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March 1999

Stanley Kubrick, 1928 - 1999

Film director Stanley Kubrick died at the age of 70 on Sunday, March 7th, at his Hertfordshire home north of London. Kubrick, one of the true auteurs of the film world, is known as the director and co-screenwriter, with Arthur C. Clarke, of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the film commonly regarded as the greatest serious SF film of all time. Kubrick also directed two other major SF films: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963) and A Clockwork Orange (1971). All three films were ranked among the top 100 in last year's list by the American Film Institute: 2001 at 22nd place; Strangelove at 26th place; and Clockwork at 46th.

His other films included an adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Shining in 1980; Kubrick was remarkable among major film directors for his attention to SF and fantasy subjects. His other major films included Paths of Glory (1957) with Kirk Douglas; Spartacus (1960) with Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier; Lolita (1962) with James Mason; Barry Lyndon (1975) with Ryan O'Neal; and Full Metal Jacket (1987) with Matthew Modine. Kubrick was an Academy Award nominee many times: as director and writer for Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon. All of these except 2001 were also Best Picture nominees. His only win was for 2001's visual effects.

A perfectionist filmmaker if there ever was one, Kubrick's work amounted to only a dozen films, and the intervals between his films grew longer and longer. His last (13th) film, Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, is scheduled for release in July 1999. For years Kubrick was rumored to have been working on another SF project, AI, a project reportedly set aside in the early 1990s because Kubrick felt the required visuals were beyond what special effects could then accomplish.

(Mon 8 Mar 99)

Kubrick Links

• 10 March
Patrick Goldstein's ''The Kubrick Mystique'' in the Los Angeles Times quotes Harlan Ellison:

Los Angeles writer Harlan Ellison recalled seeing "Paths of Glory," Kubrick's antiwar film in 1958 when he was a soldier stationed in Kentucky. When the lights came back up after the screening, Ellison noticed that a colonel seated in front of him was in tears. The officer ripped the eagle from his uniform lapel and threw it on the ground.

"That is the effect that Kubrick's films have. 'Paths of Glory,' which I think is his greatest film, is probably the finest antiwar movie ever made," Ellison said. "Most directors are lemmings. . . . Kubrick was a courageous man. Apart from his brilliance and expertise, he had a gift of vision."

• 9 March
This article in Tuesday's New York Times about Eyes Wide Shut says that Kubrick told a friend it was his best film yet.

Slate's International Papers contrasts attitudes about Kubrick in Britain, Italy, France, Germany.

Salon's appreciation by Michael Sragow is long and not uncritical.

Mr. Showbiz's retrospective includes rated appraisals of Kubrick's 9 principal films from Paths of Glory to Full Metal Jacket.

• 8 March
Slates Culturebox includes appreciations by David Edelstein and Alex Ross, who writes

Kubrick the Cold ... is a cliché that ... now serves as a comfy sofa for those who don't want to deal with Kubrick's ambition. Certainly, he was not a warm, cuddly director, but what great director ever has been? ... The question is: What is art supposed to do for us? Should it make us feel better about our lives, show us friendly mirrors? In that case, Kubrick was no good. But if art is supposed to open up strange vistas, make us think twice about the ordinary, then Kubrick was a big deal.

New York Times obit

• 7 March
CNN's article about Kubrick's death includes a number of links to relevant sites on the web, including one that lists Kubrick references in The Simpsons.

(Wed 10 Mar 99)


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