About Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American director, writer, producer, and photographer of films, who lived in England during most of the last 40 years of his career. Kubrick was noted for the scrupulous care with which he chose his subjects, his slow method of working, the variety of genres he worked in, his technical perfectionism and his reclusiveness about his films and personal life. He worked far beyond the confines of the Hollywood system, maintaining almost complete artistic control and making movies according to the whims and time constraints of no one but himself, but with the rare advantage of big-studio financial support for all his endeavors. Oscar nominated on several occasions as screenwriter and director, his only personal win was for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kubrick is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished, innovative and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. He directed a number of highly acclaimed and often controversial films that have often been perceived as a reflection of his obsessive and perfectionist nature. His films are characterized by a formal visual style and meticulous attention to detail – his later films often have elements of surrealism and expressionism eschewing structured linear narrative. While often viewed as expressing an ironic pessimism, a few critics feel his films contain a cautious optimism when viewed more carefully. His works are noted as some of the "most original, provocative, and visionary motion pictures ever made".
Stanley Kubrick was a Look magazine photographer when he caught himself in the mirror of Rosemary Williams, a showgirl, in 1949. Kubrick's history in photography would later greatly influence his film directing.
Stanley Kubrick was born on July 26, 1928 at the Lying-In Hospital in Manhattan, the first of two children born to Jacques Leonard Kubrick (1901–85) and his wife Gertrude (née Perveler; 1903–85). His sister, Barbara, was born in 1934. Jacques Kubrick, whose parents were of Jewish Austro-Hungarian origin, was a doctor. At Stanley's birth, the Kubricks lived in an apartment at 2160 Clinton Ave. in The Bronx.
Kubrick's father taught him chess at age twelve, and the game remained a lifelong obsession. He also bought his son a Graflex camera when he was thirteen, triggering a fascination with still photography. As a teenager, Kubrick was interested in jazz, and briefly attempted a career as a drummer.
Kubrick attended William Howard Taft High School from 1941–45. He was a poor student, with a meager 67 grade average. He graduated from high school in 1945, and his poor grades, combined with the demand for college admissions from soldiers returning from the Second World War, eliminated any hopes of higher education. Later in life, Kubrick spoke disdainfully of his education and of education in general, maintaining that nothing about school interested him. His parents sent him to live with relatives for a year in Los Angeles in the hopes that it would help his academic growth.
While still in high school, he was chosen as an official school photographer for a year. In 1946, since he wasn't able to gain admission to day session classes at colleges, he briefly attended evening classes at the City College of New York (CCNY) and then left. Eventually, he sought jobs as a freelance photographer, and by graduation, he had sold a photographic series to Look magazine. Kubrick supplemented his income by playing chess "for quarters" in Washington Square Park and various Manhattan chess clubs. He became an apprentice photographer for Look in 1946, and later a full-time staff photographer. (Many early [1945–50] photographs by Kubrick have been published in the book Drama and Shadows [2005, Phaidon Press] and also appear as a special feature on the 2007 Special Edition DVD of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)
During his Look magazine years, Kubrick married Toba Metz (b. 1930) on May 29, 1948. They lived in Greenwich Village, eventually divorcing in 1951. During this time, Kubrick began frequenting film screenings at the Museum of Modern Art and the cinemas of New York City. He was particularly inspired by the complex, fluid camerawork of director Max Ophüls, whose films influenced Kubrick's later visual style.
Film career and later life
In 1951, Kubrick's friend Alex Singer persuaded him to start making short documentaries for The March of Time, a provider of newsreels to movie theatres. Kubrick agreed, and shot the independently financed Day of the Fight in 1951. The film notably employed a reverse tracking shot, which would become one of Kubrick's signature camera movements. Although its distributor went out of business that year, Kubrick has been said to have sold Day of the Fight to RKO Pictures for a profit of $100, although Kubrick himself said he lost $100 in Jeremy Bernstein, Interview With Stanley Kubrick in 1966. Inspired by this early success, Kubrick quit his job at Look magazine and began working on his second short documentary, Flying Padre (1951), funded by RKO. A third film, The Seafarers (1953), Kubrick's first color film, was a 30-minute promotional film for the Seafarers' International Union. These three films constitute Kubrick's only surviving work in the documentary genre. However, it is believed that he was involved in other shorts, which have been lost—most notably World Assembly of Youth (1952). He also served as second unit director on an episode of the Omnibus television program about the life of Abraham Lincoln. None of these shorts has ever been officially released, though they have been widely bootlegged, and clips are used in the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures. In addition, Day of the Fight and Flying Padre have been shown on TCM.
1950s: Fear and Desire, Killer's Kiss, The Killing and Paths of Glory
Kubrick moved to narrative feature films with Fear and Desire (1953), the story of a team of soldiers caught behind enemy lines in a fictional war. Kubrick and his then-wife, Toba Metz, were the only crew on the film, which was written by Kubrick's friend Howard Sackler, who later became a successful playwright. Fear and Desire garnered respectable reviews but was a commercial failure. In later life, Kubrick was embarrassed by the film, which he dismissed as an amateur effort. He refused to allow Fear and Desire to be shown at retrospectives and public screenings and did everything possible to keep it out of circulation. At least one copy remained in the hands of a private collector, and the film subsequently surfaced on VHS and later on DVD.
Kubrick's marriage to Toba Metz ended during the making of Fear and Desire. He met his second wife, Austrian-born dancer and theatrical designer Ruth Sobotka, in 1952. They lived together in the East Village from 1952 until their marriage on January 15, 1955. They moved to Hollywood that summer. Sobotka, who made a cameo appearance in Kubrick's next film, Killer's Kiss (1955), also served as art director on The Killing (1956). Like Fear and Desire, Killer's Kiss is a short feature film, with a running time of slightly more than an hour. It met with limited commercial and critical success. The film is about a young heavyweight boxer at the end of his career who gets involved in a love triangle in which his rival is involved with organized crime. Both Fear and Desire and Killer's Kiss were privately funded by Kubrick's family and friends.
Although film noir had peaked in the 1940s, both the plot and cinematography of The Killing strongly evoked that genre, and it is now regarded as one of the best of that kind. Note the use of shadows and cigarette smoke; note also the resemblance of the mask to those used in A Clockwork Orange.
Alex Singer introduced Kubrick to a young producer named James B. Harris, and the two became close friends. Their business partnership, Harris-Kubrick Productions, would finance Kubrick's next three films. The two bought the rights to a Lionel White novel called Clean Break, which Kubrick and coscreenwriter Jim Thompson turned into The Killing. The story is about a meticulously planned race track robbery gone wrong after the mobsters get away with the money. (The film title may refer either to the robbery or the subsequent murder of a group of mobsters by a jealous boyfriend). Starring Sterling Hayden, The Killing was Kubrick's first full-length feature film, shot with a professional cast and crew. The resulting film was unusual in 1950s American cinema in that it had a nonlinear storyline, in a manner imitated nearly 40 years later by director Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino has acknowledged Kubrick's film as a major influence, and critics have noticed the similarity in plot structure. In many ways, The Killing followed the conventions of film noir, both in its plotting and cinematography style. That kind of crime caper film had peaked in the 1940s; but today, many regard this film as one of the best of the noir genre. While it was not a financial success, it received good reviews.
The widespread admiration for The Killing brought Harris-Kubrick Productions to the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The studio offered them its massive collection of copyrighted stories from which to choose their next project. During this time, Kubrick also collaborated with Calder Willingham on an adaptation of the Austrian novel The Burning Secret. Although Kubrick was enthusiastic about the project, it was eventually shelved.
Long before it became film fashion after the Vietnam era, Kubrick portrayed war as brutal, using stark black-and-white images in Paths of Glory.
Kubrick's next film Paths of Glory was set during World War I and based on Humphrey Cobb's 1935 antiwar novel of the same name. It is about a French army unit ordered on an impossible mission by their superiors. As a result of the mission's failure, three innocent soldiers are charged with cowardice, as an example to the other troops. Kirk Douglas was cast as Colonel Dax, a humanitarian officer who tries to prevent the soldiers' execution. Douglas was instrumental in securing financing for the ambitious production. The film was not a significant commercial success, but it was critically acclaimed and widely admired within the industry, establishing Kubrick as a major up-and-coming young filmmaker. Critics over the years have praised the film's unsentimental, spare, and unvarnished combat scenes and its raw black-and-white cinematography. Steven Spielberg has named this one of his favorite Kubrick films.
During the production of Paths of Glory in Munich, Kubrick met and romanced young German actress Christiane Harlan (credited by her stage name, "Susanne Christian"), who played the only female speaking part in the film. Kubrick divorced his second wife, Ruth Sobotka, in 1957. Christiane Susanne Harlan (b. 1932 in Germany) belonged to a theatrical family and had trained as an actress. She and Kubrick married in 1958 and remained together until his death in 1999. During her marriage to Kubrick, Christiane concentrated on a career as a painter. In addition to raising Christiane's young daughter Katharina (b. 1953) from her first marriage to the late German actor Werner Bruhns (d. 1977), the couple had two daughters, Anya (b. 1959) and Vivian (b. 1960). Christiane's brother Jan Harlan was Kubrick's executive producer from 1975 onward.
1960s: Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove and 2001
While Douglas and Kubrick worked on Paths of Glory, Kubrick was both the film's director and executive producer. But on Spartacus, Douglas, in addition to being lead actor, was executive producer, making Kubrick's directorial role subordinate. They meshed well on the first film, but Spartacus severed their earlier bond.
Upon his return to the United States, Kubrick worked for six months on the Marlon Brando vehicle One-Eyed Jacks (1961). The two clashed over a number of casting decisions, and Brando eventually fired him and decided to direct the picture himself. Kubrick worked on a number of unproduced screenplays, including Lunatic at Large, which Kubrick intended to develop into a movie", until Kirk Douglas asked him to take over Douglas' epic production Spartacus (1960) from Anthony Mann, who had been fired by the studio two weeks into shooting.
