|Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999)
Stanley Kubrick was born in New York City into a middle-class Bronx family. His
first camera Kubrick got at the age of thirteen from his father. After
graduating he joined Look as a staff photographer. In 1950 Kubrick made his first documentary film,
Day of the Fight (1951), about the world of boxing. His second short, The Flying Padre
(1952), Kubrick sold to RKO-Pathe. As a feature director Kubrick debuted with
Fear and Desire (1953) an
existential anti-war allegory later suppressed by Kubrick himself. His next
film, Killer's Kiss (1955), was also privately financed. Kubrick formed in 1954 a
production company with James B. Harris, and made his first big picture, The
Killing (1956), starring Sterling Hayden. With his grisly World War I story
Paths of Glory (1957), based on Humphrey Cobb's novel, Kubrick
established his reputation as the most promising of the postwar generation of
Hollywood directors. In 1958 Kubrick married Christiane Susanne Harlan, an
actress and artist, and moved for a few years to Hollywood with his family.
After he withdrew from the unit about to start shooting One-Eyed Jacks,
Marlon Brando's independent production, he planned to make another war film,
titled The German Lieutenant. When the director Anthony Mann resigned
from Universal's Spartacus (1960), Kubrick was hired for the job. The
casting included Kirk Douglas, who was also in Paths of Glory, and such
other stars as Lawrence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton and Peter
Ustinov. The screenplay was written by blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Spartacus
became a big international hit, including the Soviet Union, in which the
uprising of the slaves against the masters supported more or less official
Marxist views. Anticipating censorship problems with his next project, Kubrick
moved to England to direct for M-G-M Lolita (1962) from Vladimir
Nabokov's controversial novel. Nabokov later
called the film a disappointment. In America it was restricted to audiences over
the age of 18. Dr. Strangelove (1964) was a black comedy of nuclear
catastrophe. Kubrick's next project, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1965), called
one of the greatest achievements in the history of film, although its premiere
was a disaster. In A Clockwork Orange (1971), based on Anthony Burgess'
ninth novel, the director continued his examination of tomorrow's world. The
film was withdrawn from circulation in Britain at the director's request.
Although the work is considered now a classic modern film, it received mixed
critics. In 1974 Kubrick settled permanently in England, partly because he
desired a greater creative freedom, but he remained a New Yorker all his life.
Kubrick's next film, Barry Lyndon (1975) was a period piece, adapted from
Thackeray's minor novel. Although the film won four Academy Awards, it was a
commercial failure. The Shining (1980), a visually stylish horror film,
was based on Stephen King's novel. King himself was unsatisfied with Kubrick's
treatment of his story. With Full Metal Jacket (1987) Kubrick challenged Coppola's
Apocalypse Now (1979) and Oliver Stone's Platoon (1986) as the best
film dealing with the Vietnam war.
Kubrick died at home in his sleep from a massive heart attack on March 8, 1999,
in St. Albans, North-London. His last film was Eyes Wide Shut, a story of
sexual restlessness, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.