room 237

Stanley Kubrick Movie Montage

Mastering the Greatness in Cinema: Stanley Kubrick, 63 Years Later!

The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle. ~S.Kubrick


 

In LOVE with Stanley Kubrick

As confessed in my previous article on Room 237: Documentary, my love for Stanley Kubrick is undeniably a never ending saga of honesty and respect for his works. Starting from Fear & Desire (1953) and ending at Eyes Wide Shut (1999), every motion picture made by him managed to grasp my senses and left me bewildered for days. There are many things in his movies which I fear watching for the second time, some are very hilarious which I can never get enough of and few are a totally placid in almost every sense.

Watching the final sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey; when Dr. Bowman travels through the atmosphere of Jupiter (Planet) and the transition of him, a man, into a Starchild, left me delirious for hours. I fear watching the sequence for the second time.

When Peter Sellers donned the character of the Dr. Strangelove (A cynic, war mongering ex-Nazi ), I felt a sense of hilarity in the overall absurdity of colonial tensions between nations and at the very cause of war. Seller calling “Mein fuhrer” to the US President and adding a Nazi salute adds charm to the overall content of the movie. This is one scene, I can never get enough of.

The reason why critics and the then general audiences mauled Kubrick and his movies makes me smirk, because, they are the priceless pieces of a greater art. Despite, being ratified as worthless crafts by audiences back then, his movies, over the time, gained the massive cult status and his characters remain alive still today; Alex DeLarge, Hal 9000, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, you name’em.

His curious observation of the unseen and un-experimented subjects left us in awe; be it the subject of pedophilia in Lolita, ultra-futuristic theme of 2001: ASO or the taboo-ish jamboree of Illuminati groups, paganism and mass-orgy in Eyes Wide Shut. A perfectionist and constant improviser, Kubrick’s test with various genres, subject and time never failed him nor the audiences. A pioneer in many of cinematic achievements, he made his movies to quench his own discreet and sublime ideas and premises.

What made him Great?

Stanley Kubrick in his early days

Stanley Kubrick in his early days

A film-maker who never managed to win a single Oscar (Best Director), for which he can be considered the Leonardo DiCaprio of the Directors, but I must admit, he was out of the league entirely. He managed to make movies equal in realism to Italian Neo-realist cinema and in glamour to big-budget Bad ASS Superhero flicks of Hollywood; his is a versatile craft very few film-makers can ever master (Other being Steven Speilberg and Coen Brothers).

An adamant director and a thrifty producer, he never made a bad movie. Every one of his movies, over his filmy lifespan of 48 years in which he managed to make only 13 motion pictures and 3 short movies with an average of 4 years in between his next release, are considered the masterpiece of modern cinema. Rarity of commercial themes and budgets were common traits of his modus oeprandi, yet he never failed to deliver a finest product on the table.

2001: ASO, Spartacus and Barry Lyndon are ranked among the epics of Hollywood’s ever produced. Dr. Strangelove, Lolita and A Clockwork orange are among the highly lauded and critically acclaimed movies ever.

Most Clichéd about Kubrick

1. Slow and protracted scenes

Scenes from his movie 2001: ASO lasted for more than 15 minutes; when Dr. Bowman is pulled into a tunnel of colored light and other cosmological Shits of Jupiter, and also when he deactivates HAL (Hal 9000) for its mischief, which were weirdly long and slow. The sedated scenes often became the major trademarks of Kubrick’s craft which were later followed in Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.

Capturing the time and space of entirety of a particular sequence [2001: ASO] were followed religiously by Kubrick, for whom there were no cutting shorts. When a scene required to be long, he made them generously long.

 

2. Reverse tracking shots

After Hitchcock, Kubrick would be the one who popularized the dolly zoom method of tracking shots in the movies. The popular scenes from Paths of Glory tracking Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) walking in the trenches, A Clockwork Orange tracking Alex Delarge (Malcom McDowell) walking around the London mall and Gny. Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) and his recruits marching in Full Metal Jacket were all done using reverse tracking shots.

 

3. Subliminal messages

The Shining is probably most famous among audiences for the subliminal messages it purportedly tried delivering. The length of controversy of discreet messages went furor, even Rodney Ascher (Room 237) made a documentary film on it.

…as it happened!

#1 Lolita (1962)

Lolita happened in the spring of 1962. An independent venture of Kubrick and James B. Harris, Lolita became the most controversial movie of the time. Their experiment with the sensitive subject of pedophilia and lust landed the movie in troubles with the censors. The British Board of Film Censors rated the movie ‘X’ therefore, barring the audience under the age of 16.

Despite, the comments it may have received from the then audience and the critics later, Lolita opened up a space for film-makers to make and promote movies as they pleased.

