Stanley Kubrick


 Stanley Kubrick










"He died before he could witness the century he had already made famous with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley wanted us to see his movies absolutely as he envisioned them. He never gave an inch on that. He dared us to have the courage of his convictions, and when we take that dare, we're transported directly to his world, and we're inside his vision. And in the whole history of movies, there has been nothing like that vision ever. It was a vision of hope and wonder, of grace and of mystery. It was a gift to us, and now it's a legacy. We will be challenged and nourished by that for as long as we keep the courage to take his dare, and I hope that will be long after we've said our thanks and good-byes."

- Steven Spielberg during the 71st Academy Awards

March 10, 1999

I spoke with my friend Robert Rehme, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - and was told there will be a brief segment on Oscar Broadcast dedicated to Stanley Kubrick. However, no posthumous award. It is against Academy policy.

- Arnold Leibovit

Stanley Kubrick by Arnold Leibovit

"The Grand Master of Filmmaking"


The sudden shocking news of the death of Stanley Kubrick has left the film community breathless. Mr. Kubrick has been a seminal influence in all of our lives. His movies are benchmarks in cinema and often referred as the apex of our medium.

A little known fact about Stanley Kubrick was how often he took the time to personally respond to letters he received from around the world and from people he never knew or met. I doubt there are many well known figures in filmmaking today that can boast that claim. It says something extraordinary about the man!!

For instance - Stanley Kubrick was kind enough to allow me access to a print of 2001:A Space Odyssey while doing my film tribute The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal. Taking the time to write a note to me about its use and George Pal as an influence for him with such films as The Time Machine, Conquest of Space, War of the Worlds and others was something I will always cherish. Roger Mayer, current President of Turner Entertainment, was a top Exec at MGM at the time. Roger, a big supporter of my George Pal efforts, arranged the communique which prompted the positive response from Kubrick. Happily I was able to use a pristine MGM print for the sequence in my tribute to Pal. Thank you Stanley (and Roger!)

Kubrick's attention to detail, his thoroughness in studying a subject, grasping the very essence of it for the cinema - before, during and after a project is both awe-inspiring and amazing! Arthur C. Clarke once remarked that two hours talking with Stanley gave him a headache - not in a disparaging way but just to point out how much more Kubrick knew about a subject than he did. Kubrick's attention to detail was really his great gift. Just look at the movies he made and it comes through in every single frame.

Although often criticized for the time and labor he took to devise his projects and shoot his scenes, it is this very nature that defined a Kubrick movie. They were not simply slices of boloney like so much junk Hollywood throws out. He took the time, the care, the administrative effort to make things right and strived not to be interferred with so he could make it right. Because of this Kubrick turned out one resonant image or sound or effect after another. Afterall, being a director - a filmmaker - a term that Stanley Kubrick surely defined - is choices. And making the appropriate ones at the appropriate time is what it's all about. No one but no one did it better than Stanley Kubrick. I defy anyone hearing a musical theme from a Kubrick movie for instance and not be instantly struck by the visual image Kubrick conceived for that music in their heads. Often the two are indistinguishable from the other. One might even remark - "isn't that the way it's supposed to be." I think Kubrick got it right because of the choices he made. He defined the medium he was working in and created memorable resonant icons of music and images that are simply unforgettable!

As a side note - I also know I am not the only one who holds the opinion that somehow Hollywood turned away from Kubrick because he refused to mingle in the Hollywood scene and live in England. It is a sin that no Oscar was awarded Stanley Kubrick as director while he was alive! I am certain much will be made of this. Perhaps a nomination for "Eyes Wide Shut" next year?

In July we can look forward to EWS but it is most unfortunate we will see no more films from this movie maestro.

As we head into the coming milennium - so close to his brilliantly visualized 2001 - it will be timely to reflect upon this cinema genius. Much will be made about it in the media. Probably re-releasing the film no doubt. All in all a testament to the name Kubrick. A name that will ring out as one of the great media influences of the 20th Century! His film legacy will last long after all of us have passed on. A master. An original thinker.

It is unlikely we shall see another Stanley Kubrick anytime soon. He will never be forgotten!!

As Steven Spielberg said in a press release today,

"He copied no one while all of us were scrambling to imitate him. He created more than just movies. He gave us complete environmental experiences..."


Film World Honors Kubrick

Updated 3:00 AM ET May 17, 1999

By Nick Madigan

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Stanley Kubrick called himself a "demented perfectionist," and there were few who disagreed Sunday during a tribute to the late director of gems like "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange."

