Skip to main content
Select Source:

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick

Although he first won acclaim for films he made during the 1950s such as Spartacus and Lolita, director Stanley Kubrick (born 1928) is best known for his later work, including Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket.

During his long and distinguished career as a filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick has earned a reputation as a control-obsessed perfectionist who often re-shoots scenes hundreds of times, driving actors and actresses to distraction. Yet a number of his films are considered classics of postwar American cinema, including the one critics most often point to as his masterpiece, the black comedy Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Kubrick himself for the most part ignores what people have to say about both him and his movies, believing that his work speaks for itself.

Born in New York City in 1928, Stanley Kubrick grew up in one of the more prosperous families of his Bronx neighborhood. Yet his childhood was rather bleak and unhappy. His father, a doctor, tried his best to stimulate his son's interest in learning. He made books from his library readily available, for example, and also taught the boy to play chess. But Kubrick was a poor student throughout his school years; nothing his teachers presented in class seemed to be able to hold his attention. "I never learned anything at all in school and didn't read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old, " he is quoted as saying in The Making of Kubrick's 2001. When he turned 13, however, his father bought him a still camera as a birthday present. As time would tell, it was probably the most significant gift he ever received.

Although young Kubrick took a dim view of school, he was an avid moviegoer with a keen sense of what worked and what didn't. "One of the important things about seeing run-of-the-mill Hollywood films eight times a week was that many of them were so bad, " biographer Vincent LoBrutto reports Kubrick told a writer for the New York Times. "Without even beginning to understand what the problems of making films were, I was taken with the impression that I could not do a film any worse than the ones I was seeing. I also felt I could, in fact, do them a lot better."

Experimented with Still Photography

But it was still photography, not film, that brought Kubrick his first commercial success. Rarely without his camera, he made a hobby of taking pictures to document the events unfolding around him. One such occasion presented itself following the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945. Kubrick, who was then only 17, came upon a newspaper dealer at his stand surrounded by headlines trumpeting news of the president's death. His subject's dejected posture and mournful facial expression captured the eye of the young photographer, who snapped his picture. But as LoBrutto observed, "Stanley didn't just take the man's picture, he made the situation into a piece of photojournalism." Editors at Look magazine recognized the nascent artistry in his work and bought the photograph for publication. It was the first picture Kubrick had ever sold.

Not long after that, Kubrick landed a job as a staff photographer for Look. He remained in the job for several years and traveled all over the United States. Many of his assignments were simply routine, but some allowed him more freedom to exercise his creativity.

Kubrick's travels eventually inspired him to enroll at Columbia University as a non-matriculating student. In his spare time, he often attended films shown at the New York Museum of Modern Art. And those childhood chess matches with his father finally paid off when he began playing the game for money from time to time in several New York City venues.

Tried His Hand at Filmmaking

In 1951, at the age of 23, Kubrick financed his first film with his own savings. His 16-minute documentary, entitled Day of the Fight, was about boxer Walter Cartier, the subject of one of his Look magazine photo assignments. Kubrick served as director, cinematographer, editor, and sound technician for the film, which RKO bought for its This Is America series. It played at the Paramount Theatre in New York.

Kubrick soon quit his job at Look to pursue filmmaking on a full-time basis. With an advance from RKO, Kubrick made a short documentary, The Flying Padre (1951), about a priest named Father Fred Stadtmueller who traveled around his New Mexico parish in an airplane. Two years later, Kubrick made his first color film, a 30-minute industrial documentary entitled The Seafarers.

Kubrick raised $13, 000 from relatives to help finance his first feature-length film, Fear and Desire (1953). The plot centers around four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines who kill four of their adversaries while trying to escape only to discover they've killed their own doubles. (Kubrick's first wife, Toba Metz, whom he married when he was 18, was one of the crew members on the project.) In later years, Kubrick disowned the film, calling it amateurish. On more than one occasion, he has even prevented it from being shown in public.

