Stanley Kubrick Enters the Ring


PrizefighterTIME Magazine posted the following video and an essay from Jon Dieringer, which takes a look at the short film spawned from Stanley Kubrick‘s 1949 photo-essay “Prizefighter” for Look magazine.

Here’s a snippet from Dieringer’s piece:

[Alexander] Singer and Kubrick had forged a bond over shared scholastic apathy and mutual respect of each other’s extracurricular achievements — Singer as editor of the school literary arts magazine, and Kubrick as the kid with a camera around his neck: “almost a caricature of what you’d imagine a teenage cameraman would look like,” as Singer describes. When plans to photograph a feature-length cinematic adaptation of Homer’s Iliad written and directed by Singer proved too ambitious, Kubrick struck upon the idea to instead translate one of his own photographic essays to the big screen.

That essay was Prizefighter, published by Look in January 1949, and described by Kubrick biographer Vincent LoBrutto as the moment he came of age as a photojournalist. The seven-page story depicted scenes from the life of Bronx-born middleweight boxer Walter Cartier as he trained and prepared to enter the ring against moments from his romantic and domestic lives. Often working under stark, overhead light with infrared film (also favored by his idol, Weegee), Kubrick captured high-contrast images that emphasized Walter’s physique and cast brooding, incisive shadows on his face.

Prizefighter would go on to define Kubrick in other ways, though. It might have been his dawning moment as a photojournalist, but the essay would also serve as the basis of the first film Kubrick would direct, called Day at the Fight, released two years later.

The video includes narration from Kubrick’s friend and collaborator on the Day at the Fight project, Alexander Singer, who comments on how the short film would be a way for Kubrick and his team to display they had everything it took to make great feature films from editing, staging to photography. The video includes never-before-seen contact sheets from the “Prizefighter” photo essay that helped inspire the film.

I have included below the seven-page spread from Look, which you can browse through by simply clicking on the thumbnails, followed by the new essay and then followed by the short film itself. Step back in time and take a look at the moment where Stanley Kubrick decided he would become a filmmaker and see what first began as a short film and ultimately became features such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange.

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Weekend: Dec. 12, 2019, Dec. 15, 2019

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