Based upon the true story of a doomed uprising of Roman slaves, Spartacus was a difficult production. Creative differences arose between Kubrick and Douglas, and the two reportedly had a stormy working relationship. Frustrated by his lack of creative control, Kubrick later largely disowned the film, which further angered Douglas. The friendship the two men had formed on Paths of Glory was destroyed by the experience of making the film. Years later, Douglas referred to Kubrick as "a talented shit."
Despite the on-set troubles, Spartacus was a critical and commercial success and established Kubrick as a major director. However, its embattled production convinced Kubrick to find ways of working with Hollywood financing while remaining independent of its production system, which he called "film by fiat, film by frenzy."
Spartacus is the only Stanley Kubrick film in which Kubrick had no hand in the screenplay, no final cut, no producing credit, nor any say in the casting.  It is largely Kirk Douglas' project.
Spartacus would go on to win 4 Oscars with one going to Peter Ustinov, for his turn as slave dealer Batiatus, the only actor to win one under Kubrick's direction.
In 1962, Kubrick moved to England to film Lolita, and he would live there for the rest of his life. The original motivation was to film Lolita in a country with laxer censorship laws. However, Kubrick had to remain in England to film Dr. Strangelove since Peter Sellers was not permitted to leave England at the time as he was involved in divorce proceedings, and the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey required the large capacity of the sound stages of Shepperton studios, which were not available in America. It was after filming the first two of these films in England and in the early planning stages of 2001 that Kubrick decided to settle in England permanently.
Lolita was one of most controversial novels of the century, given its theme. Here, Lolita kisses her stepfather Humbert goodnight while he plays chess with her mother (Shelley Winters). Any kind of overt sexual content had to be toned down significantly for Kubrick's film adaptation, and most of the sexual acts between its title character and Humbert are only hinted at.
Lolita was Kubrick's first film to generate major controversy. The book, by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, dealt with an affair between a middle-aged man named Humbert Humbert (James Mason) and his twelve-year-old stepdaughter, and was already notorious as an "obscene" novel and a cause célèbre when Kubrick embarked on the project. The difficult subject matter was mocked in the film's famous tagline, "How did they ever make a film of Lolita?" Kubrick originally engaged Nabokov to adapt his own novel for the screen. The writer first produced a 400-page screenplay, which he then reduced to 200. The final screenplay was written by Kubrick himself, and Nabokov himself estimated that only 20% of his work made it into the film. Nabokov's original draft was later published under the title Lolita: A Screenplay.
Prior to its release, Kubrick realized that to get a Production Code seal, the screenplay would have to not be overly provocative, treading lightly with its theme. Kubrick tried to make some elements more acceptable by omitting all material referring to Humbert's lifelong infatuation with "nymphets" and possibly ensuring Lolita looked like a teenager. James Harris, Kubrick's co-producer and uncredited co-screenwriter of Lolita decided with Kubrick to raise Lolita's age. Nonetheless, Kubrick had liaised with the censors during production and it was only "slightly edited", in particular removing the eroticism between Lolita and Humbert. As a result, the novel's more perverse aspects were toned down in the final cut, leaving much to the viewer's imagination. Kubrick would later say that had he known the severity of the censorship he would face, he probably would not have made the film.
Lolita was the first of two times Kubrick worked with British comic actor Peter Sellers, the second being Dr. Strangelove (1964). Sellers' role is that of Clare Quilty, a second older man unknown to Humbert who is involved with Lolita, serving dramatically as Humbert's darker doppelganger. In the novel, Quilty is behind the scenes for most of the story, but Kubrick brings him to the foreground, which resulted in an expansion of his role (even then running to only about half an hour's screen time). Kubrick adds the dramatic device of Quilty's pretending to be multiple characters, allowing Sellers to employ his gift for mock accents.
Critical reception of the film was mixed; many praised it for its daring subject matter, while others were surprised by the lack of intimacy between Lolita and Humbert. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Sue Lyon, who played the title role, won a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer.
Film critic Gene Youngblood holds that stylistically Lolita is a transitional film for Kubrick, "marking the turning point from a naturalistic cinema...to the surrealism of the later films."
Many viewers of Dr. Strangelove did not initially realize that Kubrick had cast Peter Sellers in three roles, all with distinctively different appearances and accents.
Kubrick's next film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), became a cult film and is now considered a classic. Roger Ebert has written that it is the best satirical film ever made. The screenplay—based upon the novel Red Alert, by ex-RAF flight lieutenant Peter George (writing as Peter Bryant)—was cowritten by Kubrick and George, with contributions by American satirist Terry Southern. Red Alert is a serious, cautionary tale of accidental atomic war. However, Kubrick found the conditions leading to nuclear war so absurd that the story became a sinister macabre comedy. Once so reconceived, Kubrick recruited Terry Southern to polish the final screenplay.
The story centers on an American nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, initiated by renegade U.S.A.F. Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden; the character's name is a reference to Jack the Ripper) without official authorization. When Ripper gives his orders, the bombers are all at fail-safe points, before which passing they cannot arm their warheads, and past which, they cannot proceed without direct orders. Once past this point, the planes will only return with a prearranged recall code. The film intercuts between three locales: 1) Ripper's air force base, where RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Sellers) tries to stop the mad Gen. Ripper by obtaining the codes; 2) the Pentagon War Room, where the President of the United States (Sellers) and U.S.A.F. Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) try to develop a strategy with the Soviets to stop Gen. Ripper's B-52 bombers from dropping nuclear bombs on Russia; and 3) Major Kong's (Slim Pickens) B-52 bomber, where he and his crew of airmen (never knowing their orders are false) doggedly try to complete their mission. It soon becomes clear that the bombers may reach Russia, since only Gen. Ripper knows the recall codes. At this point, the character of Dr. Strangelove (Sellers' third role) is introduced. His Nazi-style plans for ensuring the survival of the fittest of the human race in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust are the black-comedy highlight of the film.
Peter Sellers, who had played a small but pivotal part in Lolita, was hired to play four roles in Dr. Strangelove. He eventually played three, due to an injured leg and his difficulty in mastering bomber pilot Major "King" Kong's Texas accent. Kubrick later called Sellers "amazing", but lamented the fact that the actor's manic energy rarely lasted beyond two or three takes. To overcome this problem, Kubrick ran two cameras simultaneously and let Sellers improvise.
The film prefigured the antiwar sentiments which would become explosive only a few years after its release. It was highly irreverent toward war policies of the U.S., which were largely considered sacrosanct up to that time. Eight months after the release of Strangelove, the straight thriller Fail-Safe with a plot remarkably similar to that of Dr. Strangelove was released. The film earned four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director) and the New York Film Critics' Best Director award.
2001 is the first of many Kubrick films to use an all-classical score. Kubrick's famed opening shot of the Sun, Earth and Moon is one of several accompanied by Richard Strauss's majestic fanfarelike Also sprach Zarathustra. Space flight is accompanied by Johann Strauss's graceful The Blue Danube, and all appearances of the monolith are accompanied by the unearthly modernistic Requiem by György Ligeti.
Kubrick spent five years developing his next film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The film was conceived as a Cinerama spectacle and was photographed in Super Panavision 70. Kubrick cowrote the screenplay with science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke, expanding on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel." Kubrick reportedly told Clarke that his intention was to make "the proverbial great science fiction film."
2001 begins four million years ago with an encounter between a group of apes and a mysterious black monolith, which seems to trigger in them the ability to use a bone as both a tool and a weapon. Used as the latter allows them to claim a water hole from another group of apes, who have no tool-wielding ability. A victorious ape tosses his bone into the air, at which point the film makes a celebrated jump cut to an orbiting weapons satellite, circa 2000. At this time, a group of Americans at their moon base have dug up a similar monolith. Geological evidence indicates that it was deliberately buried four million years ago. When the sun rises over the monolith, it sends a radio signal to Jupiter. Eighteen months later, the U.S. sends a group of astronauts aboard the spaceship Discovery on a mission to Jupiter, the purpose of which is to investigate the monolith's signal, although this is concealed from the crew. During the flight, the ship's sentient HAL 9000 computer malfunctions but resists disconnection, believing its control of the mission to be crucial. The computer terminates life support for most of the crew before it is successfully shut down. The surviving astronaut, David Bowman (Keir Dullea), in a tiny space pod, encounters another monolith in orbit around Jupiter, whereupon he is hurled into a portal in space at high speed, witnessing many astronomical phenomena. His interstellar journey concludes with his transformation into a mysterious new being resembling a fetus enclosed in an orb of light, last seen gazing at Earth from space.
The $10,000,000 (U.S.) film was a massive production for its time. The groundbreaking visual effects were overseen by Kubrick and were engineered by a team that included a young Douglas Trumbull, who would become famous in his own right for his work on the films Silent Running and Blade Runner. Kubrick extensively used traveling matte photography to film space flight, a technique also used nine years later by George Lucas in making Star Wars, although that film also used motion-control effects that were unavailable to Kubrick at the time. Kubrick made innovative use of slit-scan photography to film the Stargate sequence. The film's striking cinematography was the work of legendary British director of photography Geoffrey Unsworth, who would later photograph classic films such as Cabaret and Superman. Manufacturing companies were consulted as to what the design of both special-purpose and everyday objects would look like in the future. At the time of the movie's release, Arthur C. Clarke predicted that a generation of engineers would design real spacecraft based upon 2001 "…even if it isn't the best way to do it." The film also is a rare instance of portraying space travel realistically, with complete silence in the vacuum of space and a realistic representation of weightlessness.
The film is famous for using classical music in place of an original score. Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra and Johann Strauss's The Blue Danube waltz became for a while indelibly associated with the film, especially the former, as it was not well-known to the public prior to the film. Kubrick also used music by contemporary avant-garde Hungarian composer György Ligeti, although some of the pieces were altered without Ligeti's consent. The appearance of Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna, and Requiem on the 2001 soundtrack was the first wide commercial exposure of Ligeti's work. This use of "program" music was not originally planned. Kubrick had commissioned composer Alex North to write a full-length score for the film, but Kubrick became so attached to the temporary soundtrack he had constructed during editing that he dropped the idea of an original score entirely.