"His eccentricities were the ones of an artist protecting his vision," said movie critic Richard Schickel. "Other men broke under the strain of Stanley's heedless pursuit of perfection.I suppose that, in the end, he did, too."

Sitting among the audience at the Directors Guild of America were actors who worked for Kubrick, including Jack Nicholson ("The Shining) and Keir Dullea ("2001"); and admirers like Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and Curtis Hanson.

Warner Bros. co-chairman Terry Semel recalled the "hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and thousands of faxes" he received from Kubrick during their 30-year collaboration. "I guess you could say he was unrelenting," Semel said, and the crowd laughed knowingly.

Semel said he spoke with Kubrick by phone early on the day Kubrick died in his sleep -- March 7, in Harpenden, England -- and that the director had been jubilant about his latest film, "Eyes Wide Shut."

"He clearly went to bed with a smile on his face," Semel surmised.

Vincent D'Onofrio, whose first film was "Full Metal Jacket," remembered asking one day on the set why there was a van full of people nearby.

"'Those are the London film execs,"' Kubrick replied. "'They're not allowed to get out."'

During the making of "Dr. Strangelove," production designer Ken Adam said he drove Kubrick to the set every day in his Jaguar E-type, "but Stanley insisted I not drive above 30 miles an hour."

Adam described the Bronx-born director as "a kind patriarch," revealing that Kubrick had once spent hours helping him set up the lights for a scene in "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Spielberg met Kubrick -- "a schlumpy-looking man in ill-fitting clothes" -- on the London set of "The Shining" in 1980. "'Saw your last movie, '1941,"' Kubrick said to him. "'It was great, but it wasn't funny. You should have sold it as a drama.' "

More recently, Spielberg said, "We were actually going to do a picture together that he was going to produce and that I was going to direct; I have 900 pieces of fax paper on that project."

During a reception following the tribute, Spielberg said he often sent Kubrick the first cuts of his movies, even before the studios had seen them, but that Kubrick did not reciprocate. "How come?" Spielberg asked him around the time of "Full Metal Jacket."

"'Because that's who I am, and that's who you are,"' Kubrick replied.

Beatty said Kubrick "navigated the currents of idealism and the vulgarities of the marketplace better than anyone else."

"Most of us were so shocked by his death because we figured if anyone had it wired to live to 110 or 125, it was Stanley," Beatty said.

Warners Hopes To Open 'Eyes' With Clips

Updated 3:00 AM ET May 17, 1999

By Susanne Ault

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Getting a jump on the summer movie blitz, Warner Bros. is offering never-before-seen clips of Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" to media outlets Monday, two months before pic's summer release July 16.

The hush-hush approach to the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman sizzler's storyline hasn't changed much, however, and no date has been confirmed for the release of the "Eyes" trailer intotheaters.

But what has been set in stone is a 60-second commercial spot for "Eyes," featuring the new clips and set to air on NBC Thursday during "ER's" season-ender.

As for the content of the fresh footage, WB senior publicity vice-president Nancy Kirkpatrick would only say, "As always, Mr. Kubrick's film will speak for itself."






Two very different depictions of Stanley Kubrick that appeared in the British Press. The Sara Maitland article posted in "The Independent" is a previously unknown Kubrick collaborator giving a detailed account of working on A.I. in 1995. It may raise a few eyebrows. Then there appears the following article in "The Guardian" in the Saturday Review section. An article from another previously unknown Kubrick collaborator, Candia McWilliam, who like Maitland is a British short story writer, giving a detailed account of working with Kubrick on "Eyes Wide Shut" in 1994.

These are wonderfully fascinating and all at once rivetting and touching to read. This is not just a great insight into the intensity of Kubrick's working methods but also a beautifully written elegy. The Maitland article though sometimes harsh resolves with that great sense of loss and regret for what was never to be. One thing is clear. There was real genius at work here.



Sci-Fi Station first learned of these articles from Richard Fitzgerald - a Kubrick fan. Thanks for hunting this down Richard! Credit also to Dave in England for his getting "The Guardian" article scanned. Also thanks to John Riggi and Scott Jones for forwarding the article to us, which originally appeared in "The Independent."

You may wish to view Dave's very fine collection of Stanley Kubrick images and articles:

Both Candia McWilliam and Sara Maitland articles as they appeared in England follow.

The Guardian - March 13 1999

"There was an atmosphere nicely poised between a seance and a chess game"

Novelist Candia McWiIIiam on a rich, strange experience working with Stanley Kubrick on his last film, "Eyes Wide Shut."