Kubrick's next film was Killer's Kiss (1955), financed with $40, 000 raised from friends and relatives. It tells the story of an aging boxer who becomes involved with a gangster's girlfriend. He followed this with The Killing (1956), which focuses on a gang of small-time hoods and their elaborate plan to rob a racetrack. Widely regarded as an above-average crime thriller, it is the film Kubrick himself reportedly considers the true beginning of his filmmaking career.

Scored First Cinematic Triumph

In 1957, Kubrick directed Paths of Glory (1957), an adaptation that he, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson wrote of the best-selling Humphrey Cobb novel of the same name. No studio had been willing to take on this particular project until Kirk Douglas agreed to star. Filmed in Germany, Paths of Glory is about three soldiers tried for cowardice; it is regarded as one of the best films ever made about the insanity of war.

Despite the kudos he received for Paths of Glory, Kubrick ran into some difficulties with his next few projects, which never even reached the production stage. His fortunes took a turn for the better, however, when the original director of Spartacus, Anthony Mann, was fired and producer Kirk Douglas offered Kubrick the job, making the 32-year-old filmmaker the youngest person ever to direct a Hollywood epic. It took 167 days to shoot, employed some 10, 000 people, and cost more than $12 million, an astronomical sum in those days. Although Spartacus was a hit upon its release in 1960 and attracted some Academy Award attention, it left Kubrick feeling as if he had had too little creative control. As a result, he later sought to dis-associate himself from the film.

Having acquired the rights to Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita with its themes of sexual obsession and pedophilia, director Kubrick and producer James B. Harris headed to England to do the film. The two men ended up rewriting Nabokov's script, leaving only about 20 percent of the original (by Nabokov's own estimate). The novel's subject matter was handled very subtly in the film, primarily through looks and double-entendres. But this toned-down version left many moviegoers and critics disappointed because they felt it was not true to the frank eroticism of the original story.

Ever since making Lolita, the thrice-married Kubrick has called England home; he even refuses to leave the country to work elsewhere. Notoriously reclusive, he lives in a semi-rural manor house in Childwickbury, near St. Albans. He rarely grants interviews, but when he does, he demands total control over the circumstances and the result. "He doesn't like people much; they interest him mainly when they do unspeakably hideous things or when their idiocy is so malignant as to be horrifyingly amusing, " Kubrick biographer John Baxter quoted Kubrick's onetime collaborator Calder Willingham as saying. That assessment would seem to be supported by Kubrick's next film, Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Tackled Diverse Themes

Dr. Strangelove was released in 1964, two years after the Cuban missile crisis led the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. Based on Peter George's novel Red Alert, it is what some consider the blackest comedy in movie history. The film is both a suspenseful Cold War thriller and a wicked farce that lampoons both the military and political establishments. It was a resounding hit, with Kubrick receiving Academy Award nominations as co-author, director, and producer.

Kubrick next hired science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke to develop a story about man's encounter with extraterrestrial intelligence. The result was the landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It netted Kubrick more Academy Award nominations for writing and directing and his only Academy Award for designing and directing the movie's complicated special effects. Critics generally panned 2001, but audiences loved it. Regarded as a technological triumph of filmmaking, it is also noteworthy for the fact that it contains fewer words than any other commercial sound film of its length in history (about 40 minutes' worth over the course of nearly 3 hours). "The feel of the experience is the important thing, not the ability to verbalize it, " Kubrick once explained, as reported online at Criterion's The Films of Stanley Kubrick. "I tried to create a visual experience."

In 1971, Kubrick adapted Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange for the screen and also filled his customary roles of producer and director. Controversial because of its violent scenes, the film initially garnered an "X" rating in the United States. Kubrick nevertheless wound up with three Academy Award nominations (for writer, producer, and director) as well as the New York Film Critics' Best Picture and Best Director honors. It played in England for nearly a year to sellout crowds before Kubrick and Warner Brothers removed it from theaters in the wake of several crimes that appeared to be modeled on acts of violence depicted in the film.