Although it eventually became an enormous success, the film was not an immediate hit. Initial critical reaction was extremely hostile, with critics attacking the film's lack of dialogue, slow pacing, and seemingly impenetrable storyline. One of the film's few defenders was Penelope Gilliatt, who called it (in The New Yorker) "some kind of a great film". Word of mouth among young audiences—especially the 1960s counterculture audience, who loved the movie's "Star Gate" sequence, a seemingly psychedelic journey to the infinite reaches of the cosmos—made the film a hit. Despite nominations in the directing, writing, and producing categories, the only Academy Award Kubrick ever received was for supervising the special effects of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Today, however, many consider it the greatest sci-fi film ever made, and it is a staple on Top 10 lists of all-time.
Artistically, 2001 was a radical departure from Kubrick's previous films. It contains only 45 minutes of spoken dialogue, over a running time of two hours and twenty minutes. The fairly mundane dialogue is mostly superfluous to the images and music. The film's most memorable dialogue belongs to the computer HAL in HAL's exchanges with Dave Bowman. Some argue that Kubrick is portraying a future humanity largely dissociated from its environment. The film's ambiguous, perplexing ending continues to fascinate contemporary audiences and critics. After this film, Kubrick would never experiment so radically with special effects or narrative form, but his subsequent films maintain some level of ambiguity.
Interpretations of 2001: A Space Odyssey are numerous and diverse. Despite having been released in 1968, it still prompts debate today. When critic Joseph Gelmis asked Kubrick about the meaning of the film, Kubrick replied:
They are the areas I prefer not to discuss, because they are highly subjective and will differ from viewer to viewer. In this sense, the film becomes anything the viewer sees in it. If the film stirs the emotions and penetrates the subconscious of the viewer, if it stimulates, however inchoately, his mythological and religious yearnings and impulses, then it has succeeded.
2001: A Space Odyssey is perhaps Kubrick's most famous and influential film. Steven Spielberg called it his generation's big bang, focusing attention upon the space race. It was a precursor to the explosion of the science fiction film market nine years later, which began with the release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
1970s: A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon
In A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick continued his innovative use of classical music begun in 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, instead of accompanying graceful space flight, the music accompanied violence and rape. The slow-motion fight scene about to commence is choreographed to Rossini's overture to "The Thieving Magpie."
After 2001, Kubrick initially attempted to make a film about the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. When financing fell through, Kubrick went looking for a project that he could film quickly on a small budget. He eventually settled on A Clockwork Orange (1971). His adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel is a dark, shocking exploration of violence in human society. The film was initially released with an X rating in the United States and caused considerable controversy. The film's iconic poster imagery was created by legendary designer Bill Gold.
The story takes place in a futuristic version of Great Britain that is both authoritarian and chaotic. The central character is a teenage hooligan named Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), who, along with his companion "droogs", gleefully torments, beats, robs, tortures, and rapes without conscience or remorse. His brutal beating and murder of an older woman finally lands Alex in prison. Alex undergoes an experimental medical aversion treatment, known as the Ludovico Technique, that inhibits his violent tendencies, though he has no real free moral choice. At the public demonstration of the success of the technique, Alex is treated cruelly but does not fight back; the treatment has made him less than human. He has been conditioned against classical music, his love of which was his one human feature, and apparently all of his sex drive is gone. We further see hints that the promotion of the treatment is politically motivated. After being freed, he is found by his former partners in crime who had betrayed him and who are now policemen, and they beat him mercilessly.
He then comes to the home of a political writer who disdains "the modern age" and is initially sympathetic to Alex's plight until he recognizes Alex as the young man who brutally raped his wife and paralyzed him a few years before. Alex then becomes a pawn in a political game.
The society was sometimes perceived as Communist (as Michel Ciment pointed out in an interview with Kubrick, although he himself didn't feel that way) due to its slight ties to Russian culture. The teenage slang has a heavily Russian vocabulary, which can be attributed to Burgess. There is some evidence to suggest that the society is a socialist one, or at least a society moving out of a failed, Leftist socialism and into a Rightist or fascist society. In the novel, streets have paintings of working men in the style of Russian socialist art, and in the film, there is a mural of socialist artwork with obscenities drawn on it. As well, Alex's residence was shot on actual failed Labour Party architecture (as Malcolm McDowell points out on the DVD commentary), and the name "Municipal Flat Block 18A, Linear North" alludes to socialist-style housing. Later in the film, when the new right-wing government takes power, the atmosphere is certainly more authoritarian than the anarchist air of the beginning. Kubrick's response to Ciment's question remained ambiguous as to exactly what kind of society it is. He held that the film held comparisons between both the left and right end of the political spectrum and that there is little difference between the two. Kubrick stated, "The Minister, played by Anthony Sharp, is clearly a figure of the Right. The writer, Patrick Magee, is a lunatic of the Left. ...They differ only in their dogma. Their means and ends are hardly distinguishable."
Kubrick photographed A Clockwork Orange quickly and almost entirely on location in and around London. Despite the low-tech nature of the film as compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick showed his talent for innovation; at one point, he threw "an old Newman Sinclair clockwork mechanism camera" off a rooftop in order to achieve the effect he wanted. For the score, Kubrick enlisted electronic music composer Wendy Carlos—at the time, known as Walter Carlos (Switched-On Bach)—to adapt famous classical works (such as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony) for the Moog synthesizer.
It is pivotal to the plot that the lead character, Alex, is fond of classical music, and that the brainwashing Ludovico treatment accidentally conditions him against classical music. As such, it was natural for Kubrick to continue the tradition begun in 2001: A Space Odyssey of using a great deal of classical music in the score. However, in this film, classical music accompanies scenes of violent mayhem and coercive sexuality rather than of graceful space flight and mysterious alien presences. Both Pauline Kael (who generally disliked Kubrick) and Roger Ebert (who often praises Kubrick) found Kubrick's use of juxtaposing classical music and violence in this film unpleasant, Ebert calling it a "cute, cheap, dead-end dimension," and Kael, "self-important." Burgess, in his introduction to his own stage adaptation of the novel, held that ultimately, classical music is what will finally redeem Alex.
The film was extremely controversial because of its explicit depiction of teenage gang rape and violence. It was released in the same year as Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs and Don Siegel's Dirty Harry, and the three films sparked a ferocious debate in the media about the social effects of cinematic violence. The controversy was exacerbated when copycat crimes were committed in England by criminals wearing the same costumes as characters in A Clockwork Orange. British readers of the novel noted that Kubrick had omitted the final chapter (also omitted from American editions of the book) in which Alex finds redemption and sanity.
After receiving death threats to himself and his family as a result of the controversy, Kubrick took the unusual step of removing the film from circulation in Britain. It was unavailable in the United Kingdom until its re-release in 2000, a year after Kubrick's death, although it could be seen in continental Europe. The Scala cinema in London's Kings Cross showed the film in the early 1990s, and at Kubrick's insistence, the cinema was sued and put out of business, thus depriving London of one of its very few independent cinemas. It is now the Scala club. In early 1973, Kubrick re-released A Clockwork Orange to cinemas in the United States with footage modified so that it could get its rating reduced to an R. This enabled many more newspapers to advertise it, since in 1972 many newspapers had stopped carrying any advertising for X-rated films due to the new association of that rating with pornography.
In the mid-1990s, a documentary entitled Forbidden Fruit, about the censorship controversy, was released in Britain. Kubrick was unable to prevent the documentary makers from including footage from A Clockwork Orange in their film.
Special lenses were developed for Barry Lyndon to allow filming using only natural light.
Kubrick's next film, released in 1975, was an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's The Luck of Barry Lyndon, also known as Barry Lyndon, a picaresque novel about the adventures and misadventures of an 18th-century Irish gambler and social climber. After serving in the Prussian army, Lyndon slowly insinuates himself into English high society, eventually marrying the Countess of Lyndon. The world of the aristocracy turns out to be a hollow paradise, dull and decaying. Lyndon is ultimately unable to maintain his good standing there and falls from grace after a series of persecutions.
Reviewers such as Pauline Kael, who had been critical of Kubrick's previous work, found Barry Lyndon a cold, slow-moving, and lifeless film. Its measured pace and length—more than three hours—put off many American critics and audiences, although it received positive reviews from Rex Reed and Richard Schickel. Time magazine published a cover story about the film, and Kubrick was nominated for three Academy Awards. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, more than any other Kubrick film. Despite this, Barry Lyndon was not a box office success in the U.S., although the film found a great audience in Europe, particularly in France.
As with most of Kubrick's films, Barry Lyndon's reputation has grown through the years, particularly among other filmmakers. Director Martin Scorsese has cited it as his favorite Kubrick film. Steven Spielberg has praised its "impeccable technique", though, when younger, he famously described it "like going through the Prado without lunch."
As in his other films, Kubrick's cinematography and lighting techniques were highly innovative. Most famously, interior scenes were shot with a specially adapted high-speed f/0.7 Zeiss camera lens originally developed for NASA. This allowed many scenes to be lit only with candlelight, creating two-dimensional diffused-light images reminiscent of 18th-century paintings.
Like its two predecessors, the film does not have an original score. Irish traditional songs (performed by The Chieftains) are combined with works such as Antonio Vivaldi's Cello Concerto in B, a Johann Sebastian Bach Double Concerto, George Frideric Handel's Sarabande from the Keyboard Suite in D minor (HWV 448, HG II/ii/4), and Franz Schubert's German Dance No. 1 in C major, Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat, and Impromptu No. 1 in C minor. The music was conducted and adapted by Leonard Rosenman, for which he won an Oscar.
In 1976, production designer Ken Adam, who had worked with Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove and Barry Lyndon, asked Kubrick to visit the recently completed 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios to provide advice on how to light the enormous soundstage, which had been built for and was being prepared for the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. Kubrick agreed to consult when it was promised that nobody would ever know of his involvement. This was honored until after his death in 1999, when in 2000 the fact was revealed by Adam in the documentary on the making of The Spy Who Loved Me on the special edition DVD of the 007 movie.
