Sunday, December 09, 2012

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Directed by Jan Harlan, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures is a documentary film about the life and works of one of cinema’s revered and controversial filmmakers of the 20th Century. With narration by Tom Cruise, the film explores the films that Kubrick has made in his career as well as the controversy he had received for each one. With filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Alex Cox, Alan Parker, Sydney Pollack, and Woody Allen providing insight about his work. The film also features interviews with Kubrick’s wife Christiane Kubrick as well as people and collaborators who appeared in his films like Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Jack Nicholson, Matthew Modine, Peter Ustinov, and Malcolm McDowell. The result is a fascinating documentary on one of cinema’s great filmmakers.

The documentary is balanced between the works of Stanley Kubrick as well as a look into his very private personal life that he had been guarding for so many years. Through Tom Cruise’s calm yet insightful narration, the film explores many aspect of Kubrick’s life including his childhood and his days when he worked as a photographer for Look magazine. While there’s not a lot of discussion of his early shorts with the exception of Day of the Fight, there are some discussion about his feature film work from Fear and Desire to Eyes Wide Shut.

While it is no surprise that many of his collaborators and the actors who appeared in his films will admit that Kubrick is difficult. Many of them reveal that a lot of the stories about Kubrick’s eccentricities and his meticulous detail where some of which were exaggerated by the press. There were more funnier eccentricities about the way he leaves notes to his family about taking care of pets. The film also features rare footage of Kubrick as a child as well as his family life with his wife Christiane and their children as his daughters discuss many of Kubrick’s persona as well as the fact that he didn’t like to do a lot of press coverage or be in the spotlight. One of them did reveal that just before the release of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick was planning to do a few interviews just to set things straight about what had been said about him.

The documentary also reveals a few things about the unrealized projects that Kubrick had wanted to work on. One was a bio-pic on Napoleon Bonaparte that he was fascinated by as he wrote a very detailed screenplay but shelved it due to the box-office failure of a period film similar to that called Waterloo. There were also brief discussions of his shelved 1990s Holocaust film Aryan Papers and the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence that he had storyboarded and conceptualized before turning the project to Steven Spielberg as a collaborative project. Spielberg along with other filmmakers also talk about Kubrick’s filmmaking style and the themes that he plays into his work.

Through the camera work of Manuel Harlan and editing of Melanie Viner Cuneo, Jan Harlan creates a film that is quite compelling and insightful as he’s also interviewed since he is Kubrick’s brother-in-law. Harlan allows the film to not just be a tribute to Kubrick but also a look into why people seem to love him just as a person. In the end, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures is an extraordinary documentary about the revered filmmaker. It’s a film that fans of Kubrick must have as a companion piece to all of his films as well as an insight into the man who had been deemed as a taskmaster and such in his work. In the end, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures is a wonderful documentary from Jan Harlan.

Stanley Kubrick Films: Fear and Desire - Killer's Kiss - The Killing - Paths of Glory - Spartacus - Lolita - Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - 2001: A Space Odyssey - A Clockwork Orange - Barry Lyndon - The Shining - Full Metal Jacket - Eyes Wide Shut

Related: The Auteurs #18: Stanley Kubrick

© thevoid99 2012


David said...

Great documentary,have you seen Stanley Kubrick's Box?

BTW,do you remember there is a director quote relay race hosted by me? Now it stopped at some site for a certain reason,I want you to reboot it,because such a good idea should passed to more than a dozen of blogs,right? Are you interested in picking it up?

Here is the entry on my site:

thevoid99 said...

I have heard of Stanley Kubrick's Box and only seen bits of it. I'm waiting for it to come back on TV.

I'm still waiting for someone to tag me in this Director's Quote series. I have a good one.

David said...

What I mean is I want you to do it now,because nobody is gonna tag anybody,it stopped for a certain reason at some point,you know what I mean?

thevoid99 said...

@David-OK then. I've got other things I'm working but I'll get around to it.

Alex Withrow said...

This really is an incredible documentary about an incredible man. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Cruise's restrained narration, it's very... unCruise.

Great review here.

thevoid99 said...

@Alex-Thank you. I like the narration too. This was before Tom Cruise became crazy freak.

Chris said...

I just put together a favorite documentaries list on letterboxd. Somehow I forgot about Life in Pictures, thanks for reminding me about it. Indeed a fascinating doc and as you say, a great companion piece to Kubrick's films.

thevoid99 said...

@Chris-Anyone who is a Kubrick fan should see this. It's definitely something they must have that is a companion piece to all of Kubrick's films.