Kubrick's next film, Barry Lyndon (1975), represented quite a departure from his previous works. Based on the eighteenth-century novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, it was an expensive, meticulously detailed costume drama that did not do well at the box office. But it was a hit with critics and with Kubrick's fellow filmmakers, who nominated it for seven Academy Awards. Three of those were for Kubrick himself as the movie's writer, director, and producer.

Five years later, Kubrick adapted Stephen King's novel The Shining for the screen. Although it was a financially successful film, it left critics unmoved and angered King, who deeply resented the changes Kubrick had made to his original story. King eventually bought back the rights to The Shining and approved a 1997 television remake that he felt was more in line with how he himself envisioned the characters and themes.

In 1987, Kubrick released Full Metal Jacket, based on Gustav Hasford's novel The Short-Timers. A brutal look at Marine basic training and the subsequent combat experiences of a group of recruits sent to Vietnam, the film tackled one of Kubrick's favorite themes-dehumanization, particularly amid war and violence. But some moviegoers and critics took issue with the fact that he insisted on shooting the movie in London rather than in a more appropriate locale. To make his sets look as authentic as possible, Kubrick demolished a number of 1930s-era buildings to create his own rubble, brought in palm trees from Spain, and imported over 100, 000 plastic tropical plants from Hong Kong.

Scheduled for release in late 1998, Eyes Wide Shut took nearly two years for Kubrick to complete. Based on a novel by Frederic Raphael, it is a tale of jealousy and sexual obsession involving a married couple who are both psychiatrists. Problems plagued the project almost from the beginning. Star Tom Cruise reportedly balked at having to reshoot so many of his scenes and was furious that the delays finally forced one of his co-stars, Harvey Keitel, to quit due to a scheduling conflict. His departure meant that six months' worth of work had to be scrapped.

Despite his eccentricities, Kubrick is an acknowledged master of the modern cinema. His thought-provoking, carefully crafted films address timeless themes such as the absurdity of war, the nature of crime and punishment, obsessive love, madness, and even the enigma of humankind's evolution. The fact that he has not yet had a blockbuster success during his career is of no concern to him; he aims to please himself above all, which is perhaps the source of his perfectionism. As Kubrick remarked in a 1997 speech upon accepting the D.W. Griffith Award from the Director's Guild of America, a transcript of which is available online at http://pages.prodigy.com, "although [directing a film] can be like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car in an amusement park, when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal the feeling."

Further Reading

Agel, Jerome, editor, The Making of Kubrick's 2001, New American Library, 1970.

Baxter, John, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, Carroll & Graf, 1997.

Ciment, Michael, Kubrick, Holt, 1984.

Falsetto, Mario, editor, Perspectives on Stanley Kubrick, G.K. Hall & Co., 1996.

Kagan, Norman, The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick, Continuum, 1993.

LoBrutto, Vincent, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, Donald I. Fine Books, 1997.

Nelson, Thomas, Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze, Indiana University Press, 1982.

Entertainment Weekly, December 15, 1995; April 11, 1997.

Film Comment, September-October 1996.

New Statesman, October 3, 1997.

Omni, May 1993.

People Weekly, January 27, 1997; June 9, 1997.

"Criterion's The Films of Stanley Kubrick, " http://www.voyagerco.com/criterion/indepth.cgi? (March 4, 1998).

"Stanley Kubrick's Videotaped DGA Acceptance Speech, " http://pages.prodigy.com/kubrick/dgaspe.htm (May 19, 1998).