1980s: The Shining and Full Metal Jacket
Kubrick's film was the second to make notably innovative use of the Steadicam, which can track motion smoothly without a dolly track.
The pace of Kubrick's work slowed considerably after Barry Lyndon, and he did not make another film for five years. The Shining, released in 1980, was adapted from the novel of the same name by bestselling horror writer Stephen King. The film starred Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, a failed writer who takes a job as an off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a high-class resort deep in the Colorado mountains. The job requires spending the winter in the isolated hotel with his wife, Wendy (played by Shelley Duvall) and their young son, Danny, who is gifted with a form of telepathy—the "shining" of the film's title.
As winter takes hold, the family's isolation deepens, and the demons and ghosts of the Overlook Hotel's dark past begin to awake. The hotel displays increasingly horrible, phantasmagoric images to Danny. Meanwhile, Jack is slowly driven mad by the haunted surroundings until he finally collapses into homicidal psychosis.
The film was shot entirely on London soundstages, with the exception of second-unit exterior footage, which was filmed in Colorado, Montana, and Oregon. In order to convey the claustrophobic oppression of the haunted hotel, Kubrick made extensive use of the newly invented Steadicam, a weight-balanced camera support, which allowed for smooth camera movement in enclosed spaces.
More than any of his other films, The Shining gave rise to the legend of Kubrick as a megalomanic perfectionist. Reportedly, he demanded hundreds of takes of certain scenes (approximately 1.3 million feet of film was shot). This process was particularly difficult for actress Shelley Duvall, who was used to the faster, improvisational style of director Robert Altman.
Stephen King disliked the movie, calling Kubrick "a man who thinks too much and feels too little." In 1997, King collaborated with Mick Garris to create a television miniseries version of the novel that was more faithful to King's original.
The film opened to mostly negative reviews, but proved a commercial success. As with most Kubrick films, subsequent critical reaction has treated the film more favorably. Among horror movie fans, The Shining is a cult classic, often appearing at the top of best horror film lists alongside Psycho (1960), The Exorcist (1973) and other horror classics. Some of its images, such as an antique elevator disgorging a deluge of blood, are among the most recognizable and widely known images from any Stanley Kubrick film. The financial success of The Shining renewed Warner Brothers' faith in Kubrick's ability to make artistically satisfying and profitable films after the commercial failure of Barry Lyndon in the United States.
Reviewers noted that unlike most Vietnam War films set in lush jungle environments, Kubrick made a mainly urban Vietnam film set around bombed-out buildings, giving this war film a more distinctively grim and bleak quality.
Seven years passed: then came Kubrick's next film, Full Metal Jacket (1987), an adaptation of Gustav Hasford's Vietnam War novel The Short-Timers, starring Matthew Modine as Joker, Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother, R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence. Kubrick said to film critic Steven Hall that his attraction to Gustav Hasford's book was because it was "neither antiwar or prowar", held "no moral or political position", and was primarily concerned with "the way things are."
The film begins at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, U.S., where Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman relentlessly pushes his recruits through basic training in order to transform them from worthless "maggots" into motivated and disciplined killing machines. Private Lawrence, an overweight, slow-witted recruit who Hartman has nicknamed "Gomer Pyle", is unable to cope with the program and slowly cracks under the strain. On the eve of graduation, he has a psychotic breakdown and murders Hartman before killing himself.
In characteristic Kubrick style, the second half of the film jumps abruptly to Vietnam, following Joker, since promoted to sergeant. As a reporter for the United States military's newspaper, Stars and Stripes, Joker occupies war's middle ground, using wit and sarcasm to detach himself from the carnage around him. Though a Marine at war, he is also a reporter and is thus compelled to abide by the ethics of his profession. The film then follows an infantry platoon's advance on and through Hue City, decimated by the Tet Offensive. The film climaxes in a battle between Joker's platoon and a sniper hiding in the rubble, who is revealed to be a young girl. She almost kills Joker until his reporter partner shoots and severely injures her. Joker then kills her to put her out of her misery.
Filming a Vietnam War film in England was a considerable challenge for Kubrick and his production team. Much of the filming was done in the Docklands area of London, with the ruined-city set created by production designer Anton Furst. As a result, the film is visually very different from other Vietnam War films such as Platoon and Hamburger Hill, most of which were shot in the Far East. Instead of a tropical, Southeast-Asian jungle, the second half of the story unfolds in a city, illuminating the urban warfare aspect of a war generally portrayed (and thus perceived) as jungle warfare, notwithstanding significant urban skirmishes like the Tet offensive. Reviewers and commentators thought this contributed to the bleakness and seriousness of the film. During the making of the film, Kubrick was also helped by R. Lee Ermey, who acted and worked as technical adviser.
Full Metal Jacket received mixed critical reviews on release but also found a reasonably large audience, despite being overshadowed by Oliver Stone's Platoon and Clint Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge. Like Kubrick's other films, its critical status has increased immensely since its initial release.
1990s: Eyes Wide Shut
The casting of real-life celebrity couple Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise as a married couple in a film rumored (correctly) to have a sexually charged plot fueled wild speculations about the film's content.
Kubrick's final film was Eyes Wide Shut, starring then-married actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a wealthy Manhattan couple on a sexual odyssey.
The story of Eyes Wide Shut is based on Arthur Schnitzler's Freudian novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story in English), although the story has been moved from Vienna in the 1920s to New York City in the 1990s. It follows Dr. William Harford's journey into the sexual underworld of New York City, after his wife, Alice, has shattered his faith in her fidelity by confessing to having fantasized about giving him and their daughter up for one night with another man. Until then, Harford had presumed women are more naturally faithful than men. This new revelation generates doubt and despair, and he begins to roam the streets of New York, acting blindly on his jealousy.
After trespassing upon the rituals of a sinister, mysterious sexual cult, Dr. Harford thinks twice before seeking sexual revenge against his wife. Upon returning home, his wife now gives an anguished confession she has had a dream about making love to several men at once. After his own dangerous escapades, Dr. Harford has no high moral ground over her. The couple begin to patch their relationship.
The film was in production for more than two years, and two of the main members of the cast, Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason Leigh, were replaced in the course of the filming. Although it is set in New York City, the film was mostly shot on London soundstages, with little location shooting. Shots of Manhattan itself were pickup shots filmed in New York City by a second-unit crew. Because of Kubrick's secrecy about the film, mostly inaccurate rumors abounded about its plot and content. Most especially, the story's sexual content provoked speculation, some journalists writing that it would be "the sexiest film ever made." The casting of then celebrity-actor supercouple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a husband-wife couple in the film increased the prerelease journalistic hyperbole.
Eyes Wide Shut, like Lolita and A Clockwork Orange before it, faced censorship before release. In the United States and Canada, digitally manufactured silhouette figures were strategically placed to mask explicit copulation scenes so as to secure an R rating from the MPAA. In Europe, and the rest of the world, the film has been released uncut, in its original form. The October 2007 DVD reissue contains the uncut version, making it available to North American audiences for the first time.
In 1999—four days after screening a final cut of Eyes Wide Shut for his family, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Warner Brothers executives—70-year-old Kubrick died of a heart attack in his sleep. He was buried next to his favorite tree in Childwickbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England, U.K.
Projects unrealized or completed by others
The Burning Secret and Natural Child
In 1956, after MGM turned down Harris and Kubrick's request to film Paths of Glory, they invited him to look through their other properties. Harris and Kubrick discovered Stefan Zweig's novel The Burning Secret, in which a young baron who tries to seduce a young Jewish woman by first befriending her twelve-year-old son, who eventually becomes wise to the situation. Kubrick was very excited about this novel and hired novelist Calder Willingham to produce a screenplay, but Production Code restrictions made the project impossible.
Kubrick had earlier been interested in adapting the same Calder Willingham novel Natural Child, but quickly realized it could not be done within the Production Code.
Main article: One-Eyed Jacks
The Hollywood Reporter announced on October 18, 1956 that producer Frank Rosenberg had bought rights to Charles Neider's novel The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones for $40,000. Two years later, Pennebaker Inc., Marlon Brando's independent production company, bought the rights to the novel as well as Sam Peckinpah's first-draft screenplay adaptation for $150,000. Even at this time, it was announced that Brando might direct.
Later that year, Kubrick was announced as director of Gun's Up, the working title for the production. Shortly after this announcement, the name of the film was changed to One-Eyed Jacks and Pina Pellicer was announced as "the unanimous choice of Brando, Rosenberg, and Kubrick" to play the female lead.
On November 20, 1958, Kubrick quit as director of One-Eyed Jacks, stating that he had the utmost respect for Marlon Brando as one of "the world's foremost artists" but had recently acquired the rights to Nabokov's Lolita and wanted to begin production work immediately in light of this wonderful opportunity. The film was completed with directorial credit given to Marlon Brando.
After the success of 2001, Kubrick planned a large-scale biographical film about Napoleon Bonaparte. He did much research, read books about the French Emperor, and wrote a preliminary screenplay (which has become available on the Internet). With assistants, he meticulously created a card catalogue of the places and deeds of Napoleon's inner circle during its operative years. Kubrick scouted locations, planning to film large portions of the story in the same places as in Napoleon's life. In notes to his financial backers, preserved in The Kubrick Archives, Kubrick told them he was unsure how his Napoleon film would turn out, but that he expected to create "the best movie ever made."
Ultimately, the project was canceled for the prohibitive cost of location filming, the Western release of Sergei Bondarchuk's epic film version of Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace (1968), and the commercial failure of Bondarchuk's Napoleon-themed film Waterloo (1970). Much of his historical research would influence Barry Lyndon (1975), which was set in the late eighteenth century, just before Napoleon's wars.
