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Stanley Kubrick

The Pocket Essential Guide

Stanley Kubrick by Paul Duncan
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The Pocket Essential Stanley Kubrick by Paul Duncan "The grandmaster of filmmaking" Stephen Spielberg Kubrick Lives! As soon as news came in that Stanley Kubrick had died in his sleep, everyone was there to praise him. He was a grandmaster, a titan, the last of the great old-time directors. This is true, but it makes him sound as though he was behind the times which, when you watch his films, is obviously not the case. Kubrick’s work, like all masterpieces, have a timeless quality. His vision is so complete, the detail so meticulous, that you believe you are in the three-dimensional space displayed on a two-dimensional screen. Kubrick may be dead, but his films live. Kubrick was one of those rare directors who was both commercial AND artistic. This is because he was not afraid to embrace traditional genres (War, Crime, Sex, SF, Horror, Love) and, at the same time, stretch the boundaries of film with controversial themes: underage sex in Lolita; ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange; erotica in Eyes Wide Shut. What’s in it? As well as an introductory essay, each of Kubrick’s films is reviewed and analysed, including his last film, the sexually-explicit and controversial Eyes Wide Shut. This is the first time ALL Kubrick’s films have been featured in one book. An exciting new series of Info Books. Pocket Essentials is a new series for the MTV generation brought up in the three-minute culture. Short, snappy text. Easy to read. Rivetting. Enthusiastic. Fresh. Critical. Packed with facts, backed up with opinion, crammed with information, this is the first step into the world of films and books. This series will spotlight film directors. Paul Duncan is co-founder of Crime Time magazine, edited The Third Degree:Crime Writers In Conversation (available from No Exit), and has written a biography of Gerald Kersh and the Pocket Essential Alfred Hitchcock.
Pocket Essentials; Read online
Title: Stanley Kubrick
Author: Paul Duncan
I was walking around a Robert Capa exhibition recently. Capa was a war photographer who made his name with stunning pictures of the Spanish Civil War and became one of the founders of the world-famous Magnum photo agency. His name came back into circulation when his blurred pictures of the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach were the inspiration for the filming style of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. The reason I mention Capa is that as I stood in front of the photos - whether it was Matisse bent at 90 degrees drawing giant sketches with a long stick, or Chinese children frantically involved in a snowball fight amidst the Japanese invasion, or the grieving widows of Italian fighters, or American GIs talking to English kids - they were so perfectly framed and realised, that I was there, and it was happening to me. They were no longer images - they were experiences. In our daily lives, we are constantly surrounded by diverse images. Where once the written word was king, now images have taken their place. The spoken word is subservient to a series of moving images. But the power of the image has been diluted from overuse. Here, then, is Stanley Kubrick, who started as a photographer for Look magazine (straight from school, aged 17), who told stories through his images, who meticulously collected images for his movies, so that when that image moves, it moves from one perfectly framed and realised image to another. It was always difficult to predict the subjects of Kubrick’s films. He straddled genres like a colossus. Kubrick directed four anti-war films Fear And Desire (1953), Paths Of Glory (1957), Dr Strangelove (1964) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). Fear And Desire, which Kubrick produced, edited and served as director of photography, was made for only $10,000 and is little-seen today, mainly because there is only one known print in existence and it’s in private hands. Supposed to be badly made and pretentious, it’s probably just as well. Paths Of Glory, starring Kirk Douglas, is gut-wrenching - based on a true incident, it shows how soldiers are unjustly killed by their superiors because of ambition, pride and snobbery. Many regard this as Kubrick’s best. Dr Strangelove is a unique depiction of the madness of war. It is a cold war black comedy that everybody took seriously. Full Metal Jacket shows soldiers being stripped of their humanity and then being put in a situation where they have to kill. Some can do it, some can’t. Early on, there were a couple of crime films: Killer’s Kiss (1955) and The Killing (1956). The former has some bad acting bolstered with some great directing. The latter was Kubrick’s breakthrough movie. Famed for its racetrack robbery depicted in fractured time, people credit Kubrick with the technique when, in fact, it is in Lionel White’s source novel Clean Break. It is a great crime movie about the fallibility of man. After some writing on One-Eyed Jacks, eventually directed by Marlon Brando, Kubrick took over from Anthony Mann on Spartacus (1960). At the time it was the most expensive film ever made and won Kubrick many admirers because of the stunning photography perfectly combined with intimate acting. I rushed to my local multiplex when it was re-released and was knocked out seeing the movie on the big screen - pity I was the only one there. For all the plaudits, it was Kubrick’s worst film experience and he decided never to do a Hollywood film again. Kubrick’s roots were as an independent film-maker, and he continued with that attitude throughout the rest of his career. And then, there were some decidedly different approaches to cinema. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is visual poetry. It is full of optimism, showing how man has used tools to extend his physical reach, but needs a little help to advance onto the next stage of evolution. A Clockwork Orange (1971) uses a futuristic setting to explore attitudes to violence, and who takes responsibility for it. The Shining (1980) uses the horror genre to explore the creative urge subsumed by sloth and other pleasures of the flesh.

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