Director Stanley Kubrick was famous for his perfectionism, attention to detail and his beautifully-filmed movies, raising the bar in terms of technique and execution in the film world. He never failed to bring originality to his art. With titles like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spartacus and The Shining lining his resume, there’s no denying he left us with a library of work that will remain influential for a long time. A synopsis of his accomplishments over 4 decades…
Kubrick’s early passion for photography landed him a job at Look magazine at 17. He discovered his passion for cinema there and soon after directed 3 shorts. His first directorial debut feature was a war drama Fear and Desire, later describing it as “a bumbling amateur film exercise.”
Following his second low-budget feature Killer’s Kiss, the director teamed up with producer James B. Harris to launch an independent production company. Their first project was the critically acclaimed heist thriller The Killing. The film failed to make them a killing at the box office but won them a contract with MGM.
The powerful WWI drama Paths of Glory announced Kubrick as a major new talent, and Kirk Douglas was so impressed by the young filmmaker that he hired him to take over as director of the star’s mega-budget historical epic Spartacus. While the film became a critical and blockbuster, his struggles with the studio interference inspired him to seek greater autonomy for his following projects.
Kubrick courted controversy when he took on the daunting task of adapting Vladimir Nabokov’s scandalous bestseller Lolita, but was nothing compared to his follow-up: the nuclear war nightmare comedy Dr. Strangelove, inciting heated international debate, brought censure from the US government and became one of the most talked about American films of the 60s.
After shooting Lolita in England, Kubrick decided to distance himself from the Hollywood studios by moving to the UK permanently and never returning to the US for the remainder of his life.
Five years in the making, 2001: A Space Odyssey redefined modern cinema with its astonishing technological innovations while teasing brains with its enigmatic narrative. The movie’s massive success helped Kubrick win an almost carte blanche contract with Warner Bros. They helped him finance his controversial 2001 follow-up, A Clockwork Orange, and sumptuous historical epic Barry Lyndon.
After revolutionizing the sci-fi film industry with 2001 and A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick brought his singular aesthetic to the horror genre with his enigmatic, mysterious and masterly adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, while his longstanding fascination with the subject of war found its most complete expression in his scorching Vietnam drama Full Metal Jacket.
Realizing a long held ambition to adapt Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Traumnovelle, Kubrick made is final masterpiece with the dreamlike odyssey Eyes Wide Shut, which relocated Shnitzer’s story to an eerily timeless New York City created on an English soundstage – a strange film homecoming for the Brooklyn-born Kubrick, who succumbed to a hear attack five days after completing the film.
Few filmmakers in the movie industry have received as much attention and analysis as Stanley Kubrick. His combination of artistry and technological innovation is the blueprint for the modern film maker, and his influence can be found virtually everywhere in contemporary cinema, from the work of Steven Spielberg to Alfonso Cuaron to Martin Scorsese.
Comprised of extraordinary materials made available by the Kubrick estate, the tiff. exhibition in Toronto and its accompanying retrospective provide an invaluable glimpse into the creative process of one of cinema’s most enigmatic and essential artists. So, if a future generation wants to know about the second half of the 20th Century, they will certainly hit on Stanley Kubrick! Ends Sunday, January 25th.
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