetel
  • Les Films Alain Sarde
  • Lucky Red
Distributed bySogepaq (Spain)
AFMD (France)
Release date
  • 19 December 1997 (1997-12-19) (Spain)
Running time
117 minutes[1][2][3]
Budget370 million
Box office$9 million

Open Your Eyes (Spanish: Abre los ojos) is a 1997 Spanish film co-written, co-scored and directed by Alejandro Amenábar and co-written by Mateo Gil. It stars Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz, Chete Lera, Fele Martínez and Najwa Nimri. In 2002, Open Your Eyes was ranked no. 84 in the Top 100 Sci-Fi List by the Online Film Critics Society.[5]

The movie's intersecting planes of dream and reality have prompted some critics to suggest comparisons to Calderón de la Barca's 1635 play Life Is a Dream.[6][7][8] An American remake entitled Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe, was released in 2001, with Penélope Cruz reprising her role.


A handsome young man wakes up to a female voice telling him to open his eyes. He drives to an empty city. He wakes again, this time to a woman in his bed. He tells her not to leave him messages on his alarm clock.

From a prison cell in Madrid, the 25-year-old man, César (Eduardo Noriega), tells his story to psychiatrist Antonio (Chete Lera) while wearing a prosthetic mask. Flashbacks reveal the following events: Good-looking César is attractive to women. At his birthday party, he flirts with Sofía (Penélope Cruz), his best friend Pelayo's (Fele Martinez) date. Later, he takes her home and stays the night, but they do not sleep together. The next morning, César's obsessive ex-lover Nuria (Najwa Nimri) pulls up outside Sofía's flat, offering him a ride and sex. On the way to her house, however, she crashes the car with the intent to kill them both. César survives the crash but is horribly disfigured, beyond the help of cosmetic surgery, so he decides to wear a mask to conceal his face. Sofía cannot bear to see him and tries to keep her distance.

After César's disfigurement, he begins to have a series of disorienting experiences. Drunk, César falls asleep in the street. On awakening, everything has changed: Sofía now claims to love him and the surgeons restore his lost looks. But as he makes love to Sofía one night, she suddenly changes into Nuria. Horrified, César smothers her to death with a pillow. Yet everyone else believes Nuria was indeed the woman everyone else calls Sofía, and he is imprisoned for her murder.

While he is confined to the prison, fragments of his past return to him as if in a dream. It is revealed that, shortly after falling asleep drunk on the street, César signed a contract with Life Extension, a company specializing in cryonics, to be cryogenically preserved and to experience extremely lucid and lifelike virtual reality dreams. Returning to their headquarters, under supervision by prison officers, he discovers they specialize in cryonics with a twist: "artificial perception" or the provision of a fantasy based on the past to clients who are reborn in the future. He committed suicide at home shortly after signing the contract and was placed in cryonic suspension. Duvernois, the L.E. representative who explains César's experiences to him while dreaming, reveals that the era is 150 years in the future and César's time from his awakening in the street onward has been a dream, spliced retroactively into his actual life and replacing his true memories. At the end of the film, César decides to wake and be resurrected by committing suicide. Convinced his life since the drunken night in the street has been a nightmarish vision created by Life Extension, he leaps from the roof of the company's high-rise headquarters, and the film ends, apparently ambiguously, on a black screen with a woman telling him to open his eyes.


  • Eduardo Noriega as César, a confident and wealthy young man who has money and is successful with women
  • Fele Martínez as Pelayo, César's best friend, whose personality is marked by his inferiority complex when it comes to meeting women
  • Penélope Cruz as Sofía, César's love interest
  • Najwa Nimri as Nuria, César's former lover, who still has feelings for him
  • Tristán Ulloa as Camarero
  • Chete Lera as Antonio, a psychologist who tries to help
  • Gérard Barray as Duvernois, a representative of the L.E. company


The film was theatrically released on 19 December 1997.[9]


Critical reception[edit]

Open Your Eyes received mostly positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 85% approval rating based on reviews from 47 critics, with a weighted average score of 7.39 out of 10. The site's critical consensus states: "Director Alejandro Amenábar tackles some heady issues with finesse and clarity in Open Your Eyes, a gripping exploration of existentialism and the human spirit".[10] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three and a half stars (out of four), writing that movies "of this intelligence, audacity, and complexity come along so rarely that it's mandatory to cry out their arrival" and that "those who see it will not quickly forget the experience".[11] Rob Blackwelder of SplicedWire gave the film four stars (out of four), calling it "a jaw-dropping psychological thriller" that's "beautifully orchestrated".[12]

Richard Scheib of The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review also gave Open Your Eyes four stars, writing that it is "quite a remarkable film".[13] Holly E. Ordway of DVD Active wrote "I don’t give out “perfect 10” ratings lightly, but Open Your Eyes earns one by all accounts".[14] However, Aaron Beierle of DVD Talk gave a more lukewarm review, writing that he "found most of Open Your Eyes interesting" but remarked that "there's something about the picture that kept me from being completely involved".[15]

In 2016, Alejandro Amenábar said in retrospective that Open Your Eyes was his worst film, telling that it had been written by teenagers, who did not know anything about life.[16]

Box office[edit]

In Spain, the film was the second highest-grossing Spanish film of the year behind Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley with a gross of $7.8 million.[17] In the United States and Canada it grossed $370,720.[18] Elsewhere it grossed $0.7 million.[19]


