|If you’ve read my articles, you’ve probably noticed that I tend to pick out particular directors and cite them as the genesis of incredible vision on most movies.
In their profession, they generally see the movie through production from A to the most detailed Z.
When I find a director whose films I grow to love, I will follow their every move as to what projects they are working on, filming or wrapping up post-production work on.
Then, I’ll wait anxiously for their new films to come out to see if they’re still on top of their game.
A few of my favorites are Wes Anderson, David Fincher, and Martin Scorcese, but the greatest director of all time, and my personal favorite, is Stanley Kubrick. I’m not alone when I make this statement.
His films have been constantly cited as some of the greatest and most popular movies ever made.
From “Spartacus,” to “The Shining,” to my all time favorite “Barry Lyndon,” Kubrick’s vision and talent comes directly out of the screen.
Born in New York City in 1928, Kubrick grew up as a very intelligent but mediocre student. When he was 13, his father gave him a camera in a simple gift that would change the world of American film forever.
Quickly Kubrick developed a love for shooting still photography, which at the age of 17 would earn him a job as a photographer for Look magazine.
His obsession with cameras led him to start making short films in the early ’50s, building his budgets by hustling chess games in New York.
His films gained him some attention in Hollywood and allowed him to direct Kirk Douglas in “Paths of Glory,” an antiwar film set during World War I. The film was a critical success, and it led Douglas to give Kubrick the job of directing “Spartacus,” which would change how he directed for the rest of his life.
In all of his films, the director took complete control over every aspect of production.
It has been noted by film historians that the cinematographer on the film, Russell Metty, began complaining that Kubrick would insist on calling the shots for all of the lighting and photography on set.
Kubrick dismissed Metty’s grumblings and told him to sit around and do nothing.
He complied and Metty ended up winning the Academy Award for Cinematography later that year.
While working on the film, Douglas would use his incredible star power to boss Kubrick around on set and would often go to the studio to press his agenda upon the film.
After finishing the movie, Kubrick was so sick of Hollywood that he moved to England, where he lived for the rest of his life.
The move would allow him to both shoot films less than an hour away from his estate in Hertfordshire and also to maintain a distance away from the nagging chins in Hollywood.
Kubrick went on to make “Lolita,” a story about a middle-aged college professor who falls in love with a 14-year-old girl, based on the book by Vladimir Nabokov.
Even though the director toned down the sexuality of the book, the film managed to a gain controversial status with the ratings board.
It would not be the last time one of his films generated controversy.
In fact, it followed Kubrick around for the rest of his life. His critics regularly called him a psychopath, a control freak, a recluse and a madman.
After making “A Clockwork Orange,” a film about a gang of insane kids who go around getting into, what they call, “The Ultra Violent,” a number of copycat teenagers were caught and the press placed the blame directly upon Kubrick.
They didn’t do the same to the author of the book the film was based on.
This doesn’t mean Kubrick was an easy person to get along with.
His sense of perfection was so great that he regularly demanded a gigantic amount of takes from his actors. He felt one scene in “The Shining” needed more than 100 takes until it was good enough.
His last film, “Eyes Wide Shut,” is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest film production ever made, with shooting running continuously over more than two years.
Although he was obsessed with perfection and one of the most demanding directors in the history of film, his body of work is unparalleled.
He could make any type of film, from comedies like the hilarious “Dr. Strangelove,” thrillers like “The Shining,” and futuristic dramas like “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Years back, my parents bought me the complete DVD set of his films, and I sat down to watch every one.
While I have my favorites, they are all amazingly incredible and that is very rare for anyone in film history, now or then.