In a conversation with the British Film Institute, Kubrick's brother-in-law, Jan Harlan, stated that at the time the film was about to go into production, before it was cancelled, the English actor David Hemmings was his favourite choice to play Napoleon. Other choices including Oscar Werner and Jack Nicholson. After years of preproduction, the movie was set aside indefinitely in favor of more economically feasible projects. As late as 1987, Kubrick stated that he had not given up on the project, mentioning that he had read almost 500 books on the historical figure and that he was convinced that a film worthy of the subject had not yet appeared.
As early as 1976, Stanley Kubrick wanted to make a film about the Holocaust, trying to persuade Isaac Bashevis Singer to contribute an original screenplay. Kubrick sought a "dramatic structure that compressed the complex and vast information into the story of an individual who represented the essence of this man-made hell." Singer declined, saying, "I don't know the first thing about the Holocaust." In the early 1990s, Kubrick almost went into production on a film of Louis Begley's Wartime Lies, the story of a boy and his aunt in hiding during The Holocaust. The first-draft screenplay, titled "Aryan Papers", had been penned by Kubrick himself. Full Metal Jacket coscreenwriter Michael Herr reports that Kubrick had considered casting Julia Roberts and Uma Thurman as the aunt. Eventually, Johanna ter Steege was cast as the aunt and Joseph Mazzello as the young boy, with Kubrick even travelling to the Czech city of Brno as a possible location for wartime Warsaw. But Kubrick chose not to make the film due to the release of Steven Spielberg's Holocaust-themed Schindler's List in 1993. In addition, according to Kubrick's wife, Christiane, the subject itself had become too depressing and difficult for the director. Kubrick eventually concluded that an accurate film about the Holocaust was beyond the capacity of cinema and abandoned the project in 1995 and turned his attention back to A.I.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Main article: A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Throughout the 1980s and early '90s, Kubrick collaborated with Brian Aldiss on an expansion of his short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" into a three-act film, along with other writers such as Sara Maitland and Ian Watson) under various names, including "Pinocchio" and "Artificial Intelligence.". It was a futuristic fairy-tale about a robot that resembles and behaves as a child, sold as a temporary surrogate to a family whose real son is in suspended animation with a deadly disease. The story focuses on the efforts of the robot to become a 'real boy' in a manner similar to Pinocchio.
Kubrick reportedly held long telephone discussions with Steven Spielberg regarding the film, and, according to Spielberg, at one point stated that the subject matter was closer to Spielberg's sensibilities than his. In 1999, following Kubrick's death, Spielberg took the various drafts and notes left by Kubrick and his writers and composed a new screenplay and, in association with what remained of Kubrick's production unit, made the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, starring Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, and William Hurt. The film was released in June 2001.
The film contains a posthumous producing credit for Stanley Kubrick at the beginning and the brief dedication "For Stanley Kubrick" at the end. The film contains many recurrent Kubrick motifs, such as an omniscient narrator, an extreme form of the three-act structure, the themes of humanity and inhumanity, and a sardonic view of Freudian psychology. In addition, John Williams' score contains many allusions to pieces heard in other Kubrick films.
Lunatic at Large
On November 1, 2006, Philip Hobbs, Kubrick's son-in-law, announced that he would be shepherding a film treatment of Lunatic at Large, which was commissioned by Kubrick for treatment from noir pulp novelist Jim Thompson in the 1950s, but had been lost until Kubrick's death. This project is currently being developed for future release as of 2010 
A number of screenplays remain for which Kubrick was either commissioned or wrote for unsuccessful projects, include The German Lieutenant (co-written with Richard Adams), featuring a group of German soldiers in a mission during the final days of World War II; I Stole 16 Million Dollars, about notorious 1930s bank robber Willie Sutton (the film was to be made by Kirk Douglas' Bryna production company, despite Douglas believing the script was poorly written, and Cary Grant was approached for the lead); and a first draft of a script about the Confederate Mosby Rangers guerilla force in the Civil War.
Kubrick is reported to have been fascinated by the career of Nazi filmmaker Veit Harlan, an uncle of his wife, and to have contemplated a film on the circle around Joseph Goebbels. Although Kubrick worked on it for several years, this never got further than a rough story outline.
Kubrick wanted to make a film based on Umberto Eco's 1988 novel Foucault's Pendulum, but Eco declined because of his dissatisfaction with the filming of his earlier novel The Name of the Rose and Kubrick's unwillingness to allow him to write the screenplay himself; after Kubrick died, Eco would admit he regretted his decision.
Before moving onto 2001, Terry Southern suggested that Kubrick should make a high-budget pornographic film called Blue Movie in an attempt to take the genre and reinvent it. He decided not to do it, believing that he did not have the temperament for pornographic cinema and didn't think he could successfully reinvent the genre enough to truly elevate it. At this time Southern started work on a novel that would not be published until 1970, also entitled Blue Movie, about a highly regarded art film director named Boris Adrian who attempts just such a film (the book is dedicated to Kubrick).
When J.R.R. Tolkien sold the film rights of The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, the Beatles considered making a film of it, and approached Kubrick as a possible director, but Kubrick told John Lennon he thought the novel unfilmable due to its immensity.
Kubrick also toyed with the idea of adapting Perfume by Patrick Süskind, a book he greatly enjoyed, though nothing came of it. It would later be adapted for the screen by Tom Tykwer as Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
Unlike directors such as John Ford, Martin Scorsese, and Akira Kurosawa, Kubrick did not generally reuse actors. However, Kubrick did on several occasions work with the same actor more than once. In lead roles, there was Sterling Hayden in both The Killing and Dr. Strangelove, Peter Sellers in Lolita and Dr. Strangelove, and Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory and Spartacus. In supporting roles, Joe Turkel appears in The Killing, Paths of Glory, and The Shining; Philip Stone appears in A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and The Shining; Leonard Rossiter is featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon; whilst Timothy Carey is in both The Killing and Paths of Glory. A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon saw the largest crossover, with six actors (including Patrick Magee) having roles of various lengths in each film.
One of Kubrick's longest collaborations was with Leon Vitali, who, after playing the older Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon, became Kubrick's personal assistant, working as the casting director on his following films, and supervising film-to-video transfers for Kubrick. He also appeared in Eyes Wide Shut, playing the ominous Red Cloak, who confronts Tom Cruise during the infamous orgy scene. Since Kubrick's death, Vitali has overseen the restoration of both picture and sound elements for most of Kubrick's films. He has also collaborated frequently with Eyes Wide Shut costar Todd Field on his pictures.
Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian has cameos in 2001: A Space Odyssey (as Heywood Floyd's daughter), Barry Lyndon (as a girl at the birthday party for young Bryan Lyndon), The Shining (as a party ghost), and Full Metal Jacket (as a TV reporter). His stepdaughter Katharina has cameos in A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut, and her character's son in the latter is played by her real son. Kubrick's wife Christiane Kubrick appeared prior to her marriage to Kubrick in Paths of Glory, billed as Susanne Christian (her birth name is Christiane Susanne Harlan), and as a cafe guest in Eyes Wide Shut.
Style and trademarks
Kubrick's cinematic style frequently features scenes with long parallel walls.
Stanley Kubrick's films have several trademark characteristics. All but his first two full-length films and 2001 were adapted from existing novels (2001 being based on The Sentinel as well as having its own planned novelization), and he occasionally wrote screenplays in collaboration with writers (usually novelists, but a journalist in the case of Full Metal Jacket) who had limited screenwriting experience. Many of his films had voiceover narration, sometimes taken verbatim from the novel. With or without narration, all of his films contain extensive character's-point-of-view footage. The closing of films with "The End" went out of style with the advent of long closing credits, but Kubrick continued to put it at the end of the credits, long after the rest of the film industry stopped using it. On the other hand, Kubrick occasionally dispensed with opening credits (in Space Odyssey and Clockwork Orange) long before the industry started doing so commonly. His credits are always a slide show. His only rolling credits are the opening credits to The Shining.
Kubrick paid close attention to the releases of his films in other countries. Not only did he have complete control of the dubbing cast; sometimes alternative material was shot for international releases: in The Shining, the text on the typewriter pages was reshot for the countries in which the film was released; in Eyes Wide Shut, the newspaper headlines and paper notes were reshot for different languages. Since Kubrick's death, no new voice translations are allowed to be produced for any of the films he had control of; in countries where no authorized dubs exist, only subtitles are allowed for translation. Kubrick also closely supervised the actual translation of the script into foreign languages.
Beginning with 2001: A Space Odyssey, all of his films except Full Metal Jacket used mostly prerecorded classical music, in two cases electronically altered by Wendy Carlos. He also often used merry-sounding pop music in an ironic way during scenes depicting devastation and destruction, especially in the closing credits or end sequences of a film.
Roger Ebert, among others, has noted the oft-recurring "Kubrick stare."
In his review of Full Metal Jacket, Roger Ebert noted that many Kubrick films have a facial closeup of an unraveling character in which the character's head is tilted down and his eyes are tilted up. Kubrick also extensively employed wide angle shots, character tracking shots, zoom shots, and shots down tall parallel walls.
Many of Kubrick's films have back-references to previous Kubrick films. The best-known examples of this are the appearance of the soundtrack album for 2001: A Space Odyssey appearing in the record store in A Clockwork Orange and Quilty's joke about Spartacus in Lolita. Less obvious is the reference to a painter named Ludovico in Barry Lyndon, Ludovico being the name of the conditioning treatment in A Clockwork Orange.
All Stanley Kubrick movies have a scene in or just outside a bathroom. (Oddly, the most cited example of this in 2001 is Dr. Floyd's becoming stymied by the Zero-Gravity Toilet en route to the moon—almost never David Bowman's exploration [still wearing his spacesuit] of the bathroom adjacent to his celestial bedroom after his journey through the Star Gate.)
Special case of CRM-114
The two actual cases of Kubrick's usage of CRM-114 and the CRM-114 amplifier from the film Back to the Future.