"Stanley Kubrick: The Master Filmmaker, " http://pages.prodigy.com/kubrick (May 19, 1998).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Stanley Kubrick." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Stanley Kubrick." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stanley-kubrick

"Stanley Kubrick." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stanley-kubrick

Kubrick, Stanley

KUBRICK, Stanley



Nationality: American. Born: New York, 26 July 1928. Education: Attended New York City public schools; attended evening classes at City College of the City University of New York, 1945. Family: Married 1) Toba Metz, 1947 (divorced, 1952); 2) dancer Ruth Sobotka, 1952 (divorced), one daughter; 3) actress Suzanne Christiane Harlan, 1958, two daughters. Career: Apprentice photographer, Look magazine, New York, 1946; made first film, 1950; formed Harris-Kubrick Productions with James Harris, 1955 (dissolved 1962); worked on One-eyed Jacks with Marlon Brando, 1958; planned film on Napoléon, 1969; moved to England, 1974. Awards: Best Direction, New York Film Critics Award, and Best Written American Comedy (screenplay) Award (with Peter George and Terry Southern), Writers Guild of America, for Dr. Strangelove, 1964; Oscar for Special Visual Effects, for 2001, 1968; Best Direction, New York Film Critics, for A Clockwork Orange, 1971; Best Direction, British Academy Award, for Barry Lyndon, 1975; D.W. Griffith Award, Directors Guild of America, 1997; Life Achievement Award, Venice Film Festival, 1997; Special Prize, National Society of Italian Film Critics, for Eyes Wide Shut, 1999. Died: 7 March 1999.



Films as Director:

1952

Day of the Fight (doc) (+ pr, sc, ph, ed); Flying Padre (doc) (+ sc, ph)

1953

The Seafarers (+ ph); Fear and Desire (+ pr, co-sc, ph, ed)

1955

Killer's Kiss (+ co-pr, co-sc, ph, ed)

1956

The Killing (+ co-pr, sc)

1957

Paths of Glory (+ co-pr, co-sc)

1960

Spartacus

1962

Lolita

1964

Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (+ pr, co-sc)

1968

2001: A Space Odyssey (+ pr, co-sc, special effects designer)

1971

A Clockwork Orange (+ pr, sc)

1975

Barry Lyndon (+ pr, sc)

1980

The Shining (+ pr, co-sc)

1987

Full Metal Jacket (+ pr, co-sc)

1999

Eyes Wide Shut (+ pr, co-sc)



Publications


By KUBRICK: books—

Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, New York, 1972.

Full Metal Jacket, New York and London, 1987.

Eyes Wide Shut, New York, 1999.


By KUBRICK: articles—

"Bonjour, Monsieur Kubrick," interview with Raymond Haine, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July 1957.

"Words and Movies," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1961.

"How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema," in Filmsand Filming (London), June 1963.

"Kubrick Reveals All," in Cinéaste (New York), Summer 1968.

"A Talk with Stanley Kubrick," with Maurice Rapf, in Action (Los Angeles), January/February 1969.

"What Directors Are Saying," in Action (Los Angeles), January/February and November/December 1971.

"Kubrick," an interview with Gene Phillips, in Film Comment (New York), Winter 1971/72.

Interview with Phillip Strick and Penelope Houston, in Sight andSound (London), Spring 1972.

Interview with Michel Ciment, in Positif (Paris), June 1972.

"Something More," an interview with Gordon Gow, in Films andFilming (London), October 1975.

"Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam," an interview with Francis Clines, in New York Times, 21 June 1987.


On KUBRICK: books—

Austen, David, The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick, London, 1969.

Agel, Jerome, The Making of Kubrick's 2001, New York, 1970.

Kagan, Norman, The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1972, revised edition, 1993.

Walker, Alexander, Stanley Kubrick Directs, New York, 1972.

Devries, Daniel, The Films of Stanley Kubrick, Grand Rapids, Michi-gan, 1973.

Phillips, Gene, Stanley Kubrick: A Film Odyssey, New York, 1977.

Ciment, Michael, Kubrick, Paris, 1980, revised edition, 1987, New York, 1984.

Kolker, Robert Philip, A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick,Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Oxford, 1980, revised edition, 1988.

