STANLEY KUBRICK BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Stanley Kubrick was one of the most influential and acclaimed directors in the world at his time. His works ranged from horror to comedy to sci-fi, and his talent was just as diverse. He was a fascinating filmmaker to say the least, often straying far from the mainstream style of filmmaking in order to add a memorable distinctiveness to each of his pieces. Kubrick’s artistry and brilliance, along with his obsessive nature for perfection, produced a great number of genius masterpieces that audiences everywhere have grown to love.
The director/producer/screenwriter was born July 26, 1928 in New York City. Originally, he became known for his photography, actually selling his first photos to Look magazine while still a high school student. Eventually he had a full-time position at the magazine and he decided to use his earnings to make some documentaries. His first film, the sixteen minute long “Day of the Fight” (1951), was about boxer Walter Cartier, and it was later bought by RKO for its “This is America” series, which played at the Paramount Theatre in New York. So motivated by his success, Kubrick quit his job at Look to create motion pictures for a living.
RKO funded his next nine minute feature, “Flying Padre: an RKO Pathe-Screenliner” (1951), that was focused on priest Fred Stadtmueller. Next came, “The Seafarers” (1953). It was a half hour industrial documentary that Kubrick was commissioned to make by the Atlantic and Gulf Coast District of the Seafarers International Union. The picture also marked the first time he used color film. His following movie was his first full length feature, the war themed “Fear and Desire” (1953). The film required Kubrick, and some giving relatives, to raise $13,000, so it could be filmed in California. Unfortunately, it failed to make up its original investments. After, the director released the dramas “Killer’s Kiss” (1955) and “The Killing” (1956). They finally got him critical notice, as well as attraction from the bigger Hollywood production studios.
In 1957, he was asked to direct the Kirk Douglas war film “Paths of Glory”. It was based on an anti-war novel and followed a French army unit that failed an impossible mission, and subsequently, were sentenced to death to act as scapegoats to their supervisors. The picture won sizeable critical acclaim, and really established Kubrick as a respectable director. Douglas called him to direct his next film, “Spartacus” (1960). He took control over the picture’s production, even causing the cinematographer to complain that he was telling him to sit there and do nothing. Ironically, it won an Academy Award for its cinematography. It also won a Golden Globe for Best Picture. Next came the controversial “Lolita” (1962), a version of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel about a middle aged man’s infatuation with his twelve year old stepdaughter. It was carefully constructed to avoid censorship penalties, which were capable of determining a movie’s commercial success. Kubrick also took a big risk for his next picture, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964). Originally it was meant to be a drama, but he found his ideas to be just too funny, and so it evolved into a dark comedy. It must have been a good choice on his part, for the film turned into a cult classic.
The director’s success with his last two out-of-the-box films really allowed him the freedom to decide on the subject matter of his work, as well as have almost complete control over their production. The first film that in which he had this type of leeway was “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). The picture was a six year collaboration with sci-fi author Arthur C. Lake and instantly became a cult favorite. As well, it set the tone for almost every science fiction feature that followed. Kubrick stayed with the futuristic theme in his next film, “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), which also caused quite uproar with its explicit sex and violence. The director changed directions yet again with “Barry Lyndon” (1975), the movie adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel of manners. The popular picture portrayed the rise and fall of an Irish rogue in the eighteenth century.
Kubrick took a break before filming his next feature, “The Shining” (1980). The Stephen King novel based horror flick starring Jack Nicholson really established the director as a megalomaniac perfectionist. Already, he had been infamous for putting too many demands on his staff and actors, but this film really exemplified his obsessiveness. Nevertheless, it was a commercial success and turned into a cult hit among horror movie lovers. Seven years later, “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) was released. The Vietnam war based film is basically two pictures in one, the first part depicting the cause of Private Gomer Pyle’s suicide, the second part just becoming an afterthought from the overpowering start. It still hit home with critics and audiences alike, however. It was twelve years until Kubrick’s subsequent and final picture was released. In 1999, “Eyes Wide Shut”, starring then-married actors Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, came out. It explored the dynamics and sexuality of marriage.
Four days after screening a final cut for “Eyes Wide Shut”, the director passed away. The seventy year old’s official date of death was March 7, 1999, and he died from a heart attack. The director left behind a large legacy of dark natured work, most of which proved to be wildly popular. He uncovered ways to dehumanize subjects in his pieces, but with contrasting explicit and cautious modes. No other directors thus far have figured out how to capture his unique style, and I’m sure none ever will. Although he only produced sixteen films in his forty eight year career, he remains one of the best.
1999 Eyes Wide Shut
1987 Full Metal Jacket
1980 The Shining
1975 Barry Lyndon
1971 A Clockwork Orange
1968 2001: A Space Odyssey
1964 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
1957 Paths of Glory
1956 The Killing
1955 Killer's Kiss
1953 Fear and Desire
1953 The Seafarers
1951 Flying Padre: An RKO-Pathe Screenliner
1951 Day of the Fight