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Interviewee Relation to Kubrick
Malcolm McDowell Actor ACO
Ken Adam Production designer Barry Lyndon
Margaret Adams Assistant to SK/Production Manager EWS
Brian Aldiss Writer of AI
Woody Allen Director
Steven Berkoff Actor ACO/Barry Lyndon
Louis C. Blau His attorney for over 40 years
John Calley Former head of WB
Milena Canonero Costume designer ACO/Barry Lyndon
Wendy Carlos Composer - ACO/The Shining
Chris Chase Actress Killer's Kiss/wrote 'How to be a Movie Star'
Sir Arthur C. Clarke Author of 2001
Alex Cox Director
Tom Cruise Actor Eyes Wide Shut
Allen Daviau Cinematographer
Ed DiGulio Cinematographer Barry Lyndon/Inventor
Kier Dullea Actor 2001
Shelley Duvall Actress The Shining
Anthony Frewin Assistant on EWS
Jan Harlan Brother in law - director of this film
James B. Harris Associate in Harris-Kubrick films
Michael Herr Writer - Full Metal Jacket
Philip Hobbs Producer - Full Metal Jacket
Nicole Kidman  Actress Eyes Wide Shut
Barbara Kroner Sister 6 years his junior
Anya Kubrick Daughter
Christiane Kubrick 3rd Wife of 41 years
Katharina Kubrick-Hobbs Oldest daughter/Paintings in EWS
Paul Lashmar Filmmaker
Gyorgi Ligeti  Composer - 2001 + EWS
Steven Marcus Friend
Paul Mazursky Actor - Fear and Desire
Douglas Milsome Cameraman Barry Lyndon, Shining, FMJ
Matthew Modine  Actor Full Metal Jacket
Jack Nicholson Actor The Shining
Tony Palmer Director
Alan Parker Director
Sydney Pollack Actor Eyes Wide Shut
Richard Schickel Director/Critic
Martin Scorsese Director
Terry Semel Film Exec
Alex Singer  Assistant on Day of the Fight, The Killing
Steven Spielberg Friend/Director of AI
Douglas Trumbull Special Effects on 2001
Sir Peter Ustinov Actor
Leon Vitali Assistant/DVD supervisor/Actor - BL/EWS
Marie Windsor Actress The Killing, passed away shortly after

Directed by Jan Harlan


11/22/06 Belfast Telegraph
    Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures shown as part of the 19th Seagate Foyle Film Festival and Jan attended with his sister Christiane who was, of course, the late director's wife. Jan told me there were so many people who got involved in the project that he had to leave a lot on the cutting room floor due to time constraints. There was a Q&A session after the showing in the Strand Multiplex and Jan praised "the lively questions from the many young people who attended". He also wanted me to thank the people of Derry for making them feel so welcome in the city.
    What became clear as we talked was that Jan has the utmost respect for Kubrick and he told me that he was without doubt, "one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. But the old saying, genius is 10 percent talent and 90 percent hard work was very true of Stanley," he said.
    Kubrick, he says, was perhaps the hardest working director in the business which was sometimes frustrating for actors as they had to film scenes countless times until Stanley was satisfied he got the perfect shot. Jack Nicholson put it best when he said: "Stanley gave new meaning to the word meticulous."
    But Jan feels that, "Stanley was simply a perfectionist. He took his time on the films because he wanted them to be the best they could be. Perhaps the one that took the most time was his last, 'Eyes Wide Shut' which he felt was his most accomplished and fully realized work. He was very proud of that film and it was the most enjoyable project for me." Jan feels that the movies "split audiences and critics alike because they were so original. Whenever someone tries to do something so new, it will always cause controversy," he added.
    Kubrick was always tagged as an unbalanced recluse by the press but Jan says that: "He took no notice of the stories. He rarely talked to journalists as he felt the films spoke for themselves. I remember once, when he was asked what his greatest fear was, he said to be stuck in a room of journalists and having to explain what '2001: A Space Odyssey' was about."

