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Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick: Interviews

Elisa Pezzotta
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Stanley Kubrick
    Book Description:

    From his first feature film, Fear and Desire (1953), to his final, posthumously released Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Stanley Kubrick excelled at probing the dark corners of human consciousness. In doing so, he adapted such popular novels as The Killing, Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining and selected a wide variety of genres for his films -- black comedy (Dr. Strangelove), science fiction (2001: A Space Odyssey), and war (Paths of Glory and Full Metal Jacket). Because he was peerless in unveiling the intimate mysteries of human nature, no new film by Kubrick ever failed to spark debate or to be deeply pondered.

    Kubrick (1928-1999) has remained as elusive as the subjects of his films. Unlike many other filmmakers he was not inclined to grant interviews, instead preferring to let his movies speak for themselves. By allowing both critics and moviegoers to see the inner workings of this reclusive filmmaker, this first comprehensive collection of his relatively few interviews is invaluable. Ranging from 1959 to 1987 and including Kubrick's conversations with Gene Siskel, Jeremy Bernstein, Gene D. Phillips, and others, this book reveals Kubrick's diverse interests -- nuclear energy and its consequences, space exploration, science fiction, literature, religion, psychoanalysis, the effects of violence, and even chess -- and discloses how each affects his films. He enthusiastically speaks of how advances in camera and sound technology made his films more effective.

    Kubrick details his hands-on approach to filmmaking as he discusses why he supervises nearly every aspect of production. "All the hand-held camerawork is mine," he says in a 1972 interview about A Clockwork Orange. "In addition to the fun of doing the shooting myself, I find it virtually impossible to explain what I want in a hand-held shot to even the most talented and sensitive camera operator. "

    Neither guarded nor evasive, the Kubrick who emerges from these interviews is candid, opinionated, confident, and articulate. His incredible memory and his gift for organization come to light as he quotes verbatim sections of reviews, books, and articles. Despite his reputation as a recluse, the Kubrick of these interviews is approachable, witty, full of anecdotes, and eager to share a fascinating story.

    Gene D. Phillips, S.J., is a professor of English at Loyola University in Chicago, where he teaches fiction and the history of film. He is the author of many notable books on film and is a founding member of the editorial board of both Literature/Film Quarterly and The Tennessee Williams Journal. He was acquainted with Stanley Kubrick for twenty-five years.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-982-2
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-14)

    Discussing Stanley Kubrick’s adaptations could seem to be a challenge because, although the director adapted novels and short stories, his films are among the furthest from the written medium. In particular, since 2001: A Space Odyssey (USA and UK, 1968), his films (i.e., A Clockwork Orange [USA and UK, 1971], Barry Lyndon [USA and UK, 1975], The Shining [USA and UK, 1980], Full Metal Jacket [USA and UK, 1987], and Eyes Wide Shut [USA and UK, 1999]) seem to definitively exploit all cinematic techniques, embodying a compelling visual and aural experience. But it is for these reasons that his cinema...

    (pp. 15-33)

    The first Kubrick documentary short, Day of the Fight (USA, 1951), is based on a director’s pictorial that was published on January 18, 1949, in Look magazine, about a day in the life of boxer Walter Cartier. The screenplay is by Robert Rein (Phillips and Hill, 2002: 74). The other two documentary shorts, Flying Padre (USA, 1952) and The Seafarers (USA, 1953), are based on original material, and Will Chasen has writing credits for the latter short (Phillips and Hill, 2002: 116–117, 316–317). Similarly, the director’s first two feature-length films, Fear and Desire (USA, 1953) and Killer’s Kiss...

  6. Chapter Two PLOT CONSTRUCTION: Ellipses and Enigmas of Unrelated Scenes
    (pp. 34-55)

    Kubrick’s films are often interpreted through oppositions, “dualities of meaning.” For example, Mario Falsetto claims:

    My contention throughout this study is that Kubrick’s work revolved around particular dualities of meaning. Most narrative, stylistic, or thematic issues in the films relate, in some way, to the following polarities: subjective/objective, classical/modernist, rational/irrational, empathy/distance, clarity/ambiguity, order/chaos, symmetry/asymmetry, conventional/subversive, surface/depth, what we know and what remains hidden. (2001: xxii)

    As mentioned in the Introduction, many other critics read Kubrick’s body of work through oppositions. What remains unclear is the use of the expression “dualities of meaning” and the result of the struggle between these...

  7. Chapter Three PLOT CONSTRUCTION: A Chaotic Geometry
    (pp. 56-84)

    The unrelated sequences which characterize the plot construction of Kubrick’s adaptations are, on the one hand, inserted in symmetrical syuzhet structures, in which the end mirrors the beginning, as in A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and Eyes Wide Shut, and/or in plots strongly ordered into parts, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon, and Full Metal Jacket. The symmetry of the syuzhet structure is often emphasized by scenes that evoke one another through the mise-en-scène and montage. The geometry of the plot construction is usually evoked by superbly composed images, in which the mise-en-scène constitutes a particular order and/or...

    (pp. 85-114)

    Claudia Gorbman claims that, in classical narrative sound films, music occupies a background role in comparison with other elements, such as characters’ actions and dialogue, which usually aid in the progression of the story.

    The classical narrative sound film has been constituted in such a way that the spectator does not normally (consciously) hear the film score. Music being non-narrative and non-representational takes a back seat, as it were, to the viewer’s principal object of attention—the story, the characters: the diegesis … The spectator tends to be conscious of discourse (elements, including music, that enunciate the story) only insofar...

  9. Chapter Five DREAMY WORLDS
    (pp. 115-141)

    A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut seem to be shrouded in dreamy atmospheres. The director’s first concern does not seem to have been to realistically depict the extradiegetic world, but, rather, to break the illusion of reality, to create a diegetic world as far as possible from the extradiegetic world, even if the latter world is often cited in the diegesis, as is argued in the next chapter.

    This dreamy atmosphere is manifest in the very first scenes of A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. As already discussed, the first film opens...

    (pp. 142-182)

    As discussed in the previous chapter, Kubrick’s protagonists are usually passive spectators and listeners in their diegetic worlds. They often remain entrapped in a dreamy world, governed by the director’s aesthetic rules, in which the extradiegetic world is often cited. Indeed, the films deliberately exhibit their awareness of being works of art in several ways. For example, the diegetic world is evoked in the diegesis itself through the presence of scenes that recall previous sequences, or foretell subsequent events, often parodying them. Or the extradiegetic world is evoked in the diegetic world both indirectly and directly. In the former case,...

    (pp. 183-186)

    Stanley Kubrick’s last six adaptations are characterized by some structural and stylistic patterns. In terms of plot construction, they are constituted by tableaux vivants and/or unrelated episodes that are usually separated by ellipses and full of unexplained mysteries. Their syuzhet is symmetrical and/or ordered into unlinked parts, and often the end recalls the beginning. On the one hand, this geometry of the superstructure is evoked by the symmetry that dominates single images, and by the symmetry that joins two or more sequences. On the other hand, this order is disrupted by the chaos introduced by the image of the maze,...

    (pp. 187-198)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 199-204)
    (pp. 205-212)
    (pp. 213-218)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 219-230)