Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick

Infobox Actor
name = Stanley Kubrick

imagesize = 300px
caption = Self-Portrait of Kubrick with a Leica III camera, when he worked for "Look" (from the book "Drama and Shadows").
birthdate = July 26, 1928
location = New York City, New York, U.S.
deathdate = Death date and age|1999|3|7|1928|7|26
deathplace = Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England
spouse = Toba Metz (1948–1951) (divorced)
Ruth Sobotka (1954–1957) (divorced)
Christiane Harlan (1958-1999) (his death)
children = Anya Kubrick (b.1959)
Vivian Kubrick (b.1960)
occupation = Film Director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer & editor
yearsactive = 1951 — 1999
academyawards = Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
1968 ""
baftaawards = Best British Film
1964 '
Best Film from any Source
1964 "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
Best Direction
1975 "Barry Lyndon"
Britannia Award
1999 Excellence in Film
Academy Fellowship"'
goldenglobeawards = Best Motion Picture - Drama
1961 "Spartacus"
awards = BSFC Award for Best Director
1987 "Full Metal Jacket"
KCFCC Award for Best Director
1968 "2001: A Space Odyssey"
NBR Award for Best Director
1975 "Barry Lyndon"
NYFCC Award for Best Director
1964 "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
1971 "A Clockwork Orange"
Career Golden Lion
1997 Lifetime Achievement

Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an influential American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He directed a number of highly acclaimed and sometimes controversial films. 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.

Early life

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 (1901–1985) and his wife Gertrude ("née" Perveler; 1903–1985). His sister, Barbara, was born in 1934. Jacques Kubrick, whose parents were of Jewish Austrian origin, was a doctor. At Stanley's birth, the Kubricks lived in an apartment at 2160 Clinton Avenue in The Bronx. [ Stanley Kubrick: A Biography By Vincent Lobrutto - Page 524] ISBN 9780306809064]

Kubrick's father taught him chess at age twelve, and the game remained a life-long obsession. He also bought his son a Graflex camera when he was thirteen years old, 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 1941–1945. He was a poor student with a meager 67 grade average. [ [ The Making of 2001, a Space Odyssey: A Space Odyssey - Page 70] ISBN 9780375755286] 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 official school photographer for a year. In 1946 he briefly attended 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. [ [ Stanley Kubrick: A Biography - Page 32] ISBN 9780786704859] He became an apprentice photographer for "Look" in 1946, and later a full-time staff photographer.

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.

Many early (1945–1950) photographs by Kubrick have been published in the book "Drama and Shadows" (2005, Phaidon Press).

Film career and later life

Early works

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. [ [ Stanley Kubrick By Paul Duncan; - Page 25; 46; 62] ISBN 9783822815922] Although its distributor went out of business that year, Kubrick sold "Day of the Fight" to RKO Pictures for a profit of one hundred dollars. [ [ 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives - Page 84] ISBN 9780740758102] 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). [ [ Students on the Right Way By Holger Thuss - Page 110] ISBN 9783831141296] 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 as part of a festival of short films.

"Fear and Desire"

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. [ [ Stanley Kubrick: A Biography - Page 56] ISBN 9780786704859] At least one copy remained in the hands of a private collector, and the film has subsequently surfaced on VHS and later on DVD.

"Killer's Kiss"

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 1952–1955 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" (1954), 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, and met with limited commercial and critical success. The film is about a young, heavyweight boxer at the end of his career who is involved with organized crime. Both "Fear and Desire" and "Killer's Kiss" were privately funded by Kubrick's family and friends. [ [ Stanley Kubrick:Interviews - Page 190] ] [ [,+chiefly+from+another+relative%22&ei=lTDHSNjXLJX4iQGF4KX3Cw&sig=ACfU3U0h1o9wCQggwPoWoJXBImmwZ1lmhA Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema - Page 127] ISBN 9780934223591] ]

"The Killing"

Alex Singer introduced Kubrick to a young producer named James B. Harris, and the two became close friends. [ [,M1 Stanley Kubrick By John Baxter] ISBN 9780786704859] 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 co-screenwriter Jim Thompson turned into a story about a race track robbery gone wrong. 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 having a non-linear storyline and an unhappy ending. While it was not a financial successful, it received good reviews. [ [ Cinema, A Critical Dictionary, the Major Film-makers - Page 562] ISBN 9780670222575]

