"If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed."

Happy birthday Stanley Kubrick!

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Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928—March 7, 1999) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, and editor. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Some of his most notable works include Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), and The Shining (1980).

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Kubrick was born in the Bronx, New York to Jacques and Sadie Kubrick. Jacques (Jacob) Kubrick was a doctor and Sadie Kubrick was a housewife. Stanley Kubrick was often absent from elementary school and did not do well in high school. However, he did develop a serious interest in still photography. This led to being chosen as the official school photographer for a year, and by the time he was 16, had already sold a series of photos to Look magazine. For a period, he worked toward a career in freelance photography and supplemented his income by playing chess for quarters. He was hired within a year as a full-time staff photographer.

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Self portrait with showgirl Rosemary Williams 1948. Source.

By the early 1950s, Kubrick had taken an interest in filmmaking. He made his first films, mostly shorts, with the financial help from relatives and friends. His first documentary, Day of the Fight (1951), used what would become his notorious reverse tracking shot. Of his time working on Day of the Fight, he later said, "I was cameraman, director, editor, assistant editor, sound effects man–you name it, I did it. It was invaluable experience, because being forced to do everything myself I gained a sound and comprehensive grasp of all the technical aspects of filmmaking." In 1953, he made his first feature, Fear and Desire. He acted in virtually every role on crew for that film as well.

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He then produced The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957), but it wasn't until he produced Spartacus (1960) at the age of 31 that he achieved substantial recognition. It was the largest film he had ever made, with a cast of over 10,000, and it was, at the time, the most expensive film ever made in America. The film was a critical and popular success, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning four.

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Director Stanley Kubrick and Tony Curtis on the set of Spartacus, source

 

 

 

Then came Lolita (1962), a black comedy adaptation of the novel by the same name. This marked the turn toward surrealist themes.

 

He followed with Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), which was the product of much rumination about the possibilities of a nuclear attack. He felt that his home of New York was a likely target.

 

 

Kubrick then spent five years developing his next film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The film was based on the short story, The Sentinel, by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. The film was notable for its use of special effects, with Kubrick winning a person Oscar for Visual Effects. Some of the most innovative aspects of the film came in how the science of outer space was portrayed through these effects, for example, in its portrayal of artificial intelligence, sound in space, and zero-gravity. The film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards overall.

His next major release came in 1971. A Clockwork Orange depicted teen violence and became hugely controversial. Kubrick himself pulled the film from the theaters in the United Kingdom after a series of copycat crimes took place, though he publicly stated that he didn't think they were a direct result of the film.

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Michael Bates, Malcolm McDowell and director Stanley Kubrick between scenes of 'A Clockwork Orange', source.

He followed with Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

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Kubrick moved to England in the 1960s and gradually become more and more of a recluse. It is said that he rarely went anywhere outside his home or a film set. He kept North American time by working at night and sleeping during the day.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 26 July 2014
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