6/14/01 - AP


DVD R1, R2, R4 / VHS - PAL + NTSC
Only available with Kubrick Collection 2 Box Set



Scan of the flyer
 There will be showing the film at the Junction on Cambridge, England 9/24/08

The 14th Raindance Film Festival in London, England will show A Life In Pictures hosted by the films director Jan Harlan Mon 10/2/06 - 6:30pm



DVD Front Cover
DVD Back Cover

Book cover

Rating the DVD

    The DVD is a straight forward documentary. There are no extras at all, no commentary - nothing. In this case, that is OK. Just the basics - sound, subtitles and chapter search. There is no superior THX sound or anything, but again it isn't necessary here.

Picture 9
Sound 8.5
Extras 0

Scene Index

  1. Introduction.

  2. Early life.

  3. Photography.

  4. Day of the Fight.

  5. Fear and Desire.

  6. Killer's Kiss.

  7. The Killing.

  8. Paths of Glory.

  9. Audio Interview.

  10. Spartacus.

  11. Lolita.

  12. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

  13. 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  14. Napoleon.

  15. Family Life.

  16. A Clockwork Orange.

  17. Stanley's way.

  18. Barry Lyndon.

  19. The Shining.

  20. Involvement

  21. Full Metal Jacket.

  22. Aryan Papers.

  23. A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

  24. World in his Kitchen.

  25. Eyes Wide Shut.

  26. Legacy.

  27. Montage and End Credits.

My Summary

    In the "Early Life" section there are home movies of Stanley from 1938. He is at home with his sister, playing the piano, exercising or riding his tricycle in the park. Even then you can tell it is him as the face is the same and is a real treat to see.
    The next section goes into how in high school Kubrick became very interested in photography and that a picture he took of a newspaper vendor who was distraught over the death of President Roosevelt not only made him some money, he gave him a job. At 17 he dropped out of high school to work for Look Magazine as a staff photographer, the youngest one in their history. Then begins a montage of many rare photo spreads from the magazine from the late 40s and early 50s that Kubrick took. They are all black and white and cover many areas of humanity in New York  including jazz clubs.
    Soon, he grew board with just photography and wanted  to do something more. He wanted to make a film. He took his salary and began to hustle chess, as he was quite good, in the parks of New York City to try to make a little money to make a film. This wasn't going to cover all his fees, so he borrowed from his father and friends. The subject was to be another one of Kubrick's passions - boxing. The film was a short documentary called "The Day of the Fight" which would show boxers preparing for a fight that day and including the fight itself. He was able to sell the film and when was all said and done, he made $1000 from it, not enough to finance any more films. Alex Singer talks about the film that he helped Kubrick make. He takes credit for getting the footage of the knockout as Kubrick was reloading his camera at the time.
    He was able to film a few other short films and since he didn't consider them his own, didn't take credit for them. We know of "The Flying Padre" and he later admitted to "The Seafarers" which was lost for over 40 years though there could be more. Kubrick realized that he would have to make a feature film to really make some money.
    The film was the low budget "Fear and Desire" which was again self financed for around $30,000. The film is infamous among Kubrick fans as the one they've never seen. The reason is that after it was shown and made a modest amount of money, Kubrick decided never to show it again because he was embarrassed by it. Those who have seen it admit that the short black and white film isn't really that good and we aren't missing anything.
    Kubrick's next film was his first true studio film - "Killer's Kiss", even though it was still low budget and he was the new kid on the block. This film also is about a boxer. 
    The Killing was based on a crime novel and was very suspenseful and won admiration at its' unique story. The film was shown out of order from many different POVs and didn't have a happy ending. They tell a story how the famous cinematography, Lucien Ballard, was working on the film. Kubrick has the first shot set up where the camera follows the actors on a track from room to room, going past a wall. Kubrick told him how he wanted the camera and the lens he wanted. When time game for the shot, it wasn't set up how he asked. After all, why did he have to listen to this "new kid on the block." Kubrick told him in front of everyone "You either do the setup like I said, or get off my film." And he did it! Plus, Kubrick was right about the lens in the first place as he had a knack for it from his photography days.
    Paths of Glory brought international attention because such a young director, age 28, made this hard hitting war film. Because the French are portrayed in a bad light, the film was banned in France for decades. Unfortunately the star, Kirk Douglas, was not interviewed for the film, probably because of his health.
    The next part is an all too short clip of a very early radio interview Kubrick gave in New York in 1958 for Paths of Glory. He speaks very clearly, his Brooklyn accent isn't noticeable like it is later in life.