The widespread admiration for "The Killing" brought Harris-Kubrick Productions to the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. [ [ The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives] ISBN 9780684806631] 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. [ [ Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze - Page 260] ISBN 9780253213907]

"Paths of Glory"

Kubrick's next film was set during World War I and based on Humphrey Cobb's 1935 anti-war 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 particularly praised the unvarnished combat scenes and the film's raw black and white cinematography.Fact|date=September 2008 Steven Spielberg has named this one of his favorite Kubrick films. [ [ Steven Spielberg Interviews - Page 82] ISBN 9781578061136]

Marriage to Christiane Harlan

During the production of "Paths of Glory" in Munich, Kubrick met and romanced the young German actress Christiane Harlan (credited by her stage name "Susanne Christian"), who played the only woman 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. 1958) and Vivian (b. 1960). Christiane's brother Jan Harlan was Kubrick's executive producer from 1975 onward.


Upon his return to the United States, Kubrick worked for six months on the Marlon Brando vehicle "One-Eyed Jacks" (1961). Brando eventually fired him and decided to direct the picture himself. The two had clashed over a number of casting decisions. [ [ Stanley Kubrick By Vincent Lobrutto - Page 164] ISBN 9780306809064] Kubrick worked on a number of unproduced screenplays [ [ Heartbreak and Vine The Fate of Hardboiled Writers in Hollywood - Page 125] ISBN 9781852426781] 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. [ [,+who+subsequently+disowned+Spartacus%22&ei=ij3HSIT4C5jgiQHTyoyADA&sig=ACfU3U1sdX2668GSWcnxKfCcJv3bUYTCBA Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema - Page 170] ISBN 9780415077590] 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." [ [ The Philosophy of Stanley Kubrick - Page 170] ISBN 9780813124452]

Despite the on-set troubles, "Spartacus" was a major 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." [ [,+film+by+frenzy%22&ei=OT_HSKHDNJykjgGwhZn9Cw&sig=ACfU3U2bDjxdgQwFpocEo2UKgS1Yk1EdQQ#PPA74,M1 Now Dig This By Terry Southern - Page 74] ISBN 9780802138941]

"Spartacus" remains the only Stanley Kubrick film in which Kubrick had no hand in the screenplay, no final cut, no producing credit, nor any hand in the casting. It is largely Kirk Douglas' project.


In 1962, Kubrick moved to England to film "Lolita" and he would reside there for the rest of his life. Unsurprisingly, the film was Kubrick's first major controversy.Fact|date=August 2008 The book, by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, dealt with an affair between a middle-aged man named Humbert Humbert and his twelve-year-old stepdaughter, and was already notorious as an "obscene" novel and a "cause celebre" 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 four-hundred page screenplay which he then reduced to two hundred.Mireia Aragay. page 113. [ Books in motion: adaptation, intertextuality, authorship] . Rodopi, 2005. ISBN 9789042019577] The final screenplay was written by Kubrick himself, and it has been estimated that only 20% of Nabokov's work made it into the final draft. [ [ Stanley Kubrick, a Guide to References and Resources By Wallace Coyle] ] . Nabokov's original draft was later published under the title "Lolita: A Screenplay".

The film faced a serious censorship battle before its release. Kubrick tried to make some elements more acceptable by changing Lolita's age from twelve to fourteen, and omitting all material referring to Humbert's lifelong infatuation with "nymphets". Nonetheless, several scenes in the final film had to be re-edited to satisfy the censors. [ [,M1 Stanley Kubrick: Visual Poet 1928-1999 - Page 80] ISBN 9783822815922] 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.Fact|date=August 2008

"Lolita" was the first of two times Kubrick worked with British comic actor Peter Sellers, one of the most successful collaborations of his early career, particularly in their following film "Dr. Strangelove" (1964). Sellers’ role is the short but memorable and pivotal part of Clare Quilty, a second older man involved with Lolita unbeknownst to Humbert, serving dramatically as Humbert's darker doppelganger. Although in the novel Quilty’s presence is behind-the-scenes and concealed from the reader for most of the story, Kubrick brings him to the foreground resulting in a notable expansion of his role (even then running to only about half an hour’s screentime.) Kubrick adds the dramatic device of Quilty pretending to be multiple characters, allowing Sellers to employ in one scene a German accent similar to his subsequent voice as Dr. Strangelove.

