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Stanley Kubrick

Updated on August 22, 2014
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Nerd, cinephile, TV-junky, research-loving, left-leaning, science-fiending, atheist from the gutter. Follow me on Twitter @TheGutterMonkey.

Who is Stanley Kubrick?

Arguably the greatest and most influential director who ever lived, Stanley Kubrick (pronounced "Que-brick") was a meticulous filmmaker who made some of those most groundbreaking, seminal pieces of cinema ever created. His works include A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spartacus, and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

With the exception of The Shining (which is hailed by many as one of the finest horror films ever made) all of Kubrick's films from Paths of Glory to the end of his career were nominated for at least one Golden Globe or Oscar (along with several BAFTA nominations). He has also been cited as a major inspiration for many other major filmmakers, such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Woody Allen, Terry Gilliam and Ridley Scott.

Things you may not know about Stanley Kubrick

Did you know...

  • Rarely gave interviews. He did, however, appear in a documentary made by his daughter Vivian Kubrick shot during the making of The Shining (1980). According to Vivian, he was planning on doing a few formal TV interviews once Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was released, but died before he could.
  • He had a well-known fear of flying, but he had to fly quite often early in his career. Because of his hysteria on planes, he simply tried to lessen the amount of times he flew. According to Malcolm McDowell, Kubrick listened to air traffic controllers at Heathrow Airport for long stretches of time, and he advised McDowell never to fly.
  • He refused to talk about his movies on set as he was directing them and never watched them when they were completed.
  • The controversy around A Clockwork Orange (1971)'s UK release was so strong that Kubrick was flooded with angry letters and protesters were showing up at his home, demanding that the film never be shown in England again. He personally petitioned the studio to pull it from theaters, despite his legal inability to control a film after production. The studio, out of respect for Kubrick, eventually decided to pull the film out of theaters prematurely.
  • His next project after Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was to be A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), which was taken over by Steven Spielberg. It is dedicated to Kubrick's memory.
  • His dislike of his early film Fear and Desire (1953) is well known. He went out of his way to buy all the prints of it so no one else could see it.
  • Several of his novel adaptations were often met with angry reactions from the authors, because they are usually unfaithful to the source material.
  • He loved the work of Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Carlos Saura, Max Ophüls, Woody Allen and Edgar Reitz (esp. "Heimat - Eine deutsche Chronik" (1984)), among many others.
  • His favorite pastime was chess and he was said to be a master at it. Many crew members and actors found themselves on the losing end of chess matches with him.
  • He would come to his door looking for him, and as few people knew what he looked like, he would tell them that "Stanley Kubrick wasn't home."
  • He was so reclusive that the press would make up wild stories about him. One such story was that he shot a fan on his property, and then shot him again for bleeding on the grass.
  • According to his wife Christiane Kubrick, he would screen every movie he could get ahold of. One of his favorites was The Jerk (1979). He considered making Eyes Wide Shut (1999) a dark sex comedy with Steve Martin in the lead. He even met with Martin to discuss the project.
  • He was a big fan of American sitcoms "Seinfeld" (1990), "Roseanne" (1988) and "The Simpsons" (1989). He was also a fan of American football and would have his friends in America tape games and send them to him. In addition to being a sports fan, he was fascinated by the craft of television commercials. He was particularly impressed by how they could effectively tell a story in 30 seconds.
  • He was considered to be a well-read man with an extreme attention to detail. For his aborted film project on Napoléon Bonaparte, he had one of his assistants go to various bookstores to acquire every book he could find on the French emperor, and he returned with well in excess of 100. Kubrick read them all and astonished his associates with his level of retention. When working on a battlefield scene, he even examined an historical painting of the battle so he could note exactly what the weather was in the painting and make sure to film the battle on a day with similar weather patterns.
  • At the age of 16, he snapped a photograph of a news vendor in New York the day after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. He sold the photograph to Look magazine, which printed it. The magazine eventually hired him as an apprentice photographer while he was still in high school.
  • He claims: "never learned anything at all in school and didn't read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old."

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      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      Stanley Kubrick made some strange films, and he sounds like an odd individual...no wonder I'm attracted to his work!

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