Although Dr. Strangelove employs a device called CRM-114, and A Clockwork Orange has a sound-alike medicine called Serum 114, numerous and oft-repeated claims that the numbers 114 appear in other Kubrick films are apocryphal. CRM-114 is also used in the source novel Red Alert, upon which Dr. Strangelove is based, although claims have been made that the acronym appears in Kubrick's earlier film The Killing. Nonetheless, in a remarkable case of a director's influencing popular culture through an exaggerated urban legend, there is in honor of this Kubrick trademark, an e-mail spam filtering system, a progressive rock band, a right-wing website, a sound amplifier in the film Back to the Future, a catalog code in the TV series Heroes, and a weapon in the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, all named CRM-114, as well as a short film called Serum 114. The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, "Business as Usual", had as guest star actor Steven Berkoff from A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon, and it was directed by regular cast member Alexander Siddig, who is a nephew of Malcolm McDowell, star of A Clockwork Orange.
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There has been a longstanding debate regarding the DVD releases of Kubrick's films; specifically, the aspect ratio of many of the films. The primary point of contention relates to his final five films: A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut.
Kubrick's initial involvement with home video mastering of his films was a result of television screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Because the film was shot in 65 mm, the composition of each shot was compromised by the pan-and-scan method of transferring a wide-screen image to fit a 1.33:1 television set.
Kubrick's final five films were shot "flat"—the full 1.37:1 area is exposed in the camera, but with appropriate markings on the viewfinder, the picture was composed for and cropped to the 1.85:1 aspect ratio in a theater's projector.
The first mastering of these five films was in 2000 as part of the "Stanley Kubrick Collection", consisting of Lolita, Dr. Strangelove (in association with Sony Pictures), 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut. Kubrick oversaw the video masters in 1989 for Warner Home Video, and approved of 1.33:1 transfers for all of the films except for 2001, which was letterboxed.
Kubrick never approved a 1.85:1 video transfer of any of his films; when he died in 1999, DVDs and the 16×9 format were only beginning to become popular in the US, and most people were accustomed to seeing movies fill their television screen; in July 2007, less than 10% of US households had High-definition television (HDTV) (16×9 ready) sets. Warner Home Video chose to release these films with the transfers that Kubrick had explicitly approved.
In 2007, Warner Home Video remastered 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut in High-Definition, releasing the titles on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc. All were released in 16×9 anamorphic transfers, preserving the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratios for all of the flat films except A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut, which were transferred at the aspect ratio of 1.66:1.
In regards to the Warner Bros. titles, there is little studio documentation that is public about them other than instructions given to projectionists on initial release; however, Kubrick's storyboards for The Shining do prove that he composed the film for wide-screen. In instructions given to photographer John Alcott in one panel, Kubrick writes:
THE FRAME IS EXACTLY 1.85-1. Obviously you compose for that but protect the full 1.33-1 area.
More confusion results regarding Kubrick's non-Warner distributed titles. During the days of laserdisc, The Criterion Collection released six Kubrick films. Spartacus and 2001 were both native 70 mm releases (exhibited in their roadshow engagements at a ratio of 2.20:1) at the same ratio as their subsequent DVD releases, and The Killing and Paths of Glory were both transferred at 1.33:1, despite the latter being hard matted extensively. Both pictures were theatrically projected at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Dr. Strangelove and Lolita were also transferred at 1.33:1, although Strangelove exhibits a number of hard mattes at a ratio of 1.66:1 in second-unit footage. This is sometimes falsely attributed to the use of stock footage in Strangelove. Both films were presented theatrically at ratios of 1.85:1.
The DVD versions of The Killing and Paths of Glory released by MGM Home Entertainment retained the same 1.33:1 aspect ratio as the laserdisc versions. The initial DVD releases of Strangelove maintained the 1.33:1, Kubrick-approved transfer, but for the most recent DVD and Blu-ray editions, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment replaced it with a new, digitally remastered anamorphic transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. All DVD releases of Lolita to date have been at a uniform 1.66:1 aspect ratio, and the expectation is that future releases will retain this aspect ratio.
Also of note, laserdisc releases of 2001 were in a slightly flawed aspect ratio. The film was shot in 65 mm, which has a ratio of 2.20:1, but many theaters could only show it in 35 mm reduction prints, which were presented at a ratio of 2.35:1. Thus, the picture was slightly modified for the 35 mm prints. The laserdisc releases maintained the 2.20:1 ratio, but the source material was an already cropped 35 mm print; thus, the edges were slightly cropped and the top and bottom of the image slightly opened up. This seems to have been corrected with the most recent DVD release, which was newly remastered from a 70 mm print.
Kubrick infrequently discussed personal matters in interview, and rarely spoke publicly at all. Over time, the gamut of his public image in the media ranged from a reclusive genius to a megalomaniacal lunatic shut off from the world. Since his death, Kubrick's friends and family have publicly denied both of these stereotypes. It is clear that the director left behind a strong family and a circle of close friends, and many of those who worked for him have spoken in his favor.
Kubrick's Childwickbury Manor in Hertfordshire, England
Kubrick's famous reclusive nature is largely a myth, and may have resulted from his aversion to air travel. Despite once holding a pilot's license, Kubrick had a fear of flying and refused to take airplane trips. As a result, he rarely left England in the last forty years of his life. In addition, Kubrick shunned the Hollywood system and its publicity machine, resulting in little media coverage of him as a personality. Upon purchasing the Childwickbury Manor in Hertfordshire, England, Kubrick set up his life so that family and business were one. He purchased top-of-the-line film editing equipment and owned a number of cameras, which he sometimes used on his own movies. Children and animals would frequently come in and out of the room as he worked on a script or met with an actor. His appearance was not well-known in his later years, to the extent that a British man named Alan Conway successfully impersonated Kubrick in order to meet several well-known actors and get into fancy clubs. Conway is the subject of the film Colour Me Kubrick (2005), written by Kubrick's assistant Anthony Frewin and directed by Brian Cook, Kubrick's First Assistant Director for 25 years.
Despite his aversion to international travel, Kubrick was constantly in contact with family members and business associates, often by telephone, and contacted his collaborators at all hours of the day and night for conversations that lasted from under a minute to several hours. Many of Kubrick's admirers and friends spoke of these telephone conversations with great affection and nostalgia after his death, especially Michael Herr and Steven Spielberg. In his memoir of Kubrick, Herr stated that dozens of people have claimed to have spoken to Kubrick on the day of his death and remarked that "I believe all of them." Kubrick also frequently invited people to his house, ranging from actors to close friends, admired film directors, writers, and intellectuals.
It was little-known by the public during Kubrick's life that he was also an animal lover. He owned many dogs and cats, and showed an extraordinary affection for them. He is reported to have owned dogs his whole life and Kubrick's widow, Christiane, in her book version of Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures, wrote that Kubrick brought his cats onto film sets and editing rooms with him in order to spend more time with them. Matthew Modine remembers Kubrick's being deeply upset when a family of rabbits was accidentally killed during the making of Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick was so beside himself that he canceled shooting for the rest of the day. Philip Kaplan, one of Kubrick's lawyers and friends, told the story that Stanley once canceled, at the last moment, a meeting with him and another lawyer who had flown to London from the United States because he had sat up all night with a dying cat and was in no shape to participate. Also, according to Kaplan, the huge kitchen table at Kubrick's home in Harpenden (Hertfordshire, United Kingdom) was supported by an undulating base with interior spaces, and housed within each curved space was a dog, most of whom were of no recognizable breed, and some not notably friendly to strangers.
Kubrick had a reputation for being tactless and rude to those he worked with. Some of Kubrick's collaborators complained that his personality was cold and that he lacked sympathy for the feelings of other people. Although Kubrick became close friends with Clockwork Orange star Malcolm McDowell during filming, Kubrick abruptly terminated the friendship soon after the film was complete. McDowell was deeply hurt by this, and the schism between the two men lasted until Kubrick's death. Science fiction writer Brian Aldiss was fired from Kubrick's never-completed project A.I. for vacationing with his family in violation of his contract, even though Kubrick had put the project on hold at the time. James Earl Jones, despite his admiration for Kubrick on an artistic level, spoke negatively of his experience on Dr. Strangelove, saying that Kubrick was disrespectful to actors, using them as instruments in a grand design rather than allowing them to be creative artists in their own right. George C. Scott, who admired Kubrick in retrospect for reportedly being one of the few people who could routinely beat him at chess, famously resented Kubrick's using Scott's most over-the-top performances for the final cut of Dr. Strangelove after being promised by Kubrick that they were warmups and would not actually be in the movie. Kubrick's employees and crew members have stated that he was notorious for not complimenting anyone, and rarely showed admiration for his coworkers for fear it would make them complacent. Kubrick complimented them on their work only after the movie was finished, unless he felt their work was "genius." The only actors that Kubrick called "genius" were Peter Sellers, James Mason, and Malcolm McDowell.
Michael Herr, in his otherwise positive memoir of his friendship with Kubrick, complained that Kubrick was extremely cheap and very greedy about money. He stated that Kubrick was a "terrible man to do business with" and that the director was upset until the day he died that Jack Nicholson made more money from The Shining than he did. Kirk Douglas often commented on Kubrick's unwillingness to compromise, his out-of-control ego, and his ruthless determination to make a film his own distinct work of art instead of a group effort. However, Douglas has acknowledged that a large part of his dislike for Kubrick was caused by the director's consistently negative statements about Spartacus.
Many of those who worked with Kubrick have spoken kindly of him since his death, including coworkers and friends Jack Nicholson, Diane Johnson, Tom Cruise, Joe Turkel, Con Pederson, Carl Solomon, Ryan O'Neal, Anthony Frewin, Andrew Birkin, Ian Watson, John Milius, Jocelyn Pook, Sydney Pollack, R. Lee Ermey, and others. Michael Herr's memoir of Kubrick, and Matthew Modine's book Full Metal Jacket Diary show a much kinder, saner, and warmer version of Kubrick than the conventional view of him as cold, demanding, and impersonal. In a series of interviews found on the DVD of Eyes Wide Shut, a teary-eyed Tom Cruise remembers Kubrick with great affection; Nicole Kidman shares his sentiments. Shelley Winters, when asked what she thought of him, answered: "A gift." Shelley Duvall, who played Wendy in The Shining, had a rocky relationship with Kubrick, but said in retrospect that it was a great experience that made her smarter—though she'd never want to do it again. Malcolm McDowell acknowledged in retrospect that some of his statements about Kubrick were "unfair" and were a "cry out" to Kubrick to reconnect with him.