Critical reception of the film was mixed, with many praising 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.

"Dr. Strangelove"

Kubrick's next film, "" (1964), became a cult film and is now considered a classic. The screenplay—based upon the novel "Red Alert", by ex-RAF flight lieutenant Peter George (writing as Peter Bryant)—was co-written 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 American nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, initiated by renegade U.S.A.F. General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) 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 pre-arranged recall code. The film intercuts between three locales,(i) Ripper's air force base, where RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Sellers) tries to stop the mad Gen. Ripper, by obtaining the codes; (ii) the Pentagon War Room, where the U.S. President (Sellers), and U.S.A.F. General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), try to develop a strategy with the Soviets to stop General Ripper's B-52 bombers from dropping nuclear bombs on Russia; and (iii) 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 General 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 should there be a nuclear holocaust are the black comic 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.Fact|date=August 2008 Coincidentally, that same year, Columbia Studios released the dramatic nuclear war thriller "Fail-Safe."

The film prefigured the antiwar sentiments of the later 1960s that would become explosive only a few years after its release. It was highly irreverent to war policies of the US largely considered sacrosanct up till that time. The film earned four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director) and the New York Film Critics' Best Director award.

"2001: A Space Odyssey"

Kubrick spent five years developing his next film, "" (1968). The film was conceived as a Cinerama spectacle and was photographed in Super Panavision 70. Kubrick co-wrote 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."

Enigmatic and sometimes impenetrable, "2001" resists a short synopsis. It 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. 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 the year 2000. At this time a group of Americans at their moonbase have dug up a similar monolith. Geological evidence indicates 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 US 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 HAL9000 computer malfunctions but resists disconnection, believing its control of the mission is 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 spacepod encounters another monolith in orbit around Jupiter whereupon he is hurled into a portal in space at high speed witnessing many astronomical phenomena. His mysterious 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 film was a massive production for its time. The special effects were overseen by Kubrick and engineered by a team that included special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull ("Silent Running", "Blade Runner"). They were considered ground-breaking and inspired many of the special effects-driven films which were to follow the success of "2001".Fact|date=August 2008 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".Fact|date=August 2008. The film also is a rare instance of portraying space travel realistically with complete silence in the vacuum of space and realistic portrayal 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 have become indelibly associated with the film.Fact|date=August 2008 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. [cite web|url=|title=2001: A Space Odyssey - Alex North's unused Soundtrack||accessdate=2007-12-24]

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, its slow pacing, and seemingly impenetrable storyline. The film's only initial defender was Penelope Gilliatt,Fact|date=August 2008 who called it "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".

Artistically, "2001: A Space Odyssey" 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 or 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: [cite web|url=|title=What did Kubrick say is the plot of 2001?]

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 likely Kubrick's most famous and influential film. Steven Spielberg called it his generation's big bang,Fact|date=August 2008 focusing its attention upon the Soviet-American space race. The special effects techniques Kubrick pioneered were later developed by Ridley Scott and George Lucas for films such as "Alien" and "".Fact|date=August 2008

"A Clockwork Orange"

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 which 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 story takes place in a futuristic version of Great Britain. The country has embraced socialism and exhibits many ties to Russian culture. Society is becoming more chaotic and a groundswell of resentment is developing in the population.

The film is the story of a teenage hooligan named Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), who 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 which inhibits his violent tendencies though he has no real free moral choice. After being freed, he 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 several months before. Alex then becomes a pawn in a political game.

Kubrick photographed "A Clockwork Orange" quickly and almost entirely on location in and around London. Despite the low-tech nature of the film compared to "2001: A Space Odyssey", Kubrick showed his talent for innovation: at one point, he threw an Arriflex 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.

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."

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 France just across the channel.

In the mid-90s, a documentary about the censorship controversy was released in England entitled "Forbidden Fruit". Kubrick was unable to prevent the documentary makers from including footage from A Clockwork Orange in their film.

