Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Stanley Kubrick (PART ONE)

SAmerican film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, and photographer Stanley Kubrick was born July 26, 1928 at Lying-In Hospital at 307 Second Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, to a Jewish family. Kubrick began schooling in Public School 3 in the Bronx, and moved to Public School 90 in June 1938. He was interested in literature from a young age, and began reading Greek and Roman myths and the fables of the Grimm brothers which “instilled in him a lifelong affinity with Europe”He spent most Saturdays during the summer watching the New York Yankees. When Kubrick was 12, his father Jack taught him chess. The game remained a lifelong interest of Kubrick’s and he became a member of the United States Chess Federation, explained that chess helped him develop “patience and discipline” in making decisions, At the age of 13, Kubrick’s father bought him a Graflex camera, triggering a fascination with still photography. He befriended a neighbor, Marvin Traub, who shared his passion for photography and had his own darkroom, where the young Kubrick and he would spend many hours perusing photographs and watching the chemicals “magically make images on photographic paper”. They searched for interesting subjects to capture, and spent time in local cinemas studying films. Freelance photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) had a considerable influence on Kubrick’s development as a photographer. Kubrick was also interested in jazz, and briefly attempted a career as a drummer.

Between 1941 and 1945 Kubrick attended William Howard Taft High School where he joined the school’s photographic club, which permitted him to photograph the school’s events in their magazine. Kubrick often skipped school to watch double-feature films. While still in high school, Kubrick was chosen as an official school photographer for a year. In the mid-1940s, since he was not able to gain admission to day session classes at colleges, he briefly attended evening classes at the City College of New York Eventually, he sold a photographic series to Look magazine, Which was printed in 1945. Kubrick also supplemented his income by playing chess “for quarters” in Washington Square Park and various Manhattan chess clubs. He graduated in 1945. In 1946, he became an apprentice photographer for Look and later a full-time staff photographer. alongside G. Warren Schloat, Jr., another new photographer. Kubrick became known for his story-telling in photographs. His first, was entitled “A Short Story from a Movie Balcony” and staged a fracas between a man and a woman, during which the man is slapped in the face, caught genuinely by surprise. In another assignment, 18 pictures were taken of various people waiting in a dental office.

In1948, he was sent to Portugal to document a travel piece, and covered the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Sarasota, Florida Kubrick, a boxing enthusiast, eventually began photographing boxing matches for the magazine. His earliest, “Prizefighter”, was published in 1949, and featured Walter Cartier. he also published a photo essay, named “Chicago-City of Extremes” in Look, which displayed his talent early on for creating atmosphere with imagery. including a photograph taken above a congested Chicago street at night. In 1950 the magazine published his photo essay, “Working Debutante – Betsy von Furstenberg”, which featured a Pablo Picasso portrait of Angel F. de Soto in the background. Kubrick was also assigned to photograph numerous musicians, including Frank Sinatra , Erroll Garner, George Lewis, Eddie Condon, Phil Napoleon, Papa Celestin, Alphonse Picou, Muggsy Spanier, Sharkey Bonano, and others.

In 1948 Kubrick married his high-school sweetheart Toba Metz on MaThey lived together in a small apartment at 36 West 16th Street, off 6th Avenue, north of Greenwich Village. Kubrick began frequenting film screenings at the Museum of Modern Art and the cinemas of New York City. He was inspired by the complex, fluid camerawork of the directors Max Ophüls and Elia Kazan. Kubrick became fascinated with the art of filmmaking. He also spent many hours reading books on film theory and writing down notes. Sergei Eisenstein’s theoretical writings had a profound impact on Kubrick, and he took a great number of notes from books in the library of Arthur Rothstein, the photographic technical director of Look magazine. Kubrick shared a love of film with his school friend Alexander Singer, who Intended to direct a film version of Homer’s The Iliad. However Kubrick discovered that it would be prohibitively expensive, although he did manage to produce a few short Documentaries encouraged by Singer. Kubrick also made a short film documentary about boxer Walter Cartier, He rented a camera and produced a 16-minute black-and-white documentary, “Day of the Fight”. He considered asking Montgomery Clift to narrate it, whom he had met during a photographic session for Look, but settled on CBS news veteran Douglas Edwards and a score was added by Singer’s friend Gerald Fried.

The film was “remarkably accomplished for a first film”, and was notable for using the reverse tracking shot to film a scene in which the brothers walk towards the camera. Inspired by this early success, Kubrick quit his job at Look and visited professional filmmakers in New York City, to Study the technical aspects of film-making and gained confidence to become a filmmaker. In 1951 He began making Flying Padre, which documents Reverend Fred Stadtmueller, who travels some 4,000 miles to visit his 11 churches. The film was originally going to be called “Sky Pilot”, during the film the priest performs a burial service, confronts a boy bullying a girl, and makes an emergency flight to aid a sick mother and baby into an ambulance. Flying Padre was followed by The Seafarers (1953), Kubrick’s first color film, which was shot for the Seafarers International Union in June 1953. Kubrick also began making his first feature film, Fear and Desire which was filmed in the San Gabriel Mountains in California and concerns a team of soldiers who survive a plane crash and are caught behind enemy lines in a war. During the course of the film, one of the soldiers becomes infatuated with an attractive girl.

