“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”
“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”
These are the quotes of the legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick which indeed speaks volumes about his unique art and the brilliance of his cinema. To understand an artist, it is essential to view his work in totality and trace evolution of his art so that the whole meaning of the creative universe he inhabits becomes clear to us. Keeping in faith with this notion, the above quoted lines of this cinematic genius provide a significant clue in understanding the acclaimed movies he made and through which Stanley aspired to interpret the human life.
Enlighten Film Society is among the biggest film societies in India and they are instrumental in popularizing world cinema through hosting film festivals and retrospectives regularly. Two days before they successfully hosted the Stanley Kubrick Film Festival at Russian Centre for Science and Culture (Mumbai) which was attended by Kubrick fans and cinema enthusiasts alike, all gathered there to appreciate and honor a man whose art transcended boundaries. The festival was quite a pleasant experience and it covered 3 of Kubrick’s movies, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon & A Clockwork Orange along with a documentary made on Stanley Kubrick – Stanley Kubrick: A life in pictures by his daughter, Vivian Kubrick.
Stanley Kubrick was born on July 26, 1928 in New York to fairly affluent parents. His father was a prominent doctor and his parents provided the kind of upbringing which instilled early curiosity in a young kid’s mind and his talent blosommed a great deal in his early childhood. By his own account, Kubrick was a fairly good student, excelling in Science subjects and the thought of making films did not cross his mind until his father gave him a Graflex camera. This turned out to be a fortuitous event in Kubrick’s life and from here itself his love affair with visual arts began. Photography fascinated Kubrick and immensely fuelled his curiosity to explore and discover more around himself. One morning, while on his way to school he took a picture of a newspaper vendor mourning over the death of American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was instantly liked by the editor of Look magazine and it subsequently landed him a job there as a photojournalist.
Kubrick’s picture of a newspaper vendor mourning over Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death
This incident has had an incalculable effect on Kubrick’s life and went on to shape his art in a way that the whole world took notice of him and admired his work with immense respect. Successfully taking photojournalism to the next dimension, the director created his own movies, all marked with exquisite cinematography, attention to detail and a highly imaginative background score. Kubrick was also one of the early directors who initiated the trend of making films on his own without proper financing from a major studio, which was enthusiastically followed by the next generation of filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. Truly an iconoclast, he started with short films and graduated to feature films, registering both box office success and critical acclaim which brought him to the attention of Hollywood studios. His first major international release, Paths of Glory (1957) was a major critical hit and cemented Kubrick’s reputation as a visual genius.
His next two films: Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) also proved to be major achievements and Stanley found himself at the top of his game having gained enormous fame and fan following around the globe. But it was his next venture, the epic classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) which placed him among the pantheon of great filmmakers. This film established new benchmarks in the art of filmmaking and technical wizardry of motion pictures at the time it was released and is frequently referenced as the mother of all science-fiction films. Already cited by a number of filmmakers as a major influence, this movie also inspired James Cameron (director of Titanic & Avatar) to an extent that he decided to become a filmmaker himself. Continuing to direct movies after 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick finished A Clockwork Orange (1971) and continued to make films till Eyes Wide Shut (1999) which was sadly his last directorial venture. On Mar 7 1999, 4 days after screening a final cut of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick died in sleep of a heart attack at the age of 70. Obituary poured in from the entire planet & people around the globe deeply mourned his death. In every heart the universal fact echoed that this was the loss which will forever be felt, the loss of an artist whose talent transcends the limitation of its time to give life a whole new meaning and till the time cinema exists as an art form, there will never be anybody like Stanley Kubrick again.
Below is the complete filmography of Stanley Kubrick including his short films:
Day of the Fight (1951)
Flying Padre (1951)
The Seafarers (1953)
Fear and Desire (1953)
Killer’s Kiss (1955)
The Killing (1956)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
The Shining (1980)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)