Another great spirit gone, and this one, Stanley Kubrick, without the protection offered to Iris Murdoch by the loving articulacy of John Bayley. Bayley's practical achievement for his wife, aside from the artistic achievement, was to protect her, by the appearance of total transparency, from speculation about her circumstances.

This has not been the case with Stanley Kubrick. Not that Kubrick was without such love from his family, which is exceptionally close, but< he had chosen to keep silence, in a society that is deafeningly noisy. Now he is being punished for it.

With a man of reputation dead, there's a rush for the scraps and I'm uncomfortably aware that a piece like this is, strictly, part of the indecorum. But such stuff has been written about him these last few days that eventually, when asked, by one of the few people who knew I had had anything to do with him, to write something, I decided I would. The danger is that, like a cannibal eating the heart of a great warrior to give himself courage, one is putting oneself first, attempting to absorb something of the departed hero.

With Stanley, this wasn't possible. He had made himself into a human being almost wholly absorptive, not reflexive. Not that he wasn't reflective; he gave most of his time to serious thought. He took it in: he didn't waste time by generating dazzle. Not, again, that he couldn't, but he conserved every bit of energy that came.

Kubrick telephoned me one morning in 1994. It wasn't a complete surprise because, with the unfailing manners he always showed me, be had asked my publishers first if he might have my telephone number. Most gossip columnists, most geeks in search of a free quote, don't do that.

He wondered if I might be interested in working with him and I said I didn't suppose l'd be very good at film. I continued in this gloomy vein. But we talked for a long time on the telephone and quite soon I forgot to be anyone other than my truest self in apposition to this intelligence that was taking time to talk to me. I was won over. Not long after that, a grey car of real, not showy, invisibility came to collect me. It was driven by Emiio from Monte Casino, who like everyone who worked with Stanley, used the word "we" of the entire family and included me at once in a world of long loyalties, knotted family ties and utter devotion to the man and his work - including the particular bending of time zones that Stanley needed to make the most of his time on earth.

His sudden death, so much younger than his own father who died in his late nineties, proves he was right. Perhaps his body knew he had completed this last film, "Eyes Wide Shut," and simply went to sleep for good. The film, which is complete, was shown in New York to its stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and the executives of Warner Brothers, the week before Stanley died. Tony Frewin, who has been Stanley's assistant for 35 years, whose father and son also worked for Stanley, told me that the film is absolutely finished. No other hand than Kubrick's will cut nor polish it. It is his. Apart of it was very nearly - and how wide a gulf is 'nearly' in films - mine, for this was the film he asked me to write and over which we worked in the summer of 1994, with Emilio coming to get me and taking me to the house in Hertfordshire where Stanley would be waiting.

I read, in one of the many inaccurate reports this week has offered, that he was a great bear of a man. I am big, but even had I not been, Stanley was delicate, little, even, with small hands and silky black hair. He, who was a mage of appearance, who could wring suggestion from the merest milk-glass framed within the camera's eye, had resigned from the timewasting presentation of himself. He was not self-disrespectful, but there was no sense of vanity. I heard it said this week that that he was "arrogant"; only a vain person could say that of him. He had proper pride. He did not indulge in the false modesty and writhing caringness of those who choose to waste themselves in sucking up to the Zeitgeist.

We would sit opposite one another among machines in a darkish room. There was a plate of biscuits we didn't eat, and once or twice he smoked, with distance, a cigarette that felt quite amateurish. There was an atmosphere poised nicely between a seance and a chess game and the purest flirtation, of the sort you have with a beloved character in a book, with no question of the vulgar imposition of the physical.

It was among the closest intellectual contact I've known. The construction of Stanley's brain was, to me who am solitary and fed by words and my eyes, like that of no other I have met. He was not distractible, nor was he narrow. He was a master of extraction; he could pull from one what he needed to make his own ideas complete. He was, if the word, has meaning in a debased time, a genius. He took from one what he needed, but I didn't feel depleted. because his undivertable energy and strange openness refreshed my mind.

James Kirkup was right to say in his obituary in the Independent, that "for Kubrick the film-maker the sense of language did not exist; and I suspect that's one of the reasons my script failed him, but it was unforgettably fascinating for me to learn from him. He took the gamble of using a quantity of his remaining time to teach me from scratch how a script can be made.

A novelist can marshal and deploy, boss and organise, millions, and none of them complains, for they are his companions in loneliness. A film-maker has to accommodate the innumerable imperfections of the temperaments of others. Unless you assert your supremacy, the friction between intervening personalities will ensure nothing gets done. I could not bear the idea of contact with other people to the degree that Stanley, in his professional life, had it. It is no wonder that he told me that actors were machines for transmitting emotion.