Coyle, Wallace, Stanley Kubrick: A Guide to References and Resources, Boston, 1980.

Nelson, Thomas, Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze, Bloomington, Indiana, 1982.

Hummel, Christoph, editor, Stanley Kubrick, Munich, 1984.

Brunetta, Gian Piero, Stanley Kubrick: Tempo, spazio, storia e mondipossibili, Parma, 1985.

Magistrale, Anthony, et al., The Shining Reader, New York, 1991.

Falsetto, Mario, Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Analysis, Westport, Connecticut, 1994.

Corliss, Richard, Lolita, London, 1994.

Falsetto, Mario, editor, Perspectives on Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1996.

Baxter, John, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, New York, 1997.

LoBrutto, Vincent, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, New York, 1997.

Walker, Alexander, Stanley Kubrick: Director, New York, 1999.

Raphael, Frederic, Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1999.

Philips, Gene, editor, Stanley Kubrick: Interviews, Jackson, Missis-sippi, 2000.


On KUBRICK: articles—

"Twenty-nine and Running: The Director with Hollywood by the Horns," in Newsweek (New York), 2 December 1957.

Noble, Robin, "Killers, Kisses, and Lolita," in Films and Filming (London), December 1960.

Burgess, Jackson, "The Antimilitarism of Stanley Kubrick," in FilmQuarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1964.

"Stanley Kubrick," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1964/January 1965.

Bernstein, Jeremy, "Profiles: How about a Little Game?," in NewYorker, 12 November 1966.

Ciment, Michel, "L'Odyssee de Stanley Kubrick," in Positif (Paris), October 1968.

Houston, Penelope, "Kubrick Country," in Saturday Review (New York), 25 December 1971.

Deer, Harriet and Irving, "Kubrick and the Structures of Popular Culture," in Journal of Popular Film (Bowling Green, Ohio), Summer 1974.

Carducci, Mark, "In Search of Stanley K.," in Millimeter (New York), December 1975.

Feldmann, Hans, "Kubrick and His Discontents," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1976.

Moskowitz, Ken, "Clockwork Violence," in Sight and Sound (Lon-don), Winter 1976/77.

Kennedy, H., "Kubrick Goes Gothic," in American Film (Washing-ton, D.C.), June 1980.

Brown, J., "Kubrick's Maze: The Monster and the Critics," in FilmDirections (Belfast), no. 16, 1982.

Kinney, J. L., "Mastering the Maze," in Quarterly Review of FilmStudies (New York), Spring 1984.

Combs, Richard, "Stanley Kubrick: To Be or Not to Be . . . Again and Again," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), July 1984.

Sklar, Robert, "Stanley Kubrick et l'industrie Hollywoodienne," in Filméchange (Paris), no. 38, 1987.

Rafferty, T., "Remote Control," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1987.

Lacayo, R., "Semper fi," in Film Comment (New York), September/October 1987.

"Kubrick Section" of Positif (Paris), October 1987.

Cazals, T., "L'Homme labyrinthe," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November 1987.

"Full Metal Jacket Section" of Literature/Film Quarterly (Salis-bury, Maryland), vol. 16., no. 4, 1988.

French, Philip, "A Clockwork Orange," in Sight and Sound (Lon-don), Spring 1990.

Brode, Douglas, "Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove," in The Filmsof the Sixties, New York, 1990.

Bookbinder, Robert, "Clockwork Orange," in The Films of theSeventies, New York, 1990.

Norman, Barry, "Paths of Glory, 2001: A Space Odyssey," in The100 Best Films of the Century, New York, 1993.

Kael, Pauline, "Lolita, Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket," in For Keeps, New York, 1994.

Stein, Michael, "The New Violence: Clockwork Orange and Other Films," in Films in Review (New York), January/February 1995.

Manchel, Frank, "What about Jack? Family Relationships in TheShining," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), Winter 1995.

