Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was an American filmmaker. He is famous for such films as “2001”, “Dr Strangelove”, “Lolita”, “The Shining” and “Spartacus”. His films succeeded both as art and as moneymakers.
As a film director he was tireless and wanted everything to be perfect, driving his actors and his wives to their wit’s end.
As a boy in New York he was obviously bright but he did not do well at school. To help him, his father got him interested first in chess and then, when Kubrick turned 13, he gave him a camera of his own, which he loved. Kubrick still did not do well at school and he never went on to university.
Instead the cinema became his university. By day he worked taking pictures for Look magazine and by night he watched nearly every film that came out in New York. This was when he read Pudovkin’s “Film Technique”. These three things taught him how to make a film.
His first film that got any notice was “Fear and Desire” (1953). It ruined his marriage and got mixed reviews, but the film clearly showed his promise.
During the 1950s he slowly gained the attention of Hollywood and got the chance to direct films. Proving his ability, he was given yet more important films to direct until finally he directed “Spartacus” (1960).
It turned out to be his greatest Hollywood film ever because by the time he finished it he had lost all faith in Hollywood. So he moved to Britain where he had more freedom. The first film he directed there was “Lolita” (1962), taken from that book by Nabokov.
With his next film, “Dr Strangelove” (1964), he finally made enough money to become free to do the films he really wanted to do in the way he wanted to do them. He often had several films in the making at any one time, but some he abandoned, such as “Napoleon” and “Lies of the Time of War,” a film about when Hitler killed the Jews.
Many of his films come from books from such writers as Thackeray, Nabokov, Arthur C Clarke, Stephen King and Anthony Burgess. Yet Kubrick saw film as being more like music than fiction: a series of emotions whose meaning only becomes obvious later.
How you can tell you are watching a Kubrick film:
- Long, high, parallel walls
- The number 114
- A close-up of a face twisted by emotion
- A view of the action that seems separated from the emotions of the actors
- The rational order of man falling apart into madness and blood
- The camera slowly moving away or towards the action
- Bathrooms (“Here’s Johnny!”)
Films by others that Kubrick liked:
- I Vitelloni
- Wild Strawberries
- Citizen Kane
- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- City Lights
- La Notte
- The Bank Dick
- Roxie Hart
His own films:
- 1950: Flying Padre
- 1951: Day of the Fight
- 1953: Fear and Desire
- 1953: The Seafarers
- 1955: Killer’s Kiss
- 1956: The Killing
- 1957: Paths of Glory
- 1960: Spartacus
- 1962: Lolita
- 1964: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
- 1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 1971: A Clockwork Orange
- 1975: Barry Lyndon
- 1980: The Shining
- 1987: Full Metal Jacket
- 1999: Eyes Wide Shut