"Barry Lyndon"

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 an 18th century gambler and social climber who slowly insinuates himself into English high society.

Some critics, especially Pauline Kael, one of Kubrick's greatest detractors, 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 US, 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".Fact|date=June 2008

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 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 painting.

Like its two predecessors, the film does not have an original score. Irish traditional songs (performed by The Chieftains), are combined with works by Antonio Vivaldi's Cello Concerto in B, a Johann Sebastian Bach Double Concerto, George Frideric Handel's "Sarabande", 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 Shining"

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 demands 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 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 (ca. 1.3 million film ft. were exposed). 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 mini-series version of the novel 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 "Halloween" (1978). Some of its images, such as an antique elevator disgorging a tidal wave 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.

"Full Metal Jacket"

It was seven years until 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 Gene Siskel that his attraction to Gustav Hasford's book was because it was "neither anti-war or pro-war", 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.A., where Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman relentlessly pushes his recruits through basic training in order to transform them from worthless "maggots" into Marine killers. Private Lawrence, an overweight, slow-witted recruit whom Hartman 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.

The second half of the film follows Joker, since promoted to sergeant, as he tries to stay sane in Vietnam. As a reporter for the United States Military's newspaper the "Stars and Stripes", Joker occupies war's middle ground, using wit and sarcasm to detach himself from the carnage around him. Though an American and a member of the United States Marine Corps, he also is a reporter and so is 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 where shot in the 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 perceived as jungle warfare.

"Full Metal Jacket" received mixed critical reviews, but also found a reasonably large audience, despite being over-shadowed by Oliver Stone's "Platoon".

"Eyes Wide Shut"

Stanley Kubrick was a mute presence in Hollywood over the decade that followed the release of "Full Metal Jacket" (1987). Rumours surfaced about possible new Kubrick projects, including "Aryan Papers" and "" (eventually directed by Steven Spielberg after Kubrick's death). Kubrick's final film, however, was to be "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 ported from Berlin 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 when she confesses to having fantasized about giving him, and their daughter, up for one night with another man. Until then, Harford has presumed women are more naturally faithful than men. This new revelation generates doubt and despair in him, 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, he discovers his wife has had a dream about making love to several men at once concerning which she has conflicted feelings. After his own dangerous escapades, Dr. Harford has no high moral ground over her. The couple then 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 set in New York City, the film was mostly shot on London soundstages, with little location shooting. Shots of Manhattan itself were pick-up 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 much exaggerated speculation; some journalists writing that it would be "the sexiest film ever made." The casting of the celebrity-actor couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman increased the magnitude of pre-release 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. It was done to secure an "R" rating from the MPAA. To 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, the lead actor and actress, and Warner Brothers executives, the seventy-year-old director died of a heart attack in his sleep. He was buried next to his favorite tree in Childwickbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England, U.K. [cite news |author=Stephen Holden|title= Stanley Kubrick, Film Director With a Bleak Vision, Dies at 70 |url=|publisher=New York Times |date=March 8, 1999 |accessdate=2007-07-21:

Stanley Kubrick, the famously reclusive director of such classic films as "Dr. Strangelove," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange," died yesterday at his home in England, his family said. He was 70. The police were summoned to Mr. Kubrick's rural home in Hertfordshire, north of London, where he was pronounced dead yesterday afternoon. "There are no suspicious circumstances," a police spokesman said. Kubrick's family announced his death and said there would be no further comment.

Abandoned projects completed by others

Stanley Kubrick worked on two projects eventually completed by other directors. On "One-Eyed Jacks" he was hired from the outside, as had been the case with "Spartacus". The film "A.I." was completed after his death by Steven Spielberg.

"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 may direct.

Later that same 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, who nonetheless deeply disapproved of the studio re-edit of the film. It remains the only film Brando ever directed.

"A.I.: Artificial Intelligence"

One Kubrick project was eventually completed by another director, Steven Spielberg. Throughout the 1980s and early 90s, Kubrick collaborated with various writers (including Brian Aldiss, Sara Maitland and Ian Watson) on a project called by various names, including "Pinocchio" and "Artificial Intelligence."