#2 Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

The year 1964 began with the release of Dr. Strangelove or…, a comic take on Cold War and the brewing hatred between two giants of the World; USA and Russia. Assimilating the great cast, creating life like sets and adapting a dark story of war and nuclear weapon into major motion picture was quite a tough task for Kubrick.

Peter Sellers as the Dr. Strangelove himself and his alien hand syndrome, along with addressing the US president with “Mein Führer,” stole the show entirely. The implications of the movie is to portray the dire consequences of brewing hatred among two nuclear powers of the world, along with a comic gesture on what could happen to the world if a nuclear war is to take place!

#3 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The most challenging and expensive venture of Kubrick has to be none other than 2001: A Space Odyssey. Made in 60s’, it explored a Science-fiction tale of how the world, mankind and Space would land up in the 21st Century. Kubrick employed the specialists from the fields of science and technology, Arts, Special Effects and Sounds to give his movie a real-life like experience.

From building a rocket capsule to creating a cosmological phenomena of an unseen Jupiter’s atmosphere, he mastered the craft of making stories that are far-sighted and thoughtful.

Most critics and audiences panned the movie when it was first released. Today, it’s a cult and is used in reference to every possible space exploration movies made post-2001: ASO.

#4 A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The year 1971 ended with the horrors of Alex DeLarge‘s criminal past. As it happened, a controversial story of A Clockwork Orange established Kubrick as the film-maker who could make movies on any subject given, despite the level of visual intolerance it could render On-screen. Alex’s character portrays a sociopath; he glorifies rape, assault and loot. He’s an imagery of evil, yet the movie established him as a profound character of behavioral psychology and morality.

It’ was banned in UK for 27 years, following the controversy surrounding the violence occurred in the English society which were believed to be inspired by the movie.

#5 Barry Lyndon (1975)

Alex’s story was followed by the exploits of the 18th century Irish Adventurer in 1975, when the year ended with the Luck of Barry Lyndon. A movie of epic proportion, after Spartacus, Barry Lyndon explored the rise and fall of a hearty character –Barry Redmond, an Irishman who managed to experience the harshest treatments and sweetest pleasures the world has ever to offer.

3 hours long, the movie is considered one of the finest movies of Kubrick. Despite its rather slower and darker tone, the movie doesn’t fail to capture your attention and constant critical consensus. It’s a masterpiece!

Ryan O’Neal, donning a Victorian-aged suit with a curly blonde locks and quirky smile,  shines throughout his adventures in the movie.

#6 Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Professed as an Erotic-Thriller by the critics, Eyes Wide Shut took on the complex premise of Illuminati gathering and quasi-religious sexual rituals. Exploring the taboo subjects, Kubrick’s approach went towards showing how a regular family suddenly erodes because of the effects of unforced measures of relationships. Sexual fantasy, envy, dishonesty and boredom are its common themes.

Released few months after the death of its Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut remained his final ever project which marked his 13th motion picture and end of his career.


For complete Stanley Kubrick Filmography, The Kubrick Site and Kubrick Collection @WarnerBros

ROOM 237: Unraveling the Mysteries of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980)

“Symmetry, subtlety, and the thin line between civility and barbarism.” — Kevin Ernest Long

I’m in this passionate love with Stanley Kubrick’s mind. I wonder, how he finds these undefinable elements and adds depth to his characters. The deafening silence that prolongs the plots of his movies and the sudden yet subtle explode of climax is unimaginable. My love for Kubrick is based on his story-lines crafted with finesse and his actors who add mcharm to their characters with infinite improvisations and retakes.

Kubrick montage

A true perfectionist, Stanley Kubrick is quite the smartest and intelligent film-maker ever.

ROOM 237

An exemplary examining documentary on Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining (1980), and the obscure elements existing in the movie.

Offering diverse theories yet controversial, these film fanatics unravel the mysteries hidden in Kubrick’s movie. As it may sound crazy, the theories presented are personal findings and recollections of people who dedicated an important portion of their life decoding the movie’s messages.

Official Poster; Room 237

Official Poster; Room 237

ROOM 237 takes you to an Odyssey inside Kubrick’s mind! Dissected and displayed in front on the table, these are the showcase of various ideas pertaining to historic and cultural facts embedded into his movie which are finally revealed. They presumably fail to justify the authenticity of their hypothesis, as it cannot be validated with Kubrick who is no longer alive, however, the suggestions made by these experts were the eternal part of Kubrick’s life which can or do relate to his film-making style.

There are 9 segments, each decoding the metaphors which were possibly intentionally added by Kubrick during the filming to embed the message he wished to deliver yet denied public from seeing it. An exemplification of product marketing —Subliminal Marketing.