Combs, Richard, "Kubrick Talks!" in Film Comment (New York), September-October 1996.

Bogdanovich, Peter, "What They Say about Stanley Kubrick," NewYork Times Magazine, 4 July 1999.

Schickel, Richard, "All Eyes on Them," Time, 5 July 1999.

Herr, Michael, "The Real Stanley Kubrick," Vanity Fair, August 1999.

Bernstein, Jill, and others, "Stanley Kubrick: A Cinematic Odys-sey," Premiere (New York), August 1999.

Special issue, Sight and Sound (London), September 1999.

Phillips, Gene D. "Stop the World: Stanley Kubrick," in Major FilmDirectors of the American and British Cinema, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1999.


* * *

Few American directors were able to work within the studio system of the American film industry with the independence that Stanley Kubrick achieved. By steadily building a reputation as a filmmaker of international importance, he gained full artistic control over his films, guiding the production of each of them from the earliest stages of planning and scripting through post-production. Kubrick was able to capitalize on the wide artistic freedom that the major studios have accorded him because he learned the business of filmmaking from the ground up.

In the early 1950s he turned out two documentary shorts for RKO; he was then able to secure financing for two low-budget features which he said were "crucial in helping me to learn my craft," but which he would otherwise have preferred to forget. He made both films almost singlehandedly, doing his own camerawork, sound, and editing, besides directing the films. Then, in 1955, he met James Harris, an aspiring producer; together they made The Killing, about a group of small-time crooks who rob a race track. The Killing not only turned a modest profit but prompted the now-legendary remark of Time magazine that Kubrick "has shown more imagination with dialogue and camera than Hollywood has seen since the obstreperous Orson Welles went riding out of town."

Kubrick next acquired the rights to Humphrey Cobb's 1935 novel The Paths of Glory, and in 1957 turned it into one of the most uncompromising antiwar films ever made. Peter Cowie is cited in Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema as saying that Kubrick uses his camera in the film "unflinchingly, like a weapon," as it sweeps across the slopes to record the wholesale slaughter of a division.

Spartacus, a spectacle about slavery in pre-Christian Rome, Kubrick recalled as "the only film over which I did not have absolute control," because the star, Kirk Douglas, was also the movie's producer. Although Spartacus turned out to be one of the better spear-and-sandal epics, Kubrick vowed never to make another film unless he was assured of total artistic freedom, and he never did. Lolita, about a middle-aged man's obsessive infatuation with his pre-teen step-daughter, was the director's first comedy. "The surprising thing about Lolita," Pauline Kael wrote in For Keeps, "is how enjoyable it is. It's the first new American comedy since those great days in the 1940s when Preston Sturges re-created comedy with verbal slapstick. Lolita is black slapstick and at times it's so far out that you gasp as you laugh."

For those who appreciate the dark humor of Lolita, it is not hard to see that it was just a short step from that film to Kubrick's masterpiece in that genre, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, concerning a lunatic American general's decision to launch an attack inside Russia. The theme implicit in the film is man's final capitulation to his own machines of destruction. Kubrick further examined his dark vision of man in a mechanistic age in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick's view of life, as it is reflected in 2001, seems to be somewhat more optimistic than it was in his previous pictures. 2001 holds out hope for the progress of mankind through man's creative encounters with the universe. In A Clockwork Orange, however, the future appears to be less promising than it did in 2001; in the earlier film Kubrick showed (in the "person" of the talking computer, Hal) the machine becoming human, whereas in A Clockwork Orange he shows man becoming a machine through brainwashing and thought control.

Ultimately, however, the latter film only reiterates in somewhat darker terms a repeated theme in all of Kubrick's previous work: man must retain his humanity if he is to survive in a dehumanized, highly mechanized world. Moreover, A Clockwork Orange echoes the warning of Dr. Strangelove and 2001 that man must strive to gain mastery over himself if he is to master the machines of his own invention.