The film was developed expanding on Aldiss' short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long", which Kubrick and his writers turned into a feature-length film in three acts. It was a futuristic fairy tale about a robot which resembles and behaves as a child, who is sold as a temporary surrogate to a family whose only son is in a coma. The robot, however, learns of this, and out of sympathy is left abandoned in the woods by his owners instead of being returned to the factory for destruction. The rest of the story concerns the robot's attempts in becoming a real boy by seeking “Blue Fairy” (a reference to Pinocchio), in order to regain his mother's love and acceptance once more, as his love was hard-wired into him, and hence everlasting. The journey would take the boy-robot (referred to as a "Mecha" ) thousands of years.

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 2001, 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 "," starring Haley Joel Osment, Frances O'Connor, and William Hurt.

The film contains a posthumous producing credit for Stanley Kubrick at the beginning, and the brief dedication "For Stanley" 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.

Unrealised projects

An exacting perfectionist who often worked for years on pre-production planning and research, Kubrick had a number of unrealised projects during his career.


After the success of "2001" Kubrick planned a large-scale biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte. He did much research, read books about the French Emperor, and wrote a preliminary screenplay. 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 historical places where Napoleon's life occurred.

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 three reasons: (i) the prohibitive costliness of location filming; (ii) the release, in the West, of Sergei Bondarchuk's epic film version of Leo Tolstoy's novel "War and Peace" (1968), and (iii) the commercial failure of Bondarchuk's Napoleon-themed film "Waterloo" (1970). Stanley Kubrick's screenplay for this film has been published on the Internet. Much of his historical research would influence "Barry Lyndon" (1975), set in the late eighteenth century, just before Napoleon's wars.

The film was originally to star Jack Nicholson as Napoleon after Kubrick saw him in "Easy Rider". Kubrick and Nicholson eventually worked together on "The Shining". 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. He was convinced that a film worthy of the subject had not yet appeared.

"Aryan Papers"

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 mother in hiding during the Holocaust. The first draft screenplay, titled "Aryan Papers", had been penned by Kubrick himself. 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. []

Kubrick is also reported to have been fascinated by the career of Nazi film maker Veit Harlan, an uncle of his wife, and to have contemplated a film on the circle around Joseph Goebbels. [Joan Dupont [ "Kubrick Speaks, Through Family's Documentary"] , "International Herald Tribune", September 15, 2001. Retrieved on May 8, 2008.]

"Lunatic at Large"

On November 1, 2006, Philip Hobbs, Kubrick's son-in-law, announced that he will 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 become lost until Kubrick's death in 1999. [cite web|url=|title=New "Kubrick Film" To Be Made]

"The German Lieutenant"

A screenplay attributed to Kubrick and one Richard Adams called "The German Lieutenant" can be found online. [cite web|url= |title=The Untitled Dead Pool Column] It is about a German group of soldiers sent on a mission during the final days of World War II, despite odds being against Nazi-Germany at the time.

"The Spy Who Loved Me"

In 1976 Kubrick agreed 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 prepped 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 2000, when the fact was mentioned in the documentary on the making of "The Spy Who Loved Me" on the special edition DVD of the 007 movie.

Frequent collaborators

Compared to directors like John Ford, Martin Scorsese and Akira Kurosawa, Kubrick was not known for his reuse of 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", Patrick Magee appears in "A Clockwork Orange" and "Barry Lyndon", Timothy Carey in both "The Killing" and "Paths of Glory". "A Clockwork Orange" and "Barry Lyndon" saw the largest crossover with six actors having roles of various lengths in each film.

Family cameos

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 Katherina 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".

Later versions of source material for Kubrick films

Three of Stanley Kubrick's films have had their source material re-adapted in some fashion, in two cases with the source's author writing the new version hoping it will stand as the authorized adaptation in contrast to the Kubrick version. In the third case, the source author's son gave a blessing to the new version. Anthony Burgess did a subsequent stage adaptation of "A Clockwork Orange" in 1990 which he hoped would be considered a more definitive adaptation than Kubrick's film. [] Stephen King wrote and produced a television mini-series of "The Shining" broadcast over 3 nights in 1997 that was motivated largely by King's desire to see a more faithful adaptation of the book than that made by Kubrick. Finally, Vladimir Nabokov's son, Dmitri, gave his blessing to the Adrian Lyne film of "Lolita", while echoing his father's moderate misgivings about the Kubrick version. [] [] Both Burgess and King overtly stated that they were annoyed by Kubrick denying their lead character (Alex DeLarge and Jack Torrance respectively) a final redemption that was present in the source material but absent from Kubrick's adaptation. This is arguably also a difference between Kubrick's version of "Lolita" on the one hand and both the novel and Lyne film on the other, though this was never mentioned by Dmitri Nabokov.

