Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Kubrick on the set of A Clockwork Orange (by far one of the best photos I have ever seen of this man)

I'm doing something a little different today, instead of reviewing a film, I'm reviewing a documentary about a filmmaker instead. The filmmaker is none other than Stanley Kubrick.

First of all I am just going to inform you I am not a crazy-mad fan of Kubrick's. I have always admired his work and consider a few of his films my personal favourites. A Clockwork Orange was always considered for a long time to be my all time favourite film and I have always loved The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Lolita. I am still yet to see a few of his films and there are also a couple which I dislike. After seeing this documentary though I have considered to re-visit these films again and hopefully change my mind.

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures is hugely insightful and inspiring. It takes you from his childhood to the inside of each of his films including interviews with his family, assistants, other great directors, actors from his films, etc. You learn how much of a perfectionist Kubrick was, spending long amounts of time working on films providing hard work for his actors and crew. His passion for classical music, and how well it was used in his films. Think of the use of Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange and Strauss in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is used so perfectly in his films to create a mood to go with the scene.

The things I loved to find out about were things like the relationship that Malcolm McDowell and Kubrick had during the making of A Clockwork Orange. McDowell describes their relationship during that time as very close but McDowell held onto this relationship after the film was released. He was always calling Kubrick hoping to spend time with him with no response. McDowell said he was young & naive at the time but your heart kind of goes out to the poor guy! Then there is a behind the scenes look at just how tough Kubrick was with his actors when we see him getting frustrated with Shelley Duvall on the set of The Shining. He swears at her and tells her she's wasting their time with not getting the scene right. It's quite a shock to see but it makes you understand just how much of a perfectionist Kubrick was and Duvall says in the doco that she never regretted doing that film because it was a learning experience but would never want to go through it again. You can see the clip here:

Most actors who worked with him praise Kubrick throughout the documentary. Jack Nicholson says at one point, 'Everyone pretty much acknowledges that he's the man, and I still feel that underrates him.'

It's astonishing to discover he only received one Oscar from the Academy and to hear critics were so harsh toward his films and often referred to him as a lunatic is such a shock because today we consider him to be a genius and one of the best filmmakers of all time.

I was highly impressed with this documentary. It made me want to watch all his films all over again and see the ones I haven't already viewed. Kubrick truly is one of the best filmmakers of all time and this documentary emphasises this.

Rating: 4.5/5


  1. Wow, I need to get more into Kubrick! Also it sucks how the Oscars are horrible at gauging good movies most the time.

  2. yes! get on it! I know, it's frustrating. Hitchcock is a great example of this, never got a best director oscar and then when he received the lifetime achievement oscar his speech only contained the word, 'thank-you.' sticking it to the man -- so awesome.