Monday, 11 January 2010

Research: Stanley Kubrick

So, I thought before I embarked on the assignment, I would do a little research into directors, and the one I decided to settle on was Kubrick. He was a very famous, and often controversial director, and quite impressively for a director of his reputation, he only directed 12 major films, and another 4 before he really came to peoples attention. Perhaps his most famous are Barry Lyndon, a Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kubrick is very much known for being a perfectionist with his films, and especially with the visual elements. Coming from a photography background myself, I already knew that one of the fastest lenses in the world was made for the film Barry Lyndon, because Kubrick wanted to film using just candlelight, to really keep the atmosphere the same it would have been in the period the film was set. He went to incredible effort to find and adapt these lenses to be able to stay true to the time period, instead of using an additional light source to compensate, showing just how committed and how much of a perfectionist he was.

Obviously there are a number of ways Kubrick set up frames, to stick to one formula for placing objects within his frame would not have led to him becoming the respected director he became. However I have looked for some themes. One recurrent theme is the use of lines as graphic elements in his frames, usually parallel walls, or similar, to help direct the eye. The image below is an example of a few, but there are many more examples throughout his films.

However parallel lines is not just a recurrent theme in the frames above, each contains an air of drama, and tension, largely because the parallel lines are the dominant feature in the frames, and the characters smaller and less significant, the darker corridor leading to the lighter room at the end in the top left image is also quite unsettling to look at, because of the largely dark nature of the frame. It is how Kubrick has used different elements within the frame here to create the feeling he wants to in the viewer.

Kubrick also had another recurrent feature, noted the "Kubrick Stare" on wikipedia. His main characters of his films were largely troubled and dark characters, and he would often have a character shot in which the head was tilted down and the eyes looking towards the viewer. This certainly creates the impression of tension again as you can see from the frames below

This view of a person is somehow less natural for us to see, and it sets off a feeling of a character hiding something, a dark mysterious person. This is largely the sort of film Kubrick made. Most of his films were adaption of novels, or were based on novels. They were almost always controversial. A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn from sale in the UK by Kubrick himself because of the violent nature of the film, and copycat crimes were being carried out in the UK. Another film by Kubrick, Lolita, was about a middle aged man, interested in a 12 year old girl. The novel had already created a large amount of controversy, and Kubrick's toned down version as a film, was also disapproved of by many.

Kubrick also seemed to remove any sort of redemption for characters that was present for the characters in the books he adapted. Anthony Burgess did not like Kubrick's adaption of his novel, A Clockwork Orange, because of this very fact. Stephen King also did not like the adaption of his novel the Shining, branding Kubrick "a man who thinks too much, and feels too little". King actually went on to help make a television series of the shining hoping to replace Kubrick's version of his book.

This seems to be Kubrick through and through. He seemed a man who liked to cause controversy with his films. But he also seemed a perfectionist, very interested with the way a film looked and felt. 2001: A Space Odyssey has large periods without any words being spoken, just displaying beautiful scenes of space and the spaceships available in it, all set to classical music (which also featured heavily in Kubrick films from A Clockwork Orange onwards). He was very much a director who knew how to make each shot work within his film.


No comments:

Post a Comment