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.


Stanley Kubrick's film have several trademark characteristics. All but his first two full-length films and "2001" were adapted from existing novels ("2001" having a 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. [Terry Southern for "Doctor Strangelove", Arthur C. Clarke for "2001", and Diane Johnson for "The Shining"] Many of his films had voice-over narration sometimes taken verbatim from the novel. With or without narration, all of his films contain extensive character 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. His credits are always a slide-show. His only rolling credits are the opening credits to The Shining.

Beginning with "2001: A Space Odyssey" all of his films except "Full Metal Jacket" used mostly pre-recorded classical music, in two cases electronically altered by Wendy Carlos. ["A Clockwork Orange" and "The Shining". CO's Walter Carlos and Shining's Wendy Carlos are one and the same.] 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. [The closing scenes or credits of "Doctor Strangelove", "A Clockwork Orange", "The Shining", and "Full Metal Jacket" all employ jolly music in an ironic way in their closing credits or final scenes. However, although the closing scenes of "Jacket" have the soldiers singing the Mickey Mouse song, the closing credits use the Rolling Stones song "Paint it Black"]

In his review of "Full Metal Jacket", Roger Ebert [] noted that many Kubrick films have a facial close-up of a character unravelling in which the character's head is tilted down and his eyes tilted up. Kubrick also extensively employed wide angle shots, character tracking shots, zoom shots, and shots down tall parallel walls.

All Stanley Kubrick movies have a scene in or just outside a bathroom.

;Special case of CRM-114

Although "Doctor Strangelove" employs a device called CRM114, and "A Clockwork Orange" has a medicine called Serum 114, numerous and often-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 "Doctor Strangelove" is based, which should make anyone suspicious of claims that the numbers appeared in Kubrick's earlier film "The Killing".) Nonetheless, in honor of this alleged Kubrick trademark there is 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 "" all named CRM114, and a short film called "Serum 114". The "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode in question ["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 MacDowell, star of "A Clockwork Orange".

This is an unusual case of a director having a influence on popular culture on the basis of a half-true but exagerated urban legend.


Kubrick made only thirteen feature films in his life. His oeuvre was comparatively low in number, considering the output of his contemporaries such as John Ford or Federico Fellini, due to his methodical dedication to every aspect of film production. As a result, his craft was exceedingly impeccable and a number of his films are recognized as classics in terms of both form and content. "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. Five of his films were nominated for Academy Awards in various categories, including Best Picture for "Dr. Strangelove", "A Clockwork Orange", "Barry Lyndon", and Best Director for "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Dr. Strangelove", "A Clockwork Orange", and "Barry Lyndon". Such notable, contemporary directors as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott have cited Kubrick as a source of inspiration, and in the case of Spielberg, collaboration. Kubrick's inventive and unique use of camera movement and framing has often been repeated by other film directors, for instance Jonathan Glazer, who also employed several of Kubrick's veteran actors in his film Birth.

For Kubrick, written dialogue is one filmic element to be put in balance with mise-en-scene (sets and acting and lighting), 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--not because actors necessarily failed to hit certain thespian marks, but because Kubrick wanted to investigate all the possible variations of a scene. This exhaustive approach enabled him to walk into the editing room with a copia of options. For Kubrick, editing was an intellectual as well as an intuitive process.


