Why Kubrick?

Click the picture for a larger look.
Photo: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library

I came across the following video in which a visitor to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) Stanley Kubrick exhibit edited down the photos they took into a one-minute, film-by-film montage. It’s a fun, brief look at the exhibit set to the “William Tell Overture”, but it got me to wondering, Why exactly are we so drawn to the work of Stanley Kubrick?

People, myself included, are continually drawn to behind-the-scenes images, read his scripts, are fascinated by his lost projects and the myth that was the man to the point they are able to come up with ridiculous theories behind his films such as those discussed in Rodney Ascher’s Room 237.

Personally I love the man’s work and am drawn to it from a visual, emotional and cerebral perspective as well as a pure fascination with his filmmaking techniques and approach to storytelling. Are others drawn to him for the same reasons and how many people have essentially found themselves almost forced to love Kubrick out of a fear of not wanting to be left out?

I don’t think there are many people that can sit down and watch 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time and feel as if they have just seen the greatest movie ever. It’s a film that takes time and many a director and film critic has said as much. In fact, of Kubrick’s films I’d honestly say I only enjoyed Barry Lyndon and Full Metal Jacket the first time I saw them. My love and/or appreciation for the others have come out of a series of multiple viewings and I’m still not the biggest fan of The Shining, despite loving so many aspects of it.

Eyes Wide Shut I didn’t enjoy much at all the first time I saw it and on any random day I may now consider it my favorite Kubrick film. I saw A Clockwork Orange when I was very young and didn’t understand much at all of what I was seeing, but over the years and an intense interest and want to return to so many of his movies, whether realized or not, has caused me to simply love them.

The fact he made a film in damn near every genre, short of directing something along the lines of a Kate Hudson rom-com, is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the quality of each. Today’s directors so often get shoe-horned into the same genre and when they do branch out it so often ends up being a throwaway blockbuster rather than something of their own vision while Kubrick brought himself to everything he worked on, more than most anyone I can think of working today.

Tell me, what is it about Kubrick that makes him so appealing to so many? Do you think it is a matter of people almost being forced to like his work or do you think it’s genuine interest?

Just below is a gallery of images from the LACMA exhibit (click on any one of the thumbnails to browse the images), which ended back in June, along with the video from Vince Di Meglio and a couple others beyond that.

Additionally, here’s an interview with Sir Ken Adam, set designer on Dr. Strangelove as well as a 55-minute documentary titled “Staircases to Nowhere: Making Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining“.

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