Vol. #1
  1. "Glamour" - Amphetamine Discharge (6:03)
  2. "Risingson" - Massive Attack (5:29)
  3. "El detonador EMX-3" - Chucho (5:17)
  4. "How do" - Sneaker Pimps (5:04)
  5. "Sick of you" - Onion (4:28)
  6. "T-sebo" - Side Effects (5:44)
  7. "Flying away" - Smoke City (3:50)
  8. "Arrecife" - Los Coronas (3:11)
  9. "Yo mismo" - If (3:37)
  10. "Tremble (goes the night)" - The Walkabouts (5:02)
  11. "El detonador remix" – Chucho / Side Effects (5:01)
Vol. #2 (Instrumental)
  1. "Abre los ojos" (2:28)
  2. "Sofía" (1:12)
  3. "Soñar es una mierda" (1:04)
  4. "La operación" (1:33)
  5. "¿Dónde está Sofía?" (0:54)
  6. "El parque" (3:08)
  7. "Hipnosis" (2:20)
  8. "Quítate la careta" (2:56)
  9. "Eres mi mejor amigo" (2:41)
  10. "La única explicación" (2:05)
  11. "Quiero verte" (6:38)
  12. "Esa sonrisa" (0:53)
  13. "Deja vu" (1:51)
  14. "Excarcelación" (4:28)
  15. "La vida" (1:46)
  16. "La azotea" (5:21)
  17. "Créditos finales" (3:31)

Source: Abre Los Ojos at Discogs (list of releases).

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
1999 13th Goya Awards Best Film Nominated [20]
Best Director Alejandro Amenábar Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Alejandro Amenábar y Mateo Gil Nominated
Best Actor Eduardo Noriega Nominated
Best Editing María Elena Sáinz de Rozas Nominated
Best Art Direction Wolfgang Burmann Nominated
Best Production Supervision Emiliano Otegui Nominated
Best Makeup and Hairstyles Colin Arthur, Paca Almenara, Sylvie Imbert Nominated
Best Sound Daniel Goldstein, Patrick Ghislain, Ricardo Steinberg Nominated
Best Special Effects Reyes Abades, Alberto Esteban, Aurelio Sánchez Nominated

American remake[edit]

Director Cameron Crowe's film Vanilla Sky (2001) is a remake of Open Your Eyes. It stars Tom Cruise in the lead role (renamed David Aames), Penélope Cruz reprising her role as Sofia, Cameron Diaz as the woman who disfigures David (renamed Julianna Gianni), Jason Lee as the friend (renamed Brian Shelby), and Kurt Russell as the psychiatrist (renamed Curtis McCabe).[21] Transporting the action from Madrid to New York City, Vanilla Sky follows its source material's plot very closely, but makes several changes to the ending.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Open Your Eyes at Rotten Tomatoes (movie info). Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  2. ^ Open Your Eyes at AllMovie. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  3. ^ Open Your Eyes at IMDb. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Abre los Ojos". British Film Institute. London. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ Top 100 Sci-Fi List, Online Film Critics Society
  6. ^ Perri, Dennis (1 September 2008). "Amenabar's Abre los ojos: the posthuman subject". Hispanofila. The Free Library.
  7. ^ Robertson, Sandra (2000). "Life is Virtual Dream: Amenábar Reading Calderón (pp. 115-25)". In Cabello-Castellet, George; Martí-Olivella, Jaume; Wood, Guy H. (eds.). Cine-Lit 2000. Essays on hispanic film and fiction (in Spanish). Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University. ISBN 0-9631927-3-6. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  8. ^ Xuan, Jing (2003). "Calderón y el cine La vida es sueño y Abre los ojos de Alejandro Amenábar (pp. 479-92)". In Tietz, Manfred (ed.). Teatro Calderoniano Sobre el Tablado. Calderón y Su Puesta en Escena a Través de Los Siglos (in Spanish). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 978-3-515-08260-0. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  9. ^ Sorolla-Romero, Teresa (2018). "El relato tiembla. Narrativas fracturadas contemporáneas en el cine de Alejandro Amenábar y Pedro Almodóvar". Santiago: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (43): 35. doi:10.7764/cdi.43.1466. ISSN 0719-3661.
  10. ^ "Abre los ojos (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  11. ^ Open Your Eyes review, James Berardinelli, ReelViews.
  12. ^ Open Your Eyes review Archived 2008-06-14 at the Wayback Machine, Rob Blackwelder, SplicedWire
  13. ^ Open Your Eyes review, Richard Scheib, The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review
  14. ^ Open Your Eyes review, Holly E. Ordway, DVD Active
  15. ^ Open Your Eyes review, Aaron Beierle, DVD Talk
  16. ^ Delgado, Ana (27 September 2016). "Alejandro Amenábar: "Mi peor película es 'Abre los ojos'"". El Español.
  17. ^ Peter Cowie, ed. (1999). The Variety Almanac 1999. Boxtree Ltd. p. 50. ISBN 0-7522-2454-9.
  18. ^ Open Your Eyes at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  19. ^ Peter Cowie, ed. (1999). The Variety Almanac 1999. Boxtree Ltd. p. 196. ISBN 0-7522-2454-9.
  20. ^ "Abre los ojos". Premios Goya. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  21. ^ Guthmann, Edward (2001-12-14). "Vanilla guy / Smirky Tom Cruise lacks the depth for complex, surreal film". SFGATE. Retrieved 2022-06-06.

External links[edit]