    Next up is Spartacus - Kubrick's first color film and the only one that he truly wasn't in control of. The original director, Anthony Mann, walked off - feeling he had no control over what was essentially a Kirk Douglas film. In a tight place, Douglas recommended Kubrick, who he was so impressed with on Paths of Glory. He asked Kubrick and he accepted the challenge of a big budget star loaded film. If Douglas thought he could control Kubrick, he was very wrong. Kubrick did the best he could to set it up as his picture, including hiring Jean Simmons as Varnia. But they had already filmed a week and it was already written, he didn't have script control and never felt it was his film and wanted his name off it. After Spartacus he vowed never to make another film he wasn't completely in control of. Regardless he made a deep, dark grand film that he should've been proud of.
    His next film would be the immensely controversial 1955 book by Russian author Vladimir Nabokov. The book goes into the heavily taboo topic of pedophilia and the big tagline for the film was "How did they make a film out of Lolita?" The simple answer was they didn't. Kubrick had Nabokov write a different tamer version specifically for the film. There is nothing even close to sex, just Sue Lyon in a bikini. The Catholics banned and picketed the film and the studio would let no one under 18 n to see it. So the star of the film, Sue Lyon, wasn't even allowed in to see it! This was Kubrick's first time working with Peter Sellers which he really enjoyed.
    He would go from one controversy to another with his next project - Dr. Strangelove. He originally set out to make the definitive cold war, nuclear war film. Somewhere along the way it was decided to change it to a comedy with help from co-author Terry Southern. The studio was reluctant until Kubrick brought Peter Sellers on board to play not one role - but four! He eventually dropped a role of a Texan bombardier on the plane because he fell out of the plane and broke his leg declaring he was never going back up on the bomber set. The role instead went to Slim Pickins who it was revealed became the only star to go on the talk show circuit to promote the film and it went over very well. Like Lolita, there was protest at the theaters. How could you make fun of war?
    Ironically his next film would bring him praise from the same groups that protested against him six years earlier. The film was 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Catholics loved it because to them it was proof that god existed. Kubrick accepted their award, though he didn't plan or really film what they said. It would be an epic production and an innovation in Science-Fiction film and effects. It would be the first sci-fi film that really looked and felt like the future and didn't have some invading alien or monster. It also changed the face of film by having a non linear story that extended across billions of years. There is another all to short sequence with behind the scenes footage of Kubrick on the set and the massive space wheel. 
    Many people were perplexed with the film on it's release and Kubrick wound up cutting around 15 minutes of scientists talking about the future in the beginning. Even so it looked like the film was going to be a huge financial disaster as people didn't like it, didn't understand and were staying away in droves. Jack Nicholson related that Kubrick told him 247 people walked out of the corporate screening and that you can bet he counted them all! Then something changed, the hippies started going and camping out on the floor of theaters. A new poster came out declaring it "The ultimate trip." It became an event for young people, especially enticing was a little weed and the end sequence and the color spectrum. Before the new it the film broke even and began to turn a decent profit.
    Kubrick always had a fascination with Napoleon and wanted to do a major epic on him for his next film. The script was written and there was a year and a half of pre-production done on it - scouting, pictures, research, etc. Unfortunately for Kubrick someone beat him to the punch. Another Napoleon film came out and totally bombed. Now, no studio would touch his script and reluctantly he was forced to abandon it. He turned to a little book that Terry Southern gave him to read the summer before - "A Clockwork Orange."
    The section called "Family Life" is another rare look at the man behind the image. There are more rare home movies show Kubrick with his three daughters with Kubrick behind the camera in some times. When he tells his daughter Anya that he is probably the most even tempered person she replies "Ha!" Then she comments as an adult that she is surprised at how brash she was. 
    The Clockwork Orange section shows many, many still photos that have never been seen before. Like Malcolm and Kubrick lounging on the set. The only one interviewed from the film during this section is Malcolm. He is in a house, presumably his and is sporting a white beard. He related the story about how he spent two weeks recording the narration at Kubrick's house. During breaks they would play ping pong and Malcolm always won. Later, his agent told him that Kubrick never paid him for the narration. He told the agent he would talk to Kubrick since he was going to his house. When Malcolm asked about his not getting paid for the two weeks Stanley pulled out a ruler, measured and said, "I'll pay you for one week, the other was ping pong!"