Kubrick's immediate family felt that the common perception of him as a eccentric reclusive misanthrope were entirely off-the-mark stereotypes. His stepdaughter Katharina recalls that her sister Anya once stated that "the more she reads about daddy the more she thinks that Howard Hughes was probably a perfectly normal person." When his widow, Christiane, was asked which books on Kubrick were not reliable, she singled out Frederic Raphael's Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick and John Baxter's Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (not to be confused with the identically titled book by Vincent LoBrutto). The posthumous family production of the documentary and book Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (film documentary directed by Jan Harlan, book tie-in written by Christiane Kubrick née Harlan) was partly intended to offset the negative impressions created by these works.
In his memoir of Kubrick, Michael Herr, his friend and cowriter of the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket, wrote:
Stanley had views on everything, but I would not exactly call them political... His views on democracy were those of most people I know, neither left or right, not exactly brimming with belief, a noble failed experiment along our evolutionary way, brought low by base instincts, money and self-interest and stupidity... He thought the best system might be under a benign despot, though he had little belief that such a man could be found. He wasn't a cynic, but he could have easily passed for one. He was certainly a capitalist. He believed himself to be a realist.
Herr recalls that Kubrick was sometimes akin to a 19th-century liberal-humanist, that he found Irving Kristol's definition of a neoconservative as a "liberal mugged by reality" to be hysterically funny, that he distrusted almost all authority, and that he was a Social Darwinist.
Herr further wrote that Kubrick owned guns and did not think that war was an entirely bad thing. In the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Herr says "…he also accepted that it was perfectly okay to acknowledge that, of all the things war is, it's also very beautiful." The writer said of initial reactions to Full Metal Jacket that "The political left will call Kubrick a fascist." In a 1987 interview with Gene Siskel, called Candidly Kubrick, Kubrick said, "Full Metal Jacket suggests there is more to say about war than it is just bad." He added that everything serious the drill instructor says, such as "A rifle is only a tool, it is a hard heart that kills", is completely true.
Though some have said Kubrick disliked America, Michael Herr says that America was all he talked about and that he often thought of moving back. Herr wrote that Kubrick was sent VHS tapes from American friends of NFL Football, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and other television shows that he could not get in the United Kingdom. Kubrick told Siskel that he was not anti-American and thought that America was a good country, though he did not think that Ronald Reagan was a good President. In the interview, he also predicted an economic meltdown worldwide by pointing out to Siskel that most of the major banks in the United States held dubious foreign bonds as collateral and huge third world loans treated as assets. Kubrick likened this to the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about the "Emperor's New Clothes", and felt even during the Cold War, an economic collapse was more worrisome and imminent than nuclear annihilation was. As far as Kubrick's views on welfarism and taxation, according to Ian Watson, Kubrick said of the pre-1997 socialist Labour Party that "If the Labourites ever get in, I’ll leave the country." Watson claims that Kubrick was extremely opposed to taxes on the rich and to welfare in general.
Kubrick's earlier work is seen by Pauline Kael as more socially liberal than his later work. The early films embody liberal ideals, and the satire of government and military in Dr. Strangelove seems to point to a liberal political perspective. While Kael viewed Dr. Strangelove as a liberal film, Kagan disagrees, holding that film to be written from the point of view of a detached realist, lacking the overt liberalism of similar anti-war films of the era such as On the Beach or Fail-Safe. Kubrick's more mature works are more pessimistic and suspicious of the so-called innate goodness of mankind, and are critical of stances based on that positive assessment. For example, in A Clockwork Orange, the police are as violent and vulgar as the droogs, and Kubrick depicts both the subversive Leftist writer Mr. Alexander and the authoritarian status quo Minister of the Interior as manipulative and sinister. Kubrick commented regarding A Clockwork Orange:
Man isn't a noble savage, he's an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved—that about sums it up. I'm interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it's a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure.
He went on to say:
The idea that social restraints are all bad is based on a utopian and unrealistic vision of man. But in this movie, you have an example of social institutions gone a bit berserk. Obviously, social institutions faced with the law-and-order problem might choose to become grotesquely oppressive. The movie poses two extremes: it shows Alex in his precivilized state, and society committing a worse evil in attempting to cure him."
When New York Times writer Fred M. Hechinger wrote a piece that declared A Clockwork Orange "fascist", Kubrick responded:
It is quite true that my film's view of man is less flattering than the one Rousseau entertained in a similarly allegorical narrative—but, in order to avoid fascism, does one have to view man as a noble savage rather than an ignoble one? Being a pessimist is not yet enough to qualify one to be regarded as a tyrant (I hope)... The age of the alibi, in which we find ourselves, began with the opening sentence of Rousseau's Emile: 'Nature made me happy and good, and if I am otherwise, it is society's fault.' It is based on two misconceptions: that man in his natural state was happy and good, and that primal man had no society... Rousseau's romantic fallacy that it is society which corrupts man, not man who corrupts society, places a flattering gauze between ourselves and reality. This view, to use Mr. Hechinger's frame of reference, is solid box office but, in the end, such a self-inflating illusion leads to despair.
Kubrick quoted extensively from Robert Ardrey, author of African Genesis and The Social Contract—not to be confused with Rousseau's—and author Arthur Koestler, who is famous for writing The Ghost in the Machine. Both authors (Koestler through psychology and Ardrey through anthropology) searched for the cause of humanity's capacity for death and destruction, and both, like Kubrick, were suspicious of the liberal belief in the innate goodness of mankind. Ardrey and Kubrick both attribute this to Rousseau, who, in Ardrey's words, "Fathered the romantic fallacy" and Behaviourism, especially what they consider "radical Behaviourism", which they blame primarily on B. F. Skinner. In his interview with The New York Times, Kubrick stated that his view of man was closer to those of Christianity than to humanism or Jewish theology, saying, "I mean, it's essentially Christian theology anyway, that view of man."
Kubrick appeared to believe that freedom is still worth pursuing even if mankind is ultimately ignoble, and that evil on the part of the individual—however undesirable—is still preferable in contrast to the evil of a totalitarian society. Kubrick said in an interview with Gene Siskel:
To restrain man is not to redeem him... I think the danger is not that authority will collapse, but that, finally, in order to preserve itself, it will become very repressive... Law and order is not a phony issue, not just an excuse for the Right to go further right.
Stanley Kubrick was of Jewish descent, but his family did not practice religion at all. Indeed though his father's real name was Jacob, he went by Jacques or Jack as a move towards American assimilation. When asked by Michel Ciment in an interview if he had a religious upbringing, Kubrick replied: "No, not at all."
Kubrick is often said to have been an atheist. This may or may not be true. In Kubrick's interview with Craig McGregor, he said:
2001 would give a little insight into my metaphysical interests... I'd be very surprised if the universe wasn't full of an intelligence of an order that to us would seem God-like. I find it very exciting to have a semi-logical belief that there's a great deal to the universe we don't understand, and that there is an intelligence of an incredible magnitude outside the Earth. It's something I've become more and more interested in. I find it a very exciting and satisfying hope.
When asked by Eric Nordern in Kubrick's interview with Playboy if 2001: A Space Odyssey was a religious film, Kubrick elaborated:
I will say that the God concept is at the heart of 2001 but not any traditional, anthropomorphic image of God. I don't believe in any of Earth's monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God, once you accept the fact that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, that each star is a life-giving sun and that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe. Given a planet in a stable orbit, not too hot and not too cold, and given a few billion years of chance chemical reactions created by the interaction of a sun's energy on the planet's chemicals, it's fairly certain that life in one form or another will eventually emerge. It's reasonable to assume that there must be, in fact, countless billions of such planets where biological life has arisen, and the odds of some proportion of such life developing intelligence are high. Now, the sun is by no means an old star, and its planets are mere children in cosmic age, so it seems likely that there are billions of planets in the universe not only where intelligent life is on a lower scale than man but other billions where it is approximately equal and others still where it is hundreds of thousands of millions of years in advance of us. When you think of the giant technological strides that man has made in a few millennia—less than a microsecond in the chronology of the universe—can you imagine the evolutionary development that much older life forms have taken? They may have progressed from biological species, which are fragile shells for the mind at best, into immortal machine entities—and then, over innumerable eons, they could emerge from the chrysalis of matter transformed into beings of pure energy and spirit. Their potentialities would be limitless and their intelligence ungraspable by humans.
In the same interview, he also blames the poor critical reaction to 2001 as follows:
Perhaps there is a certain element of the lumpen literati that is so dogmatically atheist and materialist and Earth-bound that it finds the grandeur of space and the myriad mysteries of cosmic intelligence anathema.
In an interview with William Kloman of The New York Times, when asked why there is hardly any dialogue in 2001, Kubrick explained:
I don't have the slightest doubt that to tell a story like this, you couldn't do it with words. There are only 46 minutes of dialogue scenes in the film, and 113 of non-dialogue. There are certain areas of feeling and reality—or unreality or innermost yearning, whatever you want to call it—which are notably inaccessible to words. Music can get into these areas. Painting can get into them. Non-verbal forms of expression can. But words are a terrible straitjacket. It's interesting how many prisoners of that straitjacket resent its being loosened or taken off. There's a side to the human personality that somehow senses that wherever the cosmic truth may lie, it doesn't lie in A, B, C, D. It lies somewhere in the mysterious, unknowable aspects of thought and life and experience. Man has always responded to it. Religion, mythology, allegories—it's always been one of the most responsive chords in man. With rationalism, modern man has tried to eliminate it, and successfully dealt some pretty jarring blows to religion. In a sense, what's happening now in films and in popular music is a reaction to the stifling limitations of rationalism. One wants to break out of the clearly arguable, demonstrable things which really are not very meaningful, or very useful or inspiring, nor does one even sense any enormous truth in them.