Some of the most Horrifying Theories

#1 The Fake Moon Landing (Apollo 11)

One theorist suggests that the Apollo 11 landing on the moon was faked, moreover, it was produced by Kubrick in a Hollywood studio. He points out that he found telltale signs of front projection used in moon landing footage, which is primarily used during film-making. Also, there are subliminal signs in the various plots of the movie that suggests that Kubrick intentionally embedded those images that profess that the landing was faked.

Room 237 of the hotel room is the base of all the nastiness and evil. In this very room, Jack encounters a ghost and hence starts being lunatic. Later Danny stops by the room staring at the very door, like he suspects there is something hidden inside -things he mustn’t know. Dick Hallorann, a chef, confirms Danny’s doubt by declaring the fact that he must never talk or care about Room 237. It’s prohibited from Danny’s eyes as well as the truth of moon landing’s prohibited from the public.

This very room also defines a part of Kubrick’s life he contracted to NASA and could never profess about it to anyone else. It’s a burden and regret he carried all his life that he wished to relive and so he did through The Shining, 11 years later.

He (Theorist) points to the knitted Apollo 11 sweater that Danny wears, and the fact that a carpet pattern resembles the Apollo launching pad as evidence that the film is an elaborate apology of sorts for Kubrick’s involvement.

#2 The Holocaust

Another theorist suggests, the movie is about The Holocaust.  He connects Jack’s sinister recitation of the Big Bad Wolf’s refrain to a Disney production where the wolf is an anti-Semitic caricature. Kubrick always wanted to make a movie based on the events of The Holocaust, however, he later dropped the whole idea.

It’s suggested that Kubrick sympathized with the whole holocaust thing. His prior life was mostly influenced by the horrifying events of WW II in Europe, and he showed the same through his movie by embedding subtle imagery of Nazi brutality and genocide of Jews. He’s an auteur, re-exhibiting the memories of Holocaust through The Shining.

A typewriter in most of the scenes plays prominent role. It’s randomly shown almost all the time in the movie. Typewriters played prominent role during Nazi occupation as well. Its extensive use in typing out and making a list of Jewish population was humongous during The Holocaust. If your are to watch The Schindler’s List, typewriters are extensively used and shown during the entire span of the movie.

 

#3 The Genocide of Native Americans

Kubrick’s ability to insert sublime elements in his movies is well known. In many instances, through the scenes and dialogues, Kubrick tried exemplifying the genocide that occurred in the greater American landscape against Native Americans.

The use of cans of Calumet Baking Powder in the backdrop, the poster of a Native hanging by the wall and the iconic elevator scene where the blood floods the whole hallway -suggests the height of American Imperialism which crushed the repression of Natives. Despite our denial throughout the history, Kubrick suggested that the truth shall come out either way and we must repent our wrongdoing one day. In the movie, it’s the gushing out of a flood of blood from nowhere.

In an early scene, the hotel’s manager, Stuart Ullman, claims that the property was build on the site of native American’s burial ground. Therefore, the scene where the blood is flooding the hallway signifies the very blood of those crushed souls which are buried beneath.


 

The Shining (Movie) Vs The Shining (Book)

Written by Stephen King, The Shining (1976) explores the objectives of paranormal in a rural hotel site and how a sane man is possessed by lunacy and is compelled to turn blood-thirsty for his own family. When Kubrick adopted the story, King stepped in with his creative inputs for the movie, however, after the movie was produced, it turned out to be way different than the book which infuriated King on a creative ground.

King’s important themes, such as the disintegration of the family and the dangers of alcoholism, were ignored. He quoted;

What’s basically wrong with Kubrick’s version of The Shining is that it’s a film by a man who thinks too much and feels too little; and that’s why, for all its virtuoso effects, it never gets you by the throat and hangs on the way real horror should.

Stanley Vs Stephen

Stanley Vs Stephen

Kubrick along with Diane Johnson co-wrote the entire movie. As assumed by the theories presented, he had everything different in his mind about it. His motive was not to present what King had created but what he witnessed in his life. Jack Torrance is Stanely Kubrick and The Shining is his own story.

The movie confuses you in most levels and makes you wonder; how come Jack is possessed by a demon, why does he keep seeing things that do not exist moreover interact with them, and why does Jack appears in the picture dated 1921 shown at the end of the film. It leaves a sense of wandering and exploration that doesn’t end with the movie. It’s his trademark style. There are various levels of psychological elements involved with the project, most of which are decoded and published by Room 237.

Be it The Holoacust, the genocide of natives, fake moon landing, the myth of Minotaur and his labyrinth or the psychologial englihtment of little Danny throughout the entire span, the movie silently takes your away into a journey that resembles 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). A masterpiece, a cult and possibly the smartest movie ever made!

Room 237 (2012)

Directed by Rodney Ascher, Produced by Tim Kirk, Starring: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan and Jay Weidner

Distributed by IFC Films, IFC Midnight