    Barry Lyndon was Kubrick's answer to Napoleon. Since he couldn't get that epic period piece filmed he made this one. Notably absent is comments from the films' star Ryan O' Neal. This is because he hates Kubrick for whatever reason and refused to participate. There is talk of Kubrick's revolutionary filmmaking by using candles to light all the night scenes - no artificial light was used. This made the film look almost like a documentary.
    Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall speak about The Shining. Shelly reveals that she really came to hate Kubrick because of the way he treated her, but eventually came to forgive him over time and that it worked for the film. Jack reveals that he got along really well with Kubrick and it was his idea to add the scenes of him throwing the tennis ball around in the hotel because that was something he did in his personal life. 
    In the Involvement section there is a funny scene with Stanley's daughter Katharina. Kubrick was a big animal lover and kept many on his property. He once gave her a 15 page set of instructions to care for two cats she was watching and she read #37 on the list. It is an overly involved explanation on what to do if they fight. Other colleagues tell how kind Stanley was to anyone who was sick, but expected you to move if you weren't.
   The Full Metal Jacket section also shows off some rare footage from the set. The scene is near the end when the Animal Mother storms the town and there are tons of gunshots and explosions and Kubrick turns to the camera and says, "It looked like something didn't it?" Matthew Modine explains how he was having trouble finding his character. One day he was just wandering around the set depressed because he felt like he failed Kubrick because he didn't know what he wanted. Suddenly a jeep pulled up and it was Kubrick. He asked him what was wrong and he told him. Kubrick was surprised and told him not to worry about it and talked him through it. 
    Kubrick started on the film in 1980, but didn't finish until 1987. By this time Platoon and other Vietnam films came out which hurt FMJ at the box office.
    The Aryan Papers was another unrealized Kubrick film. It was a Nazi Germany story involving the escape of Jews from the country, but while in preparation once again he was beaten to the punch. This time it was his friend Stephen Spielberg with his 'Schindler's List'. He felt this story was to close to his idea for Papers, so he shelved it.
    Another project he worked on and off for years was AI. Because of his death this was another film he wouldn't direct. This was to be his next project, but he struggled with the story and the main character. He wanted to build an actual robot, but that turned out to be an ugly disaster. When "Jurassic Park' was released in 1993 he got the idea that it could be possible to create a computer generated character instead of a robotic one. He met with ILM for some tests, but since he didn't have a complete story he put it on the back burner. Stephen Spielberg says eventually he gave up and decided to let him direct and Kubrick would produce it. Spielberg was blown away and initially turned him down because he felt it was Stanley's best story. Eventually Spielberg changed his mind and Kubrick went to another project.
    The "World in his Kitchen" section deals with many of the rumors surrounding Kubrick. Because he hadn't given an interview in the last 10 years, journalists filled in their own blanks and he said nothing. "Loon, recluse, crazy, wouldn't drive above 30 mph" and on an on. His family shoots them all down and his daughter Anya explains that Stanley was going to do interviews for Eyes Wide Shut, so he never got a chance to "defend" himself.
    The next project would be his last, 'Eyes Wide Shut'. Nicholson explains the film is about marriage and unfaithfulness. Kubrick was fascinated with infidelity since he was happily married. His wife reveals he was always interested when friends of theirs divorced and that is why the story appealed to him. The film was shrouded in secrecy except of one thing - the length of time it took. The press was all over it that it took almost 2 years to film and kept star Tom Cruise there the whole time. There were no complaints from his stars because they wanted to be there so much and were willing to give everything to make it happen.
    The final section discusses his legacy and influence with quotes by many famous directors, his wife and actors he worked with. Jack Nicholson says he got along very well with Kubrick over the years and had always talked about working with him again, but as we know this was never to be. Jan Harlan believes the burden of Eyes Wide Shut leaving him caused him to be so happy that it changed his body and he died a week later. Martin Scorsese says that people wish Kubrick made more films, but he feels he made enough. There is so much there in the 12 films that they hold up to endless viewings. Christiane sums up Stanley in a statement he gave friends as to how he was doing, "I'm still fooling them."