If you create films, rather than plays, novels, poems, that are mimetic of what is most real about the human condition, you are going to need to find some solution to the gluiness of that condition while you make the films. Stanley found control, confidence, and discretion. Instead of, like many directors, cultivating "profile", he relayed the third dimension. He is one of the few great artists who can manifest thought.

He was baffled by what he I think saw as my unworldliness. He asked me once if I had ever been out to a party when I was younger. Quite soon, he had Tony bring me an enormous fax machine so that we could be in touch at all times. It was like a piece of Stanley, whom it was impossible to consider without machines - ticking, whizzing, rolling, imparting, tallying - in the bedroom. He was bothered by how early I went to bed, but considerate of an oddball who didn't stay up till first light.

I took him garden roses, which he gave to his wife, who is a painter of exciting, unpastoral, figurative works. He did not know the roses' names, but to look at them with him was to see through his eyes, the gift his film gives us; he looked not with the eyes, but with the mind. We sat in the big kitchen with his big yellow English dogs and agreed that life was hell and people wicked, and returned again to the twists of the film, that deals with the blackest compulsions of human intimacy.

It was like a game of visualisation. By the end of each time together we would be feeling out a mutual maze, practically beyond words, in our heads. I feared privately that my slight gift was too indirect for him to lean upon and so I wrote increasingly in a way not my own, producing in the end a rank impersonation about which he was far too kind. It was rotten, and I think often of how it should have been had I been older then, and of how generous, tactful, encouraging and kind was this man who gave me such a lot of his time.

He also gave me a video of Full Metal Jacket. Emilio drove it over. Stanley rang to see how l was enjoying it. I told him it was horrible and that I could only watch it in bursts. The appalling thing is, I wasn't trying to be cheap or flip. It was true. He laughed, and we spoke of other things. That egoless behaviour would be uncommon in a celebrity chef, leave alone one of the greatest film directors in the world.

Stanley Kubrick, whose funeral was quiet, whose guide perfection, was amused by the definition of oblivion offered by Ambrose Bierce in his Devil's Dictionary: "Oblivion (noun): fame's eternal dumping ground".

The master recognised the difference between the grand illusion of film and the great illusion of fame. He would not peddle aversion of himself through interview or photo session to our Hello-drugged inattentive eyes. He gave us his work. I asked him what geniuses he'd known. Peter Sellers, he said, and Nabokov. One other I can't name. And he went on to describe Madame Nabokov, with a little ruby-inlaid pistol in her hand-bag. I don't know whether it was true or untrue, but he'd spoken me a frame of film.

Candia McWilliam's latest book is the collection of short stories, Wait Till I Tell You, published by Bloomsbury, £14.99, Picador paperback, £6.99

copyright The Guardian.

  The Independent: "My Year With Stanley"

By Sara Maitland on her working with Stanley Kubrick on "A.I."

One morning in 1995 the telephone rang. I answered and a gruff voice said, "This is Stanley Kubrick. Would you like to write a film script for me?" Assuming this was a joking friend, I replied, 'And this is Marilyn Monroe and I've been dead 30 years." He laughed. It really was Stanley Kubrick.

This slightly surreal episode was the beginning of one of the most exciting, frustrating, confusing and educational periods of my professional life. For a brief time I was Stanley Kubrick's scriptwriter.

Why you? I am asked with unflattering amazement. Without undue arrogance, I was rather a sound choice. He wanted me to work on the long-promised "Kubrick's Al film," although he always called it "Pinocchio". He was fascinated by Artificial Intelligence. He wanted to effect a cultural change. If robots are made by us and act like us, why are they not our children? He complained about Blade Runner, that if it was that difficult to determine who was a replicant - why did it matter? Why do they have to be hunted down? He believed computers will become truly intelligent, including emotionally and are potentially a more environmentally adaptable form of human being: they are our future. The film was intended to make us love them.

By the time I came to the project it had become enormous, unwieldy unfocused. Kubrick needed some through-line of fairy tale, of story beneath plot. He was creating a new myth and needed someone who was at home wit myth and how it works. At the same time, the technology and the scale - which spanned at least three millennia - were overwhelming the story. It needed a writer who dealt with the little, the nuances of interrelationship, of the minute movements of human hearts and especially since maternity was an important theme, of women's hearts. Kubrick had encountered my short stories and recognised that that is what I do. I write about the underbelly of human emotions in the framework of myth and fairy story.

