An Odyssey of Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick's Greatest Masterpieces
2001: A Space Odyssey
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Full Metal Jacket
A Clockwork Orange
Over the course of the month, I have been trying, and failing, to gather my thoughts about Stanley Kubrick's films. He's a big filmmaker with big ideas. It feels as if he puts the entire world into his film - every emotion, every thought, every action is depicted in one of his epics. What I have come to accept is that isn't impossible to analyze the experience of a Kubrick film in less than 900 words. (Perhaps Kubrick was a bit ambitious for the first film club...)
Throughout the course of the month, I have been watching - well, more like experiencing - Kubrick's films. I have been grappling with the themes his films presents, with the messages he is trying to relate through his perfectly meticulous pictures. Being as I'm simply not clever enough to fully understand Kubrick on my own, I began doing some research.
My main source of research came from a documentary chronicling the work and life of Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures reflected on each of Kubrick's film, from his first to his last, with interviews from the people who were a part of Kubrick's very limited circle of collaborators. The documentary does a fantastic job of detailing the superb work of Kubrick, all the while reflecting on who he was as a person and an artist.
But what stuck with me after finishing this documentary was something director Steven Spielberg said about Kubrick. He said, "as a filmmaker, for me, [Kubrick] was a conceptual illustrator of the human condition." And that's it! That's what ties all of these films together, the thread connecting on Kubrick film to the next. Underneath the stunning visuals and the meticulous construction and the "crass" material, a Kubrick film reflects back on humanity. It's not humanity viewed with rose colored glasses. It's humanity raw and exposed. It's a look at all that is wrong with the world and all that is wrong with humanity.
Yet, I think Kubrick intended for his films to seen as a warning, as a viewfinder for humans to see what is wrong with our species and what we need to do to fix it. John Calley, the former President of Warner Bros., said that Kubrick "was one of the people that sort of knew what was wrong with the world, in a weird way, and was able to turn that into art. He just didn't grouse about it or bitch or write lousy editorials. He converted it into something that was amazing and important for us as a species." Kubrick takes fundamental human problems and depicts them in his films. In Barry Lyndon, he shows what becomes of a man obsessed with material passions and status. In Full Metal Jacket, he shows the destruction of the individual during war. In A Clockwork Orange, he shows how easily youth can be broken by those with authority. But he doesn't tell the audience how to fix the problem, nor does he chastise his audience for perpetuating the problem. He simply makes his audience witness humanities flaws and forces them to decide for themselves how to solve it. We're the creators of the human condition, he's just the illustrator.
Watching a Kubrick film is truly experiencing cinema. Stanley Kubrick completely redefined the term "cinematic," leaving every audience member in awe of the atmosphere, tone, and style of his films. Watching a Kubrick film is a full sensory experience. He captures the entire world in his films, and he forces you to see the world as it rather than how you think it should be. You finish a Kubrick film not quite knowing what you watched, but knowing it was groundbreaking and immaculate.
Part I of An Odyssey of Kubrick | The Film Club