Kubrick was often unwilling to discuss personal matters publicly, or to speak publicly at all. Over time, his image in the media ranged anywhere from being a reclusive genius to being 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 famous reclusiveness is largely a myth, and may have resulted from his aversion to air travel. Despite once holding a pilot's license, Kubrick was afraid 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 all of his own cameras. 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 which 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 during his life that Kubrick was also an animal lover. He owned many dogs and cats and showed an extraordinary affection for them. Kubrick's widow, Christiane, in her book version of "Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures" wrote that Kubrick brought his cats on to film sets and editing rooms with him in order to spend more time with them. Matthew Modine remembers Kubrick 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 a meeting at the last moment 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 St. Albans was supported by an undulating base and that within each curved space was a dog, most 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 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 "AI" 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 in chess, famously resented Kubrick using his most over-the-top performances for the final cut of "Dr. Strangelove," after promising they would not be seen by audiences. Kubrick's employees and crew members have stated that he was notorious for not complimenting anyone and rarely showed admiration for his co-workers 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 co-workers and friends Jack Nicholson, Diane Johnson, Tom Cruise, Joe Turkel, Con Pederson, Sterling Hayden, ] , Carl Solomon, Ryan O'Neal, Anthony Frewin, 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 more kind, sane and warm 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.


In his memoir of Kubrick, Michael Herr, his friend and co-writer 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 "", Herr says "… he also accepted that it was perfectly ok to acknowledge that, of all the things war is, its also very beautiful." The writer said of initial reactions to "Full Metal Jacket" that "The political left will call Kubrick a fascist." [cite news|url=|title=Stanley Kubrick, at a Distance|author=Lloyd Rose|date=June 28, 1987] In his 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 pro-football, "Seinfeld", "The Simpsons" and other television shows which 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. 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. [cite journal|url=|title=Plumbing Stanley Kubrick|author=Ian Watson |date=2000|journal=The New York Review of Science Fiction]

Kubrick's earlier work can be seen as more liberal than his later work. Colonel Dax in Paths of Glory and Spartacus embody liberal ideals, and the satire of government and military in Dr. Strangelove seems to point to a liberal political perspective. 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 to the "New York Times" 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 pre-civilized state, and society committing a worse evil in attempting to cure him."

When New York Times writer Fred M. Hechinger wrote a piece which declared "A Clockwork Orange" "fascist", Kubrick wrote a letter in response:

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 "": '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.

In his letter, 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 phoney issue, not just an excuse for the Right to go further right.


Stanley Kubrick was born Jewish, but never much practiced this religion, as his parents were not very religious either. When asked by Michel Ciment in an interview if he had a religious upbringing, Kubrick replied: "No, not at all." [cite web|url=|title=Kubrick on The Shining - An interview with Michel Ciment|accessdate=2007-12-24]

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: [cite web|url=|title=The Hechinger Debacle|accessdate=2007-12-24]

"2001" would give a little insight into my metaphysical interests", he explains. "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:cite web|url=|title=What did Kubrick have to say about what 2001 "means"?|accessdate=2007-12-24]

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, "Yes", 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: [cite newsgroup|url=|title=Re: Questions for KCKH|author=Katharina Kubrick Hobbs|date=2000-07-14||newsgroup=alt.movies.kubrick]

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."

Aspect ratio

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". All five films were projected theatrically with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The DVD for "A Clockwork Orange" has an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 as does "Barry Lyndon"; the initial DVD releases of the remaining three films are 1.33:1 ("fullscreen").

Kubrick was very upset about television screenings of "2001: A Space Odyssey". Because the film was shot in single-film Cinerama (actually Super Panavision 70), it was one of the few times Kubrick used a widescreen ratio (originally 2.2:1 [70mm] , modified to 2.35:1 [35mm] ); for television, the distributor created a pan-and-scan transfer at 1.33:1, compromising many of the images Kubrick had meticulously created. Following this, he decided to shoot all of his films open-matte (the full 1.33:1 frame is exposed on the actual film, but, when projected, this image is matted to 1.85:1). Kubrick never approved a 1.85:1 video transfer of any of his films; when he died in 1999, DVD was only beginning to catch on strongly in the U.S., and most people were still used to seeing movies fill their television screen. Warner Home Video chose to release these films with the transfers which Kubrick had explicitly approved. Subsequent to that, some evidence has been brought out which suggests that Kubrick (along with his directors of photography) did, in fact, compose shots for 1.85:1 (though the evidence is strongest for "The Shining", people extrapolate and apply it to all of them). The most recent special edition versions (released on October 23, 2007) of "The Shining", "Full Metal Jacket" and "Eyes Wide Shut" are in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and "A Clockwork Orange" has a new, digitally remastered anamorphic transfer with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The previous HD DVD and Blu-ray versions of "Full Metal Jacket" are presented in 1.78:1.