Stephen King recalled Kubrick calling him late at night while he was filming The Shining and Kubrick asked him, "Do you believe in God?" King said that he had answered in the affirmative, but has had three different versions of what happened next. One time, he said that Kubrick simply hung up on him. On other occasions, he claimed Kubrick said, "I knew it", and then hung up on him. On yet another occasion, King claimed that Kubrick said, before hanging up, "No, I don't think there is a God." In more recent interviews, King has had yet another version of the "God" story, in which Kubrick calls King and asks him if he thinks ghost stories are optimistic because they all suggest there is life after death. King replies, "What about hell?" There is a pause and Kubrick says, "I do not believe in hell."
Finally, Katharina Kubrick Hobbs was asked by alt.movies.kubrick if Stanley Kubrick believed in God. Here is her response:
Hmm, tricky. I think he believed in something, if you understand my meaning. He was a bit of a fatalist actually, but he was also very superstitious. Truly a mixture of nature and nurture. I don't know exactly what he believed, he probably would have said that no-one can really ever know for sure, and that it would be rather arrogant to assume that one could know. I asked him once after The Shining, if he believed in ghosts. He said that it would be nice if there "were" ghosts, as that would imply that there is something after death. In fact, I think he said, "Gee I hope so."...He did not have a religious funeral service. He's not buried in consecrated ground. We always celebrated Christmas and had huge Christmas trees.
In Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Jack Nicholson recalls that Kubrick said The Shining is an overall optimistic story because "anything that says there's anything after death is ultimately an optimistic story."
Three of Stanley Kubrick's films have had their source material readapted in some fashion: Anthony Burgess's subsequent stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange in 1990, which he hoped would be considered a more definitive adaptation than Kubrick's film; the Stephen King written and produced television miniseries of The Shining, which he hoped would stand as the authorized adaptation; and Adrian Lyne's adaptation of Lolita, which had the blessing of Vladimir Nabokov's son, Dmitri (who echoed his father's moderate misgivings about Kubrick's version). Both Burgess and King overtly stated that they were annoyed by Kubrick's denying their lead characters (Alex DeLarge and Jack Torrance, respectively) a final redemption that was present in the source material, but absent from Kubrick's adaptation.
It must be noted that among other Kubrick film adaptations of the work of living authors, both Arthur C. Clarke and Gustav Hasford (author of the source novel for Full Metal Jacket) were entirely satisfied with how Kubrick adapted their work.
Kubrick made only thirteen feature films in his life. His oeuvre was comparatively low in number, considering the output of his contemporaries such as Ingmar Bergman or Federico Fellini, due to his methodical and meticulous dedication to every aspect of film production. A number of his films are recognized as seminal classics within their genre.
Awards and recognition
Five of Stanley Kubrick's films were nominated for Academy Awards in various categories, including Best Picture for Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon, and Best Director for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon. 2001: A Space Odyssey received numerous technical awards, including a BAFTA award for cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth and an Academy Award for best visual effects, which Kubrick (as director of special effects on the film) received.
Most awards for which Kubrick's films were nominated tended to be in the areas of cinematography, art design, screenwriting, and music. However, only four of his films were nominated for their acting performances, notably Lolita, getting three acting nominations from the Golden Globes, and Peter Sellers getting nominated for both an Oscar and a BAFTA for his triple roles in Doctor Strangelove. Only Spartacus among Kubrick's films actually won an acting award.
All Kubrick films from Paths of Glory to the end of his career were nominated for at least one Golden Globe or Oscar (along with several BAFTA nominations) with the notable exception of The Shining which was actually nominated for the infamous Razzie award. Ironically, at least two published books, The Wolf at the Door by Jay Cocks and Kubrick, inside a film artist's maze by Thomas Nelson, consider The Shining to be a kind of master key to Kubrick's whole body of work in which all of Kubrick's philosophical preoccupations merge into a grand synthesis.
In 1997, three of Kubrick's films were selected by the American Film Institute for their list of the 100 Greatest Movies in America: 2001: A Space Odyssey at #22, Dr. Strangelove at #26 and A Clockwork Orange at #46. In 2007, the AFI updated their list with 2001 ranked at #15, Dr. Strangelove ranked at #39 and Clockwork Orange ranked at #70. In addition, Spartacus was one of the new selections ranking at #81.
Reviews from critics
Many of Kubrick's films initially received lukewarm reviews, only to be decades later be hailed as major and seminal classics. Film critics Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael were consistently highly dismissive of Kubrick, often considering him as impersonal and misanthropic. Writer Mark Browning has noted that critics seem divided between those that consider him "immensely profound" or "just plain pretentious." Initially, Roger Ebert gave a poor review of The Shining which now Ebert has canonized in his series of reviews of great films. It has been argued that this frequent shift in opinion is due to the consistently idiosyncratic and unconventional character of his film-making style, and this also accounts for his enormous influence on the film community. (See the section on "Tributes from filmmakers below".) Ronnie Lankford notes "It is fascinating, when reflecting upon Kubrick, how many times he made a seminal film." which approached subjects in a new way. In the same essay he writes,
..critical opinion has always lagged behind when it came to Kubrick. Look up 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in the average movie guide. Most call it an innovative masterpiece and forget to mention that a number of critics hated the film when it was released. Kubrick’s films have often been groundbreaking, controversial, and misunderstood. But critics who dare to question his artistry usually have to eat their review.
For Kubrick, written dialogue is one element to be put in balance with mise en scène (set arrangements), music, and especially, editing. Inspired by Pudovkin's treatise on film acting, Kubrick realized that one could create a performance in the editing room and often re-direct a film.
As he explained to a journalist,
Everything else [in film] comes from something else. Writing, of course, is writing; acting comes from the theatre; and cinematography comes from photography. Editing is unique to film. You can see something from different points of view almost simultaneously, and it creates a new experience.
Kubrick's method of operating thus became a quest for an emergent vision in the editing room, when all the elements of a film could be assembled. The price of this method, beginning as early as Spartacus (when he first had an ample budget for film stock), was endless exploratory reshooting of scenes that was an exhaustive investigation of all possible variations of a scene.This enabled him to walk into the editing room with copious options. John Baxter has written:
Instead of finding the intellectual spine of a film in the script before starting work, Kubrick felt his way towards the final version of a film by shooting each scene from many angles and demanding scores of takes on each line. Then over months... he arranged and rearranged the tens of thousands of scraps of film to fit a vision that really only began to emerge during editing.
Kubrick also pioneered the use of long takes extended over the course of a picture, such as the extended tricycle riding sequence in The Shining or the long pullback from Alex's face at the beginning of A Clockwork Orange. While not an unknown technique before Kubrick, it became seen in the film community as a Kubrickian trademark.
Tributes from filmmakers, critics and imitators
Leading directors such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott have cited Kubrick as a source of inspiration, and in the case of Spielberg, collaboration. On the DVD of Eyes Wide Shut Steven Spielberg in an interview comments on Kubrick that "nobody could shoot a picture better in history" but that Kubrick "tells a story is antithetical to the way we are accustomed to receiving stories". Writing in the introduction to a recent edition of Michel Ciment's Kubrick, film director Martin Scorsese has noted that most of Kubrick's films were misunderstood and under-appreciated when first released. Then came a dawning recognition that they were masterful works unlike any other films.
Kubrick's inventive and unique use of camera movement and framing has been imitated by other film directors, for instance Jonathan Glazer, whose film Birth and music video The Universal contain many visual references to Kubrick.
On the other hand others, such as the filmmakers of the remodernist film movement, have been critical of Kubrick's work, described by Jesse Richards as "boring and dishonest". Peter Rinaldi in his essay on the Remodernist Film Manifesto for Mungbeing, The Shore as Seen from the Deep Sea, defends the manifesto, writing:
I certainly don't share in my friend's opinion of this man's work, but I actually think this is a hugely important part of the manifesto. A lot of us came to be filmmakers because a particular director's (or a number of directors) work inspired us. A friend of mine calls these inspirational figures his "Giants", which I think is a great word for them because sometimes they are built up so much in our minds that we don't think we, or our work, can ever really reach them and theirs. I think, for the most part, the generation that I grew up in had Kubrick as their Giant. His work has a mystical "perfectionism" that is awe-inspiring at times. This perfectionism is anathema to the Remodernist mentality and for many healthy reasons, this giant (or whatever giant towers over your work) must fall in our minds. We must become the giant.
Kubrick was both a great fan of The Simpsons and in friendly contact with the show's producers. Analysts of the show argue that it contains more references to many films of Stanley Kubrick than any other pop culture phenomenon. References abound not only to 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining but also to Spartacus, Doctor Strangelove, Lolita and Full Metal Jacket. It has been noted that while references to "fantastic fiction" in The Simpsons are copious, "there are two masters of the genre whose impact on The Simpsons supersedes that of all others: Stanley Kubrick and Edgar Allan Poe." Similarly, it has been observed that
...the show's almost obsessive references to the films of Stanley Kubrick...[make it] as if the show's admittance of these films into the show's pantheon of intertextual allusions finally marked their entry into the deepest subconscious level of the global pop cultural mind.
Studies of Kubrick
At least two full-length books on Stanley Kubrick are devoted to frame-by-frame analysis of his visual style: Stanley Kubrick, Director: A Visual Analysis by Alexander Walker, and Stanley Kubrick: Visual Poet 1928–1999 (Basic Film) by Paul Duncan. History professor Geoffrey Cocks notes that Kubrick has what he calls an "open narrative" style that "requires the audience to derive meaning actively rather than being passively instructed, entertained, and manipulated." On the other hand, Cocks believes that Kubrick's preoccupation with sweeping overarching historical themes causes him to frequently sacrifice character development. "His films c
Stanley Kubrick's Timeline
July 26, 1928
Manhattan, NY, USA
May 29, 1948
January 15, 1955
April 6, 1959
March 7, 1999
St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK