Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Stanley Kubrick: ohjaajan muotokuva / Maailma Kubrickin silmin. GB © 2000 Warner Bros. P+D: Jan Harlan. DP: Manuel Harlan. ED: Melanie Viner-Cuneo. S: Manuel Harlan, Nigel Gait. Research: Marianne Bower, Camille DeBiase, Tom Gambale. Add phot: Vivian Kubrick. Narrator: Tom Cruise. With: Martin Short, Sybil Taylor, Alan Yentob, Brian Aldis, Woody Allen, Steven Berkoff, Wendy Carlos, Arthur C. Clarke, Alex Cox, Keir Dullea, Shelley Duvall, Jan Harlan, James B. Harris, Nicole Kidman, Anya Kubrick, Christiane Kubrick, Gert Kubrick, Katharina Kubrick, György Ligeti, Paul Mazursky, Malcolm McDowell, Jack Nicholson, Tony Palmer, Alan Parker, Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Douglas Trumbull, Peter Ustinov. 144 min. A Jan Harlan digibeta screened at Cinema Orion (A Tribute to Stanley Kubrick), Helsinki, 11 Jan 2011

The opening of our Stanley Kubrick retrospective in the presence of Jan Harlan. Issues discussed in the Q & A after the documentary included: 1. K. was movie crazy, constantly watching films and telephoning young directors to give his feedback. 2. It was difficult for K. to be satisfied with his own films, yet he finally was, but it took a long time. Eyes Wide Shut was his favourite film, with the longest incubation, 30 years, for him the most difficult. 3. Screenwriting was not K's forte. He did write Napoleon, but he preferred to hire professional writers. K. used very little from Frederic Raphael. 4. How did K. select subjects? Slowly. For Napoléon he made extensive research, and it was very disappointing when MGM pulled the plug. The subject deep down was always the same - often about one person - the interest is human folly, how we are governed by our emotions. Even Napoleon was not able to overcome his folly. In K's view we are shovelling our own grave. We are self-destructive. Yet in his everyday life K was optimistic. He shot 8 mm films, usually about cats, and dogs, and children. During a film production he always stopped shooting when there was tennis in Wimbledon. 5. Dr. Strangelove was planned as a serious film about the nuclear arms race, but K. turned it into a comedy to underline the seriousness. There is no other film like it. Nor like 2001 - the only film about the unknowable. "There must be more" was K's idea. Most satisfied he was with Eyes Wide Shut. 6. Using existing classical music: there was a score for 2001, but he searched a theme that was big and that comes to an end, and that's how he selected Also sprach Zarathustra. He even liked its title. The Blue Danube he selected against everybody's advice, guided totally by instinct. 7. György Ligeti: Christiane Kubrick heard Ligeti on the radio, and they selected that music, and cleared the rights, but the legal department did not file it in the proper category (it was filed as "background music"). After Ligeti's remark the matter was immediately settled to everybody's satisfaction. The Shostakovich waltz for Eyes Wide Shut was selected months in advance. K. always had a waltz in his films, and for the last film he sought a waltz in a minor key, and thus the Shostakovich version of a French musette waltz was found. 8. K usually destroyed the outtakes. He did not want anyone to fiddle around with them. There are some 17 minutes of 2001 outtakes. They were deleted because the film was already very long anyway. 2001 A Space Odyssey was not understood by grown-ups. It was rescued by teenagers and young people. Eyes Wide Shut: there are outtakes in the lab, but there is no need to release them. There can be no different director's cut. For the U.S. ratings it was necessary to superimpose some images of voyeurs to the so-called "orgy" that is actually K's vision of a modern hell. 9. The shooting ratio was enormous, and so what, film is cheap. From 800.000 ft of negative a 12.000 ft film was cut. K. liked to conduct rehearsals with cameras running. The red light inspired discipline. Saving negative is not important for the budget. Most films disappear but K's don't. They have staying power. Eyes Wide Shut was initially a success only in the Mediterranean countries. 10. Fear and Desire was for K. not a film that counted. Even Spartacus was not really his kind of film.

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