Without a doubt, Stanley Kubrick is the greatest filmmaker of all time. My first Kubrick experience occurred when I was in high school. The film in question was The Shining. I had never seen anything like it. Not only was it one of the most frightening films that I had ever seen – it really was – but the sheer inventiveness of the film making stunned me. Most of the film is a series of long tracking shots and zooms. They were all beautifully executed and framed. The lighting also struck me. It was different than what I had been used to, and I loved it. The beauty of this film was in the simplicity of how it was crafted. There was no need for the MTV-style of editing that had become so popular, a result of the attention deficit mentality of American audiences. Kubrick would simply set up a shot and let the actors act. There were no distractions and the story simply told itself. I was hooked, and The Shining instantly became one of my favorite films. I have probably seen it more than fifty times.
Later on, I dove in to the rest of his filmography. All of these films resembled The Shining in their meticulous attention to detail, and not only that, but the films were rich, not exclusively in a technical sense, but on an intellectual level as well.
Kubrick’s films all opened to mixed reviews upon initial release and have long since been declared masterpieces. Here are a few of my favorite picks from this extraordinary director:
1.) The Shining: One of the most intricately crafted horror films of all time, it is one that you will never forget. Jack Nicholson plays a writer who slowly goes mad in the Overlook Hotel, over which he has been hired as caretaker. Trapped in the ominous hotel after a vicious snowstorm, his sanity begins to slip, and the ghosts within the Overlook begin to suggest that maybe he’d get along better if he murdered his wife and son – who has a strange psychic ability called “the shining” which allows him to see the future, as well as eerie visions from the hotel’s horrific past. The Shining is rated R for violence, language, and graphic nudity. 142 minutes.
2.) A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick’s bleak vision of the future concerns a sadistic young man named Alex, who spends his days and nights violating, beating, and humiliating his gang of misfit friends, as well as perfect strangers. When a cruel prank accidentally leads to murder, Alex is sent away for a “treatment” that will render him harmless by the government’s standards through brainwashing. Kubrick raises provocative questions about God-given free will and the fear of totalitarianism – and the result is a film that you will never forget. Not for the easily offended, this film, like most of Kubrick’s work, is strictly for adults. Rated R for sexual violence, nudity, and language. 136 minutes.
3.) 2001: A Space Odyssey: A landmark film which was way ahead of it’s time, this existential sci-fi film deals with the dawn of man, space exploration, and the pros and cons of advanced technology. Largely communicated through music and images, it is definitely an experience. Rated G. 141 minutes.
Stanley Kubrick died on March 7th, 1999 after post-production on his final film, Eyes Wide Shut. However, he has left a legacy and a collection of timeless classics that will never be forgotten.