He also assisted producer Richard de Rochemont On a five-part television series about Abraham Lincoln shoton location in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Following Fear and Desire, Kubrick began working on ideas for a new boxing film. The subsequent film Originally entitled Kiss Me, Kill Me, and then The Nymph and the Maniac, Killer’s Kiss (1955) is a 67-minute film noir about a young heavyweight boxer’s involvement with a woman being abused by her criminal boss. Kubrick began shooting footage in Times Square, and frequently explored during the filming process, experimenting with cinematography and considering the use of unconventional angles and imagery. Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929) directly influenced the film with the painting laughing at a character, Martin Scorsese also cited Kubrick’s innovative shooting angles and atmospheric shots in Killer’s Kiss as an influence on Raging Bull.

While playing chess in Washington Square, Kubrick met producer James B. Harris and the two formed the Harris-Kubrick Pictures Corporation in 1955. They purchased the rights to Lionel White’s novel Clean Break and hired film noir novelist Jim Thompson to write the dialog the subsequent film the Killing, was about a meticulously planned racetrack robbery gone wrong and starred Sterling Hayden, and was Kubrick’s first full-length feature film shot with a professional cast and crew including veteran cinematographer Lucien Ballard, However He clashed with Ballard during the shooting. Despite this The Killing has had a major influence on many directors, including Quentin Tarantino.

Kubrick’s next film Paths of Glory, was set during World War I, and is based on Humphrey Cobb’s 1935 antiwar novel, which Kubrick had read while waiting in his father’s office. However MGM would not finance another war picture, given their backing of the anti-war film The Red Badge of Courage. Kubrick and Harris persuaded Kirk Douglas to portray Colonel Dax. The film, shot in Munich, concerns a French army unit ordered on an impossible mission, and follows with a war trial of Colonel Dax and his men for misconduct. For the battle scene, Kubrick meticulously lined up six cameras one after the other along the boundary of no-man’s land, with each camera capturing a specific area. Paths of Glory established Kubrick’s reputation With its unsentimental, spare, and unvarnished combat scenes and its raw, black-and-white cinematography. However The film was banned in France until 1974 for its “unflattering” depiction of the French military, and was censored by the Swiss Army until 1970. Marlon Brando then contacted Kubrick, asking him to direct a film adaptation of the Charles Neider western novel, The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones, featuring Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Stanley Kubrick and Marlon Brando then Worked on a script begun by Sam Peckinpah for the film One-Eyed Jacks. In 1959, Kubrick received a phone call from Kirk Douglas asking him to direct Spartacus (1960), based on the true life story of Spartacus and the events of the Third Servile War. Kirk Douglas had acquired the rights to the novel by Howard Fast and starred as rebellious slave Spartacus, with Laurence Olivier as his foe, the Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus. This was Kubrick’s largest film and was at the time the most expensive film ever made in America, and Kubrick became the youngest director in Hollywood history to helm an epic. Kubrick filmed Spartacus using the anamorphic 35mm horizontal Super Technirama process to achieve ultra-high definition, allowing him to film vast panoramic scenes. However Kubrick and Douglas fell out, despite this The film established Kubrick as a major director, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning four.

Kubrick’s first attempt at black comedy, was an adaptation of the controversial novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, the story of a middle-aged college professor becoming infatuated with a 12-year-old girl. starring Peter Sellers, James Mason, Shelley Winters, and Sue Lyon. Lolita was shot over 88 days at Elstree Studios, During which Kubrick often clashed with Shelley Winters. Due to its of its provocative story, Lolita was Kubrick’s first film to generate controversy and he was forced to remove much of the erotic element of the relationship between Mason’s Humbert and Lyon’s Lolita.

Kubrick’s next film was another satirical black comedy “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964). During the 1950’s Kubrick had became preoccupied with the the Cold War fearing that New York City might be a likely target for the Russians. He studied over 40 military and political research books on the subject. Kubrick Bought the rights to the novel Red Alert, and collaborated with its author, Peter George. Doctor Strangelove was originally written as a serious political thriller, but Kubrick decided that a “serious treatment” of the subject would not be believable and thought the salient points were rather absurd. So Kubrick decided to make the film as “an outrageous black comedy” and reworked the script as a black-comedy, loaded with sexual innuendo. Peter Sellars ended up playing three different roles in the film. Critics were divided some calling it a “Sick, juvenile” satire. However It was voted the 39th-greatest American film and third-greatest comedy film of all time by the American Film Institute.


