Spectacle or enigma? “2001: A Space Odyssey” is the monolith of science fiction films, sealing Kubrick’s legacy as cinema’s master.
...because by now, you might be tired of hearing about the greatness of Stanley Kubrick. Well, too bad, because how many other filmmakers can claim to have made definitive films in the genres of comedy, horror, science fiction, Roman epic, period pieces, war, noir and even erotic drama? Kubrick holds a unique place as not only one of cinema’s finest artists and storytellers, but also the form’s greatest philosopher. In developing the visual style that would define modern cinema, Kubrick also drew on his prior experience as a photographer.
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At the heart of every Kubrick film, there’s a simple question: what is good and evil? For Kubrick, film was the perfect medium to explore what drives humans to the extremes of love and hate. In someone else’s hands, this philosophical tendency could have wound up as the cinematic equivalent of a drug-fueled, late night conversation, yet Kubrick never opted for simplicity or easy answers. This subtle approach often left the audience to consider the true meaning. While this has spawned a subculture of conspiracy theorists diving deep into his films to find hidden messages, for the rest of us, it offers a cinematic experience like no other. Repeated viewings of his work often lead to a new discovery, or at the very least, an appreciation for how he combined narrative, image and ideas into a singular form.
With his background in photography, Kubrick famously paid close attention to the visual aspect of his films. In fact, his first film, "Day of the Fight," functions more as a photo essay than a standard feature film. His films make use of realistic lighting (no more so than "Barry Lyndon," which only used light sources authentic to the period), one point perspective intended to draw the eye towards the depth of field and symmetry in his production and art design. Stills from any of his films have the appearance of a staged photograph. Yet, this was always his intention, as he obsessed over color, blocking and even the lens utilized in each and every shot. However, despite his photographer’s eye, Kubrick always ensured that the decisions were always enhancing the story and themes of his films.
If you have any negative feelings about Kubrick, they probably don’t come from watching his movies, but from the pretentious film hipsters who don’t shut up about him. He’s practically the foundation of that whole “auteur” theory in film criticism, given how completely he tried to control each and every aspect of his films. Still, his films range in content from the head trip science fiction of 2001 to the nuclear war comedy of "Dr. Strangelove" to the terrifying family horror of "The Shining," with so many other distinct narrative styles and genres in his filmography. Despite these films being so diverse, each one carries the director’s trademark style and interests. On top of all that, there are also the legendary stories of him re-editing his own films until his death, manipulating his cast and crew to get the desired effect and calling for endless amounts of scene takes on set. For all that, it’s hard to imagine another director who has had as much influence not only on film, but on contemporary culture at large.
The Complete KubrickBuy now $11
Script / Screenplay
2001: A Space Odyssey – ScriptRead more
2001: A Space OdysseyBuy now $6
Room 237: DocumentaryRead more
The Making of 2001: A Space OdysseyBuy now $20
We’ll Meet Again – Musical Design in the Films of Stanley KubrickBuy now $28
Stanley Kubrick: InterviewsBuy now $20
Stanley Kubrick: A BiographyBuy now $23
The Making of Kubrick’s 2001Buy now $18
Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombBuy now $19
Love and Death in KubrickBuy now $45
Michael Ciment’s – KubrickBuy now $29