A Kubrick conundrum…

"Stanley Kubrick", (1940's self portrait).



Many people seem to think so but why does Kubrick really deserve such a massive distinction?  

Is it because his artistry screams O.C.D.?  

Is it because his films strive to achieve an unreachable idea of technical perfection?   

Whatever the answers may be, it’s never a comfortable experience to watch one of his films. Ironically, it’s from this uneasiness and discomfort that Kubrick has adapted his own genre. If this is what a genius is defined as then Kubrick definitely deserves the title, however we could be reading into his work a tad too much…who knows?  

A still from Kubrick's film, "2001: A Space Odyssey", (1968).


His immaculate detailing and complex symbolism raise endless questions about his vision in films such as, “2001: A Space Odyssey“. Personally, I have never seen an artist use the medium of film so seriously and intensely in order to communicate such a significant point about the meaning of life – it’s exhausting to watch. Everything is shot for a specific purpose in a Kubrick film and you always have to be mindful of it and constantly reading into it. 

A word of warning: don’t allow yourself to sit through a Kubrick marathon because it scrambles your brain into an intellectual mess towards the end of the evening. Suddenly, everything you do means something – you pour a cup of tea, the world spins, you breathe, life is animate – somebody stop me from thinking too much, my mind’s about to explode!  

"Jack Nicholson" playing the role of "Jack" in Stanley Kubrick's film, "The Shining", (1980).


Of course, something must be said about his later work and how disappointingly ‘alternate’ it is. Sure, his film adaptations such as, “The Shining” (1980), and, “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), still possess that ‘Kubrick intensity’, but they both lack truly original concepts. It’s a different way to view a well-known text or storyline but at the same time, it’s someone else’s idea; someone else’s story. As brilliantly intricate and stylistically vivid as both films are, you can’t help but feel disappointed that it isn’t truly Kubrick’s story. Lord knows King’s novel, “The Shining“, has a far superior structural integrity that it makes the film what it is – adapted, unoriginal, and a beautiful fake.     

"Malcolm McDowell" playing the role of Alex in Kubrick's film, "A Clockwork Orange", (1971).


A fun fact:  

It’s well know that Kubrick and King clashed over the production of ‘The Shining’ in 1980. One surreal anecdote records a telephone call from Kubrick to King in the wee hours of the morning in which the director asked the author, “Do you believe in God?” Upon answering yes, Kubrick responded, “I thought so,” and hung up. For years King railed against the film but said he came to appreciate the psychological style of horror that Kubrick was mining.

'Kubrick in action' on the set of "The Shining", (1980).


When it boils down to it, Kubrick is Kubrick – there’s no director quite like him and I doubt there ever will be. He challenged, however innovatively, the very nature of film and allowed the medium to branch out and explore ideas that continue to be expanded upon today.  


Even if Kubrick has basically abused our intellect into an almost ridiculous way of thinking it’s a pretty spectacular way of doing so. His meticulous attention to detail, his symbolism and his artistic perfectionism could easily challenge anyone into over thinking their ability to create meaning out of anything. I mean, who else could have invented a rectangular, black monolith into being the very reason for reason…or was that adapted too?  


– C


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