After a trio of films set in the future, Kubrick reached back into the past and adapted Thackeray's historical novel Barry Lyndon to the screen in 1975. Kubrick portrayed Barry, an eighteenth-century rogue, and his times in the same critical fashion as Thackeray did before him. The film echoes a theme which appears in much of the director's best work, that through human error the best-laid plans often go awry; and hence man is often thwarted in his efforts to achieve his goals. The central character in Lolita fails to possess a nymphet exclusively; the "balance of terror" between nations designed to halt the nuclear arms race in Dr. Strangelove does not succeed in averting global destruction; and modern technology turns against its human instigators in Dr. Strangelove, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange. In this list of films about human failure the story of Barry Lyndon easily finds a place, for its hero's lifelong schemes to become a rich nobleman in the end come to nothing. And the same can be said for the frustrated writing aspirations of the emotionally disturbed hero of Kubrick's provocative "thinking man's thriller," The Shining, derived from the horror novel by Stephen King.

It is clear, therefore, that Kubrick could make any source material fit comfortably into the fabric of his work as a whole, whether it be a remote and almost forgotten Thackeray novel, or a disturbing story about the Vietnam war by a contemporary writer, as with Full Metal Jacket, based on the book by Gustav Hasford.

Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, derived from a controversial novella by Arthur Schnitzler called Dream Story, focuses on Dr. William Harford (Tom Cruise), who jeopardizes his marriage by making a foray into the unsavory netherworld of the decadent rich in New York City. Released shortly after Kubrick's death in 1999, Kubrick's last film indicates that he was still intent on taking the temperature of a sick society. It is evident that Kubrick continued right to the end of his career to create films that would stimulate his audience to think about serious human problems, as his pictures did from the beginning. His canon of films testifies that Kubrick valued the artistic freedom which worked so hard to win and used so well.

—Gene D. Phillips

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Kubrick, Stanley." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Kubrick, Stanley." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/kubrick-stanley

"Kubrick, Stanley." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/kubrick-stanley

Kubrick, Stanley

Stanley Kubrick (kōō´brĬk, kyōō´–), 1928–99, American film director, writer, and producer, b. New York City. His visually stunning, thematically daring, boldly idiosyncratic, and darkly compelling films generally portray a deeply flawed humanity. Kubrick made several documentary shorts in the 1950s, turning to film noir features with Fear and Desire (1953), Killer's Kiss (1955), and The Killing (1956). He scored his first hit with the bleak antiwar drama Paths of Glory (1957). After completing the Roman epic Spartacus (1960), he left Hollywood (1961) to move to England. He soon made a series of brilliant films: the sexualized, sad, and uproariously comic Lolita (1962), the apocalyptic black comedy Dr. Strangelove (1964), the science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and the violently futuristic A Clockwork Orange (1971). Kubrick's later films include Barry Lyndon (1975); The Shining (1980), a terrifying version of Stephen King's novel; the bitter Vietnam-era Full Metal Jacket (1987); and the psychosexual thriller Eyes Wide Shut (1999), his last film, called a masterpiece by some critics and a pretentious disappointment by others.

See biography by V. Lobrutto (1997); G. Phillips, Stanley Kubrick: A Film Odyssey (1975); T. A. Nelson, Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze (1982); M. Ciment, Kubrick (1983); N. Kagan, The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick (1989); M. Falsetto, Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Analysis (1994).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Kubrick, Stanley." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Kubrick, Stanley." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kubrick-stanley

"Kubrick, Stanley." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kubrick-stanley

Kubrick, Stanley

Kubrick, Stanley (1928–99) US film director. An ambitious, fiercely independent auteur, his films include Dr Strangelove (1963), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), and Full Metal Jacket (1987). His final film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was released after his death.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Kubrick, Stanley." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Kubrick, Stanley." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kubrick-stanley

"Kubrick, Stanley." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kubrick-stanley