STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES
In the last two decades or so of his life, a great mystique built up around Kubrick. People became fascinated with his reputation as an exacting control freak who once took 160 takes of a shot; his reclusiveness and stories of firing a shotgun as interlopers on his property; journalistic speculations that he was half-mad in his seclusion; to the utter secrecy under which he conducted his shoots and the rumour mills and wild stories that built up around his projects the amount of speculation and wild stories that circulated around Eyes Wide Shut on online Hollywood rumour sites at the time was something that was only rivalled by the various Star Wars sequels.
Kubrick died in March 1999. Not long after came Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, a documentary that serves as both tribute to his work and one that seeks to penetrate the veil of mystery surrounding Kubrick. What is notable about the documentary is the calibre of interviewees that it arraigns top-flight actors such as Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Jack Nicholson and directors like Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Tom Cruise even narrates the film. Director Jan Harlan also manages to interview Kubricks wife Christiane, daughters Anya and Katharina and sister Barbara Kroner, as well as obtain access to film footage from Kubricks childhood. If you contrast this to John Baxters excellent book Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (1997), which interviewed none of these subjects and had to rely on secondary source material, the film is notable for its being able to go inside the places that the normally ultra-reclusive Kubrick inhabited to even film inside the kitchen of his estate. The difference of course is that director Jan Harlan is Kubricks brother-in-law (and also worked as Executive Producer on all of Kubricks films since Barry Lyndon).
There is maybe a total of a minute-and-a-half in the film where we actually hear Kubricks voice in the film. Nevertheless, the intensity of Kubricks intelligence, vision and demand for every aspect of control exerts itself over the documentary in posthumity as much as it did in any of his films. There is a fascinating picture that emerges of Kubrick a driven mind that every single interviewee speaks in admiration of, yet someone who blossomed into an absolute control freak in pursuit of his vision and of whom everyone equally says was difficult to work with. There is a brief scene where we see him bullying Shelley Duval on the set of The Shining. Interviewed, she candidly notes: For a person so charming and likable, even lovable, he could do some pretty cruel things. Yet she sums the great ambiguity that all those that worked with Kubrick: I wouldnt trade the experience for anything. Why? Because of Stanley. But I wouldnt want to go through it again. There are some fascinating glimpses of Kubricks obsessiveness we get readings from a fifteen page memo he left in regard to the care of his animals when he went away on a trip, or his vet telling how Kubrick was concerned about his cats excessive drinking and ended up measuring the number of laps the cat made and then tried to calculate the amount of water drunken per lap.
There are striking and honest glimpses into peoples relations with Kubrick particularly so Malcolm McDowells speaking of his friendship with Kubrick during A Clockwork Orange and how sad he felt at suddenly being cut off when filming ended. We also get a glimpse of how Kubrick was regretted the way his obsessiveness prevented him from making more films and some fascinatingly brief glimpses into uncompleted Kubrick projects his planned Napoleon project in the early 1970s, The Aryan Papers about the Holocaust, and of course A.I., including Steven Spielberg on how Kubrick came to hand the project over to him.
Full film available online here:-