Stanley Kubrick


Stanley Kubrick

Recently I went to see the Stanley Kubrick exhibit being held at the LACMA. They displayed all sorts of props, working scripts, clips from his films, etc… The exhibit was well done, but it’s not quite what inspired me to write this post. What inspired me was the man’s body of work.

Going to see the exhibit was part of a date day planned by my wife. In anticipation of the date, she stopped at Best Buy and picked up 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Clockwork Orange. Now, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut are probably the only Kubrick movies I had seen from beginning to end (I watched half of Clockwork, bits of 2001 before) so I was in for a treat when we had a mini marathon. We only ended up watching 2001 and The Shining, but I was completely blown away and inspired.

I don’t usually like older films. In some ways I’m just as ADD in nature as the rest of my contemporaries, and older films bore me to death. But the sign of a truly great movie, is one that withstands the test of time. I’ve seen a few in recent years that still hold up despite their age. Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life come to mind. Seriously, there’s a reason they are still parodied to this day. And while Kubrick’s movies aren’t quite that old, they are still getting on in age. His space movie predates Star Wars. His horror film blows Freddy and Jason out of the water, and was made way before them. I’m not fact checking that, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.

But this all begs the question why. And why do I feel the need write about it. His movies have been analyzed to death, I’m sure. I think it’s all about his style. It’s what you love about him or what you hate about him. The ambiguity. The long shots without a single camera cut. The music, oh the music!

2001 – I totally get why some people don’t like this movie. It has long drawn out sequences in space. It’s slow in parts. Very slow. Not to mention the color trip of an ending. But I say to you that those “slow” parts where there’s not much dialogue and not a whole lot going on, forces the viewer to think. I found myself zoning out, analyzing the shot itself, how mundane a task this astronaut is going through. Why is it taking so long for this ship to dock? Because it would actually take a long time. By not force feeding an action and an event to the viewer every 30 seconds, it allows you to step back and think about the bigger picture. The meaning behind it all. Evolution, life, the past present and future of our species. Are we alone? Artificial Intelligence? There are so many interesting ideas being batted around.

The Shining – There’s a reason this movie is still terrifying to this day. It’s about what it doesn’t show. Why are two little girls the creepiest thing I’ve seen in my entire life? Because of this slow build, following a child on a bike for 2 solid minutes, the music. The hint of scary things, without ever showing too much. My mind can imagine a world far more terrifying than anything that would be put up on screen.

And here is my point. Movies these days rarely if ever hide things from you. What is that actor thinking or planning? Well, they’ll probably outright tell you in a second. What is this creature we’re so scared of? Oh, you made it brown and furry…that’s not that scary to me now that I’ve seen it. You get a lot of cheap scares that way, but it doesn’t get down to your soul. These movies won’t stand the test of time.

Good films, or rather, good stories, leave a little to the imagination. We can create anything your heart desires using the computer and Visual Effects (And if you have an appropriate budget), but should we? I’ve talked to tons of independent filmmakers who want flashy effects littered all over their project. Creatures galore. Monsters. Aliens. Cooler. Faster. Sexier. But what they’re always lacking (besides money, let’s be honest, it’s Hollywood) is the relationships in their screenplay to back all of it up. The tension caused by an alien invasion only means something because you care about what happens to the characters. The aliens and spaceships are just a happy bonus.

The real test is, can you make this movie without a single effect? Could you possibly make it work, or is it not even a little doable? If your mechanical shark broke down in the middle of production, how would you work around it?

  • nouveau maillot danemark

    Amazing! You know I love your blog!!!

Leave a Reply