He did not want an experienced scriptwriter. He wanted a storyteller. When I told him I had never seen a film script, he was delighted. He wanted a running text, not a script: filming it was his job. He boasted that there was no sentence in the English language which he could not make into film. We played a game in which I had to come up with unfilmable sentences. "She perfectly repressed her anger" was one that gave him pause.

He wanted sentences to film. Sadly I could not deliver for him. He wanted to make this film, really wanted to; I wanted to write it. So why didn't it work? I am not sure now that it was makeable: he had played with it too long so that it had to be perfect and at that scale nothing is going to be perfect. Perhaps he could turn anything into film, but this presupposed an infinity of time and resources.., and even then it may not be possible to invent a myth in that individualistic way.

It didn't work between him and me because I was not the right sort of writer. I have to write out ideas to be confident of them; he had to be persuaded by ideas very quickly before he wanted time spent on them. I need space and silence and time; he wanted engagement and immediacy (and obedience). I had the wrong size of ego: too large to hand my creative skills over to him passively too small to believe I could sometimes know better than him.

But it also did not work because he was impossible to work for. This is part of the Kubrick myth. It was also true. He had more energy than anyone I have ever met. He dedicated himself to the project and he expected everyone around him to do so too. While his energy was directed at our work he would ring up repeatedly at ridiculous hours, wanting total attention, now. He was completely involved and did not understand that anyone might work in a different way. Once, when we were stuck, I managed to say that I and the story needed some space. How long? he asked. A month, I suggested. He looked at me and said, "I couldn't." Then he laughed and, in an unusual moment, told me everyone who had ever written for him had asked for the same thing, but he had come to realise he just could not leave his project with someone else for that long. We finally negotiated 10 days. We parted and I drove home, barely an hour away By the time I got there there were three messages from him on my answer machine: all of them demanding an immediate response. There was no apology, no mention of our recent agreement.

He was famously arrogant. I asked him once how he imagined "active" robots would look in a few thousand years. "However I make them look in this film," he said. I felt envious, not aggrieved, by this. I admired his sense of his own power. Because he was arrogant, he got the films made.

He was also supposed to be paranoid, and sometimes I did wonder. Small, compact, bearded, often wearing a boiler suit he did not look like someone who abhorred physical contact, but at our first meeting he conspicuously avoided even the customary handshake; I never saw him touch another person. He loathed journalists, especially British journalists. In a conversation I mentioned a friend of mine was a journalist. "Do you know many journalists?" he demanded. "Yes." "If I'd known that," he said calmly "I'd have had a non-contact clause in your contract."

He was profoundly secretive. There was a silencing clause in my contract - I could not talk about the film. I now suspect that lots of other writers worked on this project: but he would never say who or what or why they had stopped, or even if they had stopped. I would like to meet other people who tried to write this story with him; and discuss what film we all thought we were working towards. The idea of our getting together would have appalled him. Once I left a message about the script with his PA and got a tremendous ticking off: about work I could talk only to him.

But does this constitute paranoia in any clinical sense? He was busy and he was reclusive; he protected his privacy Inside his protective cordon he was warm and friendly and his large household was relaxed and friendly He lived, rather unromantically between Luton and St Albans, in the house originally built for the founder of Maples furniture store: an Edwardian pomposity set in large grounds. His "office" was the old billiards room, rather charmingly unaltered with the scoreboard still on the wall and replicas of the original heavy velvet curtains. Only the billiard table itself had been removed, replaced at one end of the room by a desk and at the other by an awe-inspiring and, to me, mysterious, bank of film-stuff: TV screens, videos, and electronic wizardry.

On a couple of occasions we went from there through a warren of ex-servant quarters to the enormous kitchen-cum-sitting-and-dining-room. Under the central kitchen-island each of the half-dozen dogs had a recessed bed. It was very like my kitchen would be if I was rich and famous. The whole household, including the staff, seemed to drift through these informal lunchtimes. It was chatty fun, normal.

He was one of the best talkers I have ever met, flamboyant with his ideas, interested in yours, widely read, fiercely intelligent and demanding; and seriously funny on a good day But in the end he was interested in the film, not in me. He was savagely impatient. He could be rude when thwarted, even in minor matters. Eventually it became clear that I wasn't giving him what he wanted. I began to feel bullied instead of excited, less and less able to wheel as he wanted, less and less eager to do so. I started to grumble to my friends, while feeling a failure.