There is a secondary concern related to aspect ratio. During the days of laserdisc, The Criterion Collection released six Kubrick films. "Spartacus" and "2001" were both widescreen (2.35:1 and 2.2:1, respectively) at the same ratio as their subsequent DVD releases, and "The Killing" and "Paths of Glory" were both fullscreen (1.33:1), as these films were released when projectors could still show 1.33:1 (although they were also projected in 1.66:1). "Dr. Strangelove" and "Lolita", though, were given very atypical aspect ratios, in transfers personally overseen by Kubrick. For unspecified reasons, Kubrick chose to give both films an alternating aspect ratio; at times, the image is 1.33:1, while at other times, the image is 1.66:1. This is sometimes falsely attributed to the use of stock footage in "Strangelove" (another, similar claim is that the transfer was done at 1.33:1, but some shots had already been "hard-matted" to 1.66:1 -- that is, shot in a 1.33:1 ratio with a matte covering a portion of the lens, permanently matting the film to that ratio). The initial DVD releases of "Strangelove" maintained this approved transfer, but for the most recent two-disc special edition, 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 for 70mm, with an approximate ratio of 2.2:1, but many theaters could only show it in 35mm, which is 2.35:1. Thus, the picture was slightly modified for the 35mm prints. The laserdisc releases maintained the 2.2:1 ratio, but applied it to a 35mm print; thus, the edges were slightly cropped, and the top and bottom of the image slightly opened up. This seems to have finally been corrected with the most recent DVD release, which was newly remastered from a 70mm print.

In debates over Kubrick's original intent, he is frequently quoted as saying that he likes/prefers height to width. However, without context, it is unclear whether he made this statement regarding 1.85:1 vs. 1.33:1 or 2.35:1 vs. 1.85:1. The latter would certainly be possible, given that many filmmakers contemporary to Kubrick used 2.35:1 as a default aspect ratio, whereas Kubrick only used it once, at the studio's insistence on "Spartacus" (though coming very close on "2001").


;Documentary short films
* "Day of the Fight" (1951)
* "Flying Padre" (1951)
* "The Seafarers" (1953)

;Feature films

ee also

* Stanley Kubrick Archive at [ University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre] .



Further reading

* cite journal
author=Bernstein, Jeremy
title=A Day in the Life of Stanley Kubrick
journal=The New Yorker
year=November 1966

* Lobrutto, Vincent. Stanley Kubrick: A Biography. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1997.
* Lyons, V and Fitzgerald, M. (2005) ‘’Asperger syndrome : a gift or a curse?’’ New York : Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1-59454-387-9
* Deutsches Filmmuseum (Ed.): Stanley Kubrick ; Kinematograph Nr. 14, Frankfurt/Main, 2004. ISBN 3-88799-069-2 (English edition)


* "". Documentary film. Dir. Jan Harlan. Warner Home Video, 2001. 142 min.

External links

*worldcat id|id=lccn-n50-47956
* [ Stanley Kubrick Archive] at the London College of Communication
* [ The Authorized Stanley Kubrick Web Site by Warner Bros.]
* [ Stanley Kubrick: The Master Filmmaker]
* [ The Kubrick Site]
* [ Kubrick Multimedia Film Guide]
* [ Kubrick on Senses of Cinema (In Depth Biography)]
* [ Multi-media Kubrick archive]
* The Guardian: [,4120,1177734,00.html Citizen Kubrick]
* [ List of interviews and Look photographs]
* [ List of all the published Look photographs]
* [ Kubrick on The Shining, "An interview with Michel Ciment"]
* [ The Hechinger Debacle]


NAME=Kubrick, Stanley
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American film director
DATE OF BIRTH=July 26, 1928
PLACE OF BIRTH=Manhattan, New York City, United States
DATE OF DEATH=March 7, 1999
PLACE OF DEATH=Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England, U.K.

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