Legendary cinema master Stanley Kubrick rarely gave interviews. Kubrick famously guarded his privacy, intending his movie classics like PATHS OF GLORY (1957), 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), THE SHINING (1980) and FULL METAL JACKET (1987) to speak for themselves. Yet Kubrick is one of the few filmmakers whose movies were enormously popular at the time of release but now also rightfully considered art.
For the documentary, KUBRICK BY KUBRICK, director Gregory Monro obtained four rare audio interviews Kubrick exclusively gave to the editor of France’s leading film magazine, Positif. Monro’s fascinating doc is a glimpse into the life and mind of the visionary Kubrick who only managed to make 13 features in 46 years; 13 films that have left a deep imprint on the film canon, endlessly debated and dissected, and in the fervid imaginations of cineastes the world over.
Perfectionist Kubrick often spent half a decade in pre-production first finding the right book material then erecting an entire universe on a sound stage or studio lot before putting his actors through exhausting re-takes. This obsessive preparation process sometimes resulted in legendary projects that will only ever exist in our flickering dreams (Jack Nicholson as Napoleon) or eventually made by other directors (Steven Spielberg’s A.I).
Monro underscores this exacting process in interviews with actor Sterling Hayden who recounts how the director utilized his anxious stage fright to elicit a terrified performance in DR. STRANGELOVE (1964). But at the opposite end of the spectrum, composer Leonard Rosenman physically assaulted Kubrick after the filmmaker required 105 takes for a single piece of music in BARRY LYNDON (1975) (Rosenman is still convinced the second take was the best).
Yet as Ciment’s taped discussion unspools, Kubrick is revealed to be humble, cogent and always precise as he reflects on his creative process. Though KUBRICK BY KUBRICK can’t pierce the heavy myth of the movie maker who died in 1999 just before the release of his last film EYES WIDE SHUT, Monro provides a celebratory peek into the work life of the meticulous craftsman whose exhilarating images continue to induce chills.
By Thomas Logoreci