My Review

    The film was made by Jan Harlan who was not only Kubrick's brother-in-law, but also his assistant going all the way back to ACO. If there was anyone who is entitled to make this film, it is this man. It starts out with many pictures and home movies never before seen making it a treat on so many levels. There are many interviews with friends, family and collaborators spaced throughout and is narrated by Tom Cruise. Beautiful classical music plays throughout.
    This is a film I have been waiting most of my life for. There had never been an official Kubrick documentary and the only thing that came close was The Invisible Man which was well done, but seemed to have an agenda. Kubrick always was very private so any pictures and factual information were scarce. This film changes all of that. It was made with the full cooperation of his family and was even made by a family member. The DVD is only available in the 2nd Kubrick Collection and is the ultimate bonus for picking up the set.
    The early years home movies are priceless, something we never would have seen during Kubrick's lifetime. Also the shots from Look magazine are great because those too are very, very hard to find. Every film is covered and even the three he didn't make were covered.
    Of course I am mainly interested in the ACO section. I would've liked to have seen more Malcolm and more interviews from the cast. I know a great many have passed on, but Adrienne Corri and Miriam Karlin are alive. Archival footage from deceased actors would also have been fine. But there is a ton of still photos from the set that have never been released before that were amazing to see. Especially candid shots of Malcolm and Stanley off camera.
    Kubrick's family was great and it was a joy to hear them describe and tell stories about Kubrick. I would've like to hear more of the cat instructions. Even better would've been to hide the complete text of them as an Easter egg on the DVD. It was also good to hear famous directors talk about Kubrick in the same way we might - as fans of his work.
    The film is beautifully put together and the soundtrack is excellent. Tom Cruise's narration isn't on there too much, so it didn't bother me. My only complaint is probably what every director wants to here - MORE! The film is 142 minutes and I easily could've watched for another couple hours. More interviews, more interviewees, more home footage - more more more !! There were all too small clips of behind the scenes footage of 2001 and Full Metal Jacket. I would love to see and hour or more of each. Jan Harlan wanted to add another 30 minutes of the 2001 footage, but Warner Bros. turned him down. Someday I hope some behind the scenes footage turns up for FMJ that Vivian recorded, but it doesn't seem likely.
    It is a very poignant and touching film and necessary film. Hopefully it will clear up many of the myths and gossip about the man. An ordinary man who was an extraordinary artist.  Thank you Mr. Harlan for making it and thanks to Stanley's family for sharing all the rare footage and stills. And thank you Mr. Kubrick for being who you were and for sharing your artistic vision with the world, especially ACO which means so much to me. I took a half a point off for not enough coverage of ACO. There should've been more interviews with surviving cast members and crew like R. Lee Ermey, Ryan O'Neal, etc.

Rating 9.75/10

This page 2001-10 by Alex for www.MaclolmMcDowell.net