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Stanley Kubrick is a legendary film maker who I knew little about until yesterday. My brother Clark and one of his friends, local (LA) actor and producer Stephen Butchko, took me to the Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles County Art Museum, LACMA (Thanks Steve).
Kubrick’s amazing career spanned from the 1940’s to the 1990’s during which he created a expansive assortment of art in film. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of his later movies, but after yesterday I certainly have a greater appreciation of the history, and the art of directing and storytelling from a directors POV. Kubrick movies, such as 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) attracted a devoted fan base of hip urbanites. Each film created iconic images that permeated the cultural landscape. Think; Jack Nicholson screaming, “Here’s Johnny!” through a busted-up door. Or, Slim Pickens whooping it up while straddling an atomic bomb; Malcolm McDowell singin’ in the rain during a stretch of extreme violence, and the prehistoric man frolicking by a black monolith. The social and political commentary buried deep in his images is staggering. Clark talks about this all the time, but today I get really get it.
The biggest surprise for me was that Kubrick was the director on one of my childhood, and all time favorites, SPARTACUS. I grew up
watching and crushing on, Kirk Douglas, so to read the history of how that film came to be, how Kubrick was the 2nd director and how it really was Kirk Douglas’s movie, and to read letters written by Douglas to him, was a treat. And that was just the beginning of the exhibit.
So much brilliant writing, social commentary, physiological depth, pushing of the envelope during politically precarious times, and brilliant story telling. I can see why new directors like my brother Clark are such admirers.
There was an overwhelming amount of history at the exhibit. Of particular interest to me were the two movies of Kubrick’s that did not get made, one in particular that dealt with the holocaust, how it depressed him so, he couldn’t finish the film. Interesting stuff to me, as a storyteller, to see how a filmmaker brings the words on the page to life on the screen. Since I’m traveling home from LA to Seattle today, I’ll share some photos for now, my thoughts on those never completed movies, later.
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