One day he handed me a book called Viennese Novelettes by Schnitzler. I must read "Rhapsody", it was a wonderful story, it would make a wonderful film. So I read it and it didn't grab me. That was the end. It had grabbed him. (I now know it had grabbed him 20 years ago, but he spoke as though he had only read it the night before.) It is the basis of Eyes Wide Shut. "Pinocchio" was on hold. The cheque for completion of my contract arrived and I never heard from him again.

That sort of thing makes people angry. This week someone said that Kubrick was a great director but a "failed human being". I recognise the feeling, but know for me that is a defensive reflex: it means he failed to love me or, rather, my work. Kubrick made some great films, marked as his, in an almost old-fashioned way He had a long-lasting marriage and his numerous dogs liked him. He adored his grandchildren; they were perhaps the only personal topic he ever mentioned. I wouldn't mind being that sort of failure.

I thought I was angry, until I heard he had died. Then I realised that I hadn't really quite given up hope that when he had finished this little film, he would come back to the big one; he would ring up again one day and let me work with him - and even though it would be horrible and frustrating again, I would say yes.

I am proud that I worked for him. He made me interested in flim writing - I know I want to do so again. And l am sad; I think we have lost someone magnificent."

 Cruise, Kidman attend Kubrick's funeral in England

(Last updated 7:39 PM ET March 12 - Reuters/Variety) By Matthew Green

CHILDWICK GREEN, England (Reuters) - Screen stars Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise joined Stanley Kubrick's family at his English mansion Friday to pay their last respects to the controversial American film director.

Fellow director Steven Spielberg also was among a select group of mourners who attended a secretive funeral service in the tranquil surroundings of Childwickbury Manor in Hertfordshire, just north of London.

The world's media was kept well away from the manor but did see Cruise, unshaven and wearing his trademark sunglasses, and his wife, Kidman, holding hands as they raced past in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousine.

The couple star in "Eyes Wide Shut," the last film made by Kubrick, a man whose uncompromising portrait of violence won him acclaim and criticism.

Previews of the erotic thriller were released in the United States this week, showing the Cruise and Kidman in a steamy sex scene.

Spielberg, momentarily silhouetted by a thousand camera flashes, followed in a black Mercedes, dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses.

A gentle drizzle was falling as other guests drove through the gates of the red-brick house where Kubrick died Sunday, at the age of 70.

Kubrick, whose films included "2001: A Space Odyssey," "A Clockwork Orange," "Dr. Strangelove" and "Full Metal Jacket," was acclaimed for his direction, but his perfectionism often drove actors to distraction.

The director lived a reclusive life, and security was tight at his home, surrounded by a high hedge and red signs warning that trespassers would be prosecuted.

Residents in picturesque houses near Kubrick's centuries-old mansion said they rarely saw the director who had been their neighbor for 20 years.

"We've lived here a long time, and we've only seen him three or four times," said one woman.

A local man told reporters: "He was a very good lord of the manor."

 (March 11, 1999 Reuters/Variety) By Dan Cox and Michael Fleming

LAS VEGAS (Variety) - With an eye-opening 90-second teaser that featured more explicit nude footage of Nicole Kidman than the entire Broadway run of "The Blue Room," Warner Bros. unveiled the first glimpse of Stanley Kubrick's final film "Eyes Wide Shut" on Wednesday.

The footage, which consisted of a passionate makeout scene between Kidman and husband Tom Cruise in full monty regalia, was shown to movie theater owners during their annual ShoWest convention.

The event was presided over by WB co-chairman Terry Semel, who nearly broke down while introducing the Kubrick trailer. "Last Tuesday, (fellow co-chairman) Bob Daly, Nicole, Tom and I had the extraordinary pleasure of seeing Stanley's final cut in New York City," Semel said. "We were blown away."

Semel described it as the exploration of sexual obsession of a married couple. Though word of the screening led to speculation that the film might have difficulty at ratings time, Semel assured the exhibitors, "This will clearly be a film that will be rated R, with a great story and performances that are truly electrifying."

Semel, who'd spoken with Kubrick hours before the director's death on Sunday, got emotional when he spoke of the sudden death. Ever the perfectionist, Kubrick prepared the teaser just for ShoWest and gave Semel explicit direction on exactly how to introduce it.


Combined Newswire Press Releases as of March 7, 1999

By Arthur Spiegelman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The death of Stanley Kubrick robbed the film world Sunday of one of its towering masters and came just as he completed his latest opus, "Eyes Wide Shut," a star-studded project shrouded in secrecy.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who starred in "Eyes Wide Shut," said they were "devastated" and famed director Steven Spielberg called Kubrick "the grand master of filmmaking."

