Director Spotlight: Stanley Kubrick
When flipping through the pages of cinematic history, it is difficult to find a director who has made an impact comparable to that of Stanley Kubrick. Steadily directing hits for over half a century, Kubrick is considered one of the most influential directors of all time. Audiences can instantly recognize a Kubrick film through his signature style in scenery, musical score, and cinematography. He created a consistency that is distinguishable in films as early as “Lolita” (1962) and as recent as “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999). His ability to make his prominent mark on his various films has led to his immortality as an artist.
One of the most significant qualities attributed to Kubrick’s success is his versatility. His filmography contains a wide array of genres such as drama, horror, comedy, adventure, war, historical and science-fiction. Kubrick excelled at creating the appropriate essence of each film, while managing to make them all his own. His true genius lies in his ability to set the scene and create emotion, regardless of the setting. The same use of space to create expansive solitude is used to convey horror and insanity in “The Shining”, the endlessness of the universe in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the eerie dystopian future in “A Clockwork Orange”. The emotions evoked in audiences transcend the limits of genre. Diversity exists similarly in the aspect of time periods. He was equally skilled at creating the extravagance and antiquity of the 18th Century Irish aristocratic scene in “Barry Lyndon”, as he was at creating the technological accuracy and special effects of outer space in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Kubrick was a director without bounds, and his masterpieces span all topics and temporal limits.
Kubrick is famous for his obsessive attention to detail. There are numerous stories that depict just how much effort went into every film. In “Dr. Strangelove”, a satire about the United States government during the nuclear arms race with Russia, Kubrick insisted the table around which the government officials were sitting be made green to look like a poker table. This is symbolism that viewers would never be able to catch in 1964, a time of black and white movies. It is the same seemingly excessive attention to detail that led Kubrick to personally type hundreds of pages of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in Jack Torrance’s transcript in “The Shining”, and insist that the equipment in “2001: A Space Odyssey” have the ability to actually function in space. Though it might seem like insanity, there is no denying the quality that has resulted from such meticulous detail.
The one factor that truly set Kubrick apart from just about any other director was his willingness to take on the most outrageous stories. Anthony Burgess’s novel “A Clockwork Orange” was originally banned for its violence and disturbing content. Kubrick took on this project, made the film just as disturbing as the novel, and even took out the final chapter of the book, during which the main character abandons his violent ways, to make the movie just that much more troublesome. Vladimir Nabakov’s “Lolita” is still noted as one of the most controversial novels of all time, depicting a middle-aged man’s obsession with a young girl. Kubrick not only brought it to the big screen, but made it acceptable for audiences, which was no small feat in 1962. If there was a controversial or outrageous story written, Kubrick made a movie out of it. And that is where he is a true artist- every single movie has that classic Kubrick touch, while staying true to the original novels.
It is difficult to pinpoint one aspect of Kubrick’s genius or one film that truly explains his influence on the cinematic world. The cinematography, casting, scenery, lighting, and numerous other elements lead to an overall viewing experience that can only be created by Kubrick. While many can describe him as insane, he has become a paradigm, setting an example that other directors can only hope to achieve someday. Stanley Kubrick is a legend in every sense of the word, and is one of the most influential, shocking, and well-respected men in the history of film.