imageKubrick read Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction novel Childhood’s End, about a superior race of alien beings who assist mankind in eliminating their old selves. after meeting Clarke in New York City in April 1964, Kubrick suggested he make the 1948 short story The Sentinel, about a tetrahedron which is found on the Moon which alerts aliens of mankind. So Clarke began writing the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a screenplay written by Kubrick and Clarke. The film’s theme, the birthing of one intelligence by another, is developed in two parallel intersecting stories One depicts transitions between various stages of man, from ape to “star child”, as man is reborn into a new existence the other concerns an enigmatic alien intelligence who built a series of eons-old black monoliths as signposts. The enemy is a supercomputer known as HAL who runs the spaceship. Filming commenced in 1965, with the excavation of the monolith on the moon, footage was also shot in Namib Desert in early 1967. Kubrick also observed the spacecraft in the Ranger 9 mission for accuracy. 2001: A Space Odyssey was described as a Cinematic spectacle, giving the viewer a “dazzling mix of imagination and science” through ground-breaking effects, which earned Kubrick his only personal Oscar, an Academy Award for Visual Effects. At the time it had mixed reviews but Today, it is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, and is a staple on All Time Top 10 lists. Inspiring Directors including Steven Spielberg who referred to it as “the big bang of his film making generation”.

clockwork-orangeAfter completing 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick decided to film Anthony Burgess’ controversial novel A Clockwork Orange, which he had read while filming Doctor Strangelove, although he had Initially rejected it on the grounds that the slang Nadsat, was too difficult to comprehend. A Clockwork Orange is an exploration of violence and experimental rehabilitation by law enforcement authorities, based around a young thug Alex (portrayed by Malcolm McDowell) and his gang who go round committing vicious crimes and sadistic violence. The film heavily features “pop erotica” which gives it a “slightly futuristic” look. Because of its depiction of teenage violence, A Clockwork Orange became one of the most controversial films of the decade, and stirred up a debate about the glorification of violence in cinema and it received an X-rated certificate upon release, though many critics saw much of the violence depicted in the film as satirical. However Kubrick pulled the film from release in the United Kingdom after receiving death threats following a series of copycat crimes based on the film. Consequently it was not re-released in the UK until 2000. Although John Trevelyan, the censor of the film, thought that it presented an “intellectual argument rather than a sadistic spectacle” in its depiction of violence. A Clockwork Orange received four Academy Award nominations, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editing, and was named by the New York Film Critics Circle as the Best Film of 1971. Although William Friedkin won Best Director for The French Connection in 1971 he thought Stanley Kubrick was the best American film-maker period”.

Stanley Kubrick’s next film Barry Lyndon (1975) was an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Luck of Barry Lyndon (also known as Barry Lyndon), a picaresque novel about the adventures of an 18th-century Irish rogue and social climber. The film was shot on location. in Ardmore, County Waterford, Ireland, however After Kubrick received death threats from the IRA in 1974 he fled Ireland with his family on a ferry from Dún Laoghaire and filming resumed in England. Barry Lyndon solidified Kubrick’s reputation for being a perfectionist and paying scrupulous attention to detail. The cinematography and lighting techniques that Kubrick and cinematographer John Alcott used in Barry Lyndon were highly innovative, interior scenes were shot with a specially adapted high-speed f/0.7 Zeiss camera lens originally developed for NASA to be used in satellite photography this allowed many scenes to be lit only with candlelight, creating two-dimensional, diffused-light images reminiscent of 18th-century paintings which were also meticulously replicated from works of the great masters for the film. Many of the fight scenes were shot with a hand-held camera to produce a “sense of documentary realism and immediacy”. Barry Lyndon was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Musical Score. Barry Lyndon is now considered to be one of his best, particularly among filmmakers and critics. Numerous polls, such as The Village Voice (1999), Sight & Sound (2002), and Time (2005), have rated it as one of the greatest films ever made also it has as 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 52 reviews.

Stanley Kubrick’s next film The Shining, released in 1980, was adapted from The Shining by bestselling horror writer Stephen King. The film stars Jack Nicholson as a writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker of a large and isolated Overlook hotel in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, played by Shelley Duvall, and their young son, who displays paranormal abilities. However the hotels isolation gradually sends Jack mad and there are supernatural horrors lurking in the hotel. The aerial shots of the Overlook Hotel were shot at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon, while the interiors of the hotel were shot at Elstree Studios in England. Kubrick gave his actors freedom to improvise, including the scene when Nicholson says ‘Here’s Johnny!’ The filming schedule was incredibly grueling with Kubrick, ever the perfectionist, insisting on up to 70 or 80 retakes of the same scene. Kubrick also intentionally argued with and isolated Duvall to produce extreme stress, she was also forced to perform the baseball bat scene 127 times”. The bar scene with the ghostly bartender was shot 36 times, while the kitchen scene between the characters of Danny (Danny Lloyd) and Halloran (Scatman Crothers) ran to 148 takes. The film was released in 1980, after which Kubrick ordered the deletion of a final scene, in which the hotel manager Ullman (Barry Nelson) visits Wendy (Shelley Duvall) in hospital. Despite being a commercial success The critical response to The Shining was mixed, King himself detested the film and disliked Kubrick. Although The Shining is now considered to be a horror classic, and the American Film Institute has ranked it as the 27th greatest thriller film of all time.

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