Stanley Kubrick, was one of the few directors in film history who could rightfully be called a genius. The iconoclast behind such classics of modern cinema as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange" was 70.

In keeping with Kubrick's famously reclusive reputation, few details of his death were released, but he reportedly died of a heart attack in his sleep at his home in Hertfordshire, 25 miles northwest of London.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Kubrick's death,and his family said there would be no further comment.

The death of the legendary filmmaker comes just a few months before the release of "Eyes Wide Shut," his zealously guarded psychosexual thriller starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

The film, his first since 1987's "Full Metal Jacket," was shown to Warner Bros. execs for the first time just last week in New York. As always, Kubrick maintained complete control over his work, whisking the print back to London as soon as the screening ended.

In a statement, Cruise and Kidman, who gave up more than a year of their busy lives for the chance to work with Kubrick, said, "He was like family to us, and we are shocked and devastated. We did see the movie, and it was completed except for final looping and mixing. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to share this experience with him. He was a true genius, a dear friend, and we will greatly miss him."

Steven Spielberg called Kubrick "the grandmaster of filmmaking. He copied no one,while all of us were scrambling to imitate him. He created more than just movies. He gave us complete environmental experiences that got more, not less, intense the more you watched his pictures."

Kubrick's perfectionist style was much in evidence during the filming of what would be his final opus, "Eyes Wide Shut." He obsessed over every shot, reportedly having his stars do dozens of takes for each scene, and calling them back to the London set (he never worked far from home after 1961) for reshoots months after filming had supposedly ended.

The fate of "Eyes Wide Shut," which is due in theaters on July 16, remains unclear, although a spokeswoman for Warner Bros. insists it will be released as planned. Studio heads Terry Semel and Robert Daly said in a statement that they are "deeply saddened by the loss" of Kubrick, whom they called "a towering figure in the world of film and a deeply loved and respected member of the Warner family for nearly three decades" The two say Eyes Wide Shut is "a fitting close to a tremendous career. It is a tribute to a remarkable and unforgettable man. We will miss him very much."

The Bronx-born Kubrick created such film classics as "2001: A Space Odyssey," (1968) "Lolita" (1962), "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) and "Dr. Strangelove" (1964).

While his films had dark, pessimistic overtones, Kubrick made everything from comedies -- most notably "Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" -- to science fiction, "2001," to costume dramas, like "Barry Lyndon" (1975). His World War I drama, "Paths of Glory" (1957), is considered one of the classics of the genre. "He was in the pantheon of great film making. He did so many things so well and raised the bar for film from special effects to the use of music, said Daily Variety film expert and critic Leonard Klady.

When he died, the reclusive Kubrick was in post-production on "Eyes Wide Shut" his long-awaited latest film which, like his other projects, was filmed over a long period of time and amidst great secrecy. The drama's initial shoot lasted a grueling 15 months from November 1996 through Jan. 31. Then Kubrick announced last April he was bringing back key cast members for reshoots.

Kubrick was known to control every aspect of his films, dictating what color ink should be used to write on materials sent to him. "He was truly consumed with every aspect of production," Klady said.

Spielberg said Kubrick's reputation as a recluse was undeserved and that really he was a "great communicator." "When we spoke on the phone, our conversations lasted for hours. He was constantly in contact with hundreds of people all over the world."

Jack Nicholson, who worked with Kubrick on "The Shining," once said of the filmmaker, "He gives new meaning to the word 'meticulous.'" But it was this care and exactitude that made his filmmaking, as sporadic as it was, so unique and daring.

The Brooklyn-born Kubrick began his career as a photographer for LOOK magazine in the late '40s, making his directorial debut with the 16-minute documentary "Day of the Fight," about boxer Walter Cartier, in 1951.

"I was aware I didn't know anything about making films," Kubrick once said, "but I believed I couldn't make them any worse than the majority of films I was seeing. Bad films gave me the courage to try making a movie."

Kubrick's feature film debut came in 1953 with the war drama "Fear and Desire," which he also produced, edited, and served as director of photography. Kubrick made the picture for only $100,000, and its take on the morality of war was a theme he would return to again and again.

Kubrick returned to the front lines with the 1957 anti-war film "Paths of Glory," which starred Kirk Douglas as a soldier during World War I sent on a suicide mission. The brutally realistic film was not only a gripping indictment of the injustice of war, but it cemented Kubrick's reputation as a bold new talent behind the camera.

In 1960, Kubrick took over the helm of the behemoth that was "Spartacus" from Anthony Mann, at the time the most expensive film ever made. The director was praised for his efforts, not only for the jaw-dropping scope of the Kirk Douglas Roman slave epic but for its dramatic structure and studied performances.

But "Spartacus" was to be his last studio film, and when Kubrick made 1961's Lolita in London, he decided to stay there, signing a unique pact with Warner Bros. that gave him complete control over every aspect of his pictures.

"I like being away from the Hollywood phoniness," Kubrick told Newsweek in 1987. "When I lived there people would ask how's it going, and you knew that what they hoped to hear was that you were behind schedule or had trouble with a star."

Kubrick's interpretation of Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel about a middle-aged man obsessed with a 12-year-old nymphet received mixed reviews, as would many of his pictures. Kubrick later complained that censors did not allow him to delve too deeply into the more salacious aspects of Humbert Humbert's relationship with "Lolita," who was aged two years for the film.

But the ironic humor on display in Lolita was out in force on Kubrick's next effort, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1963). The nuclear war satire, made at the height of the cold war and originally conceived as a serious meditation on nuclear holocaust, cemented Kubrick's reputation as an emotionally detached director, who was not concerned with giving his audience a warm and fuzzy moviegoing experience.

With the success of "Lolita" and "Dr. Strangelove," Kubrick was given free rein over his projects, and soon chose to bring Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Sentinel to the screen. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), which was more than three years in the making, was so unlike anything that had come before it that one critic called it "the world's most expensive underground movie."

But while the seminal sci-fi film's technical brilliance was hailed, its dense story line and minimal dialogue originally left many critics cold, although within a few years they started to come around. Spielberg called it "the Big Bang that inspired my generation's race to space."

2001 was followed by the nightmarish "A Clockwork Orange" (1971), in which violence-prone anti-hero Malcolm McDowell makes his way through a futuristic society gone bad. Reaction to the film, with its bold camera work and cynical message, was sharply divided (Anthony Burgess, on whose book the film was based, publicly criticized the work), and Kubrick removed it from release in Britain after it was blamed for inspiring copycat violence.

McDowell, who didn't always have kind words for Kubrick ("Extraordinary. Yes. Brilliant, yes. But as a human being - that's the test he doesn't do too well"), said he was "deeply saddened by his death" and called him one of the "heavyweights of my life."


In the costume drama "Barry Lyndon," released in 1975 and starring Ryan O'Neal, Kubrick again explored morality and innovative camera work (he used special photographic equipment for the candlelit scenes), but the film, based on William Thackery's 19th century novel, was a commercial disappointment.

His fortunes changed in 1980 with the adaptation of Stephen King's "The Shining," starring Jack Nicholson as a writer who moves with his family to an isolated hotel. While many complained that the movie failed to capture the terror of the book, it's still trademark Kubrick, with his shots of the immense hotel capturing the sense of claustrophobia and Nicholson's over-the-top performance ("Here's Johnny!") bringing the audience with him as he descends into madness.

It was to be seven years before Kubrick's next effort, 1987's "Full Metal Jacket." The film, again a chilling look at how war dehumanizes and corrupts men, begins onParris Island, where the recruits are put through the hell of basic training. It then moves to Southeast Asia, although since Kubrick wasn't about to leave home, London had to fill in, not always to the best effect.

Kubrick, already known as a hard-driving director, didn't change his image on "Full Metal Jacket." He was known to be hard on actors, and one story from the set of his Vietnam War drama, "Full Metal Jacket" had it that when he asked actors who wanted to volunteer to die early in the movie, almost the entire cast raised their hands.

One volunteer who was selected found that he then had to lie around playing a corpse in the mud for three months. Still, actors, directors, producers, movie fans and critics all respected Kubrick's vision and ability to tell a story on screen.

Kubrick never intended "Eyes Wide Shut" to be his final film, and was reportedly interested in two projects: AI, a film about artificial intelligence that was billed as one of the most technically challenging project ever attempted; and a biopic on Napoleon.

And while Kubrick, who never won an Academy Award for Best Director, may have lived his life out of the public eye, he was far from out of touch, telling Newsweek, "The general picture is that I'm a recluse surrounded by high walls and computers who wears a football helmet while driving at 30 miles an hour and has a helicopter spray his garden."

In 1997, upon accepting (on videotape) the D.W. Griffith award from the Directors Guild of America, Kubrick said, "Anyone who has ever been privileged to direct a film also knows that, although it 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."

Kubrick is survived by his wife, Christiane, and three daughters, Katharine, Anya and Vivian.

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