Kubrick by Kubrick Review – The Genius of Stanley Kubrick Revealed

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Kubrick by Kubrick, from ARTE and Telemark, presents the life and times of Stanley Kubrick led by the French Film Critic and historian Michel Ciment, and told by those who knew him and worked with him.

The film begins with an introduction of the master filmmaker followed quickly with media announcements of his death in 1999, which provides an overview of his life.

Through Ciment, internationally known for being expert on Stanley Kubrick and our guide through this documentary, we have access to a series of rare interviews that occurred during their thirty-year friendship.

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Following Kubrick’s career, the camera pans 13 movie posters, all hung in an animated room where each piece of furniture represents a piece of the life, and times and our starting point as we begin the walk through his career.

As it is noted, early, his films have stood the test of time and are still considered the best of their genres, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, A Clock Work Orange, Space Oddity, Eyes Wide Shut.

Kubrick by Kubrick dissects his own moviemaking talent and skills. The film weaves together stills of the auteur, as he discusses his moviemaking process. With the period piece Barry Lyndon, he explains the importance of exactness and using the surroundings to strengthen the visuals.

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Kubrick, as the talent explained, was known to be the consummate perfectionist which at times caused the actor’s uncontrollable anguish. Sterling Hayden, who played Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb explained that after fifty takes, which was common with Kubrick, he was bombing. Then he goes on to explain, Kubrick began “pick-ups” line by line delivery, and finally as we see in the film it played well. Hayden explained it was grueling to capture.

Shelly Duvall, who played opposite Jack Nicholson in The Shining, explained she has never had more than 15 takes before and Kubrick pushed her to the limits. She also explained that by fifty takes the talent “knew the scene like the back of your hand” and even through the process followed a peaks and valleys style of delivery it “picked up again.” The Shining, it appears was one of the first films that he used the teleprompter, as Jack Nicolson explains, “Stanley had the teleprompter and could see when it was right.”

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Malcom McDowell, who appeared in A Clockwork Orange, which took seven months to shoot, also appeared in interviews speaking of Kubrick and his trust in the talent.

Eyes Wide Shut, filmed in 1999, which took five years to make, would be Kubrick’s last. Tom Cruise also appears in the documentary commenting on the director and the shocking news of his death.

Meeting Kurbick now, posthumously through his films and interviews, he seemed to have a glimpse of a future which was impossible to even consider at the time. A self-contained style where his estate outside London became his entire base of operations. No commute, no travel to far off locales for seven months or more, Kubrick filmed almost entirely, even mirroring the Vietnam War, in Full Metal Jacket, just outside his London home.

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Screened at the Denver Film Festival, Kubrick on Kubrick, simply by the evidence of his enduring films, leaves an indelible mark as a director, a filmmaker on the film industry. The documentary provides the viewers an all access pass through the making of these important cinematic masterpieces.

While he is among the most scrutinized filmmakers that ever lived, the chance to hear his own words was rare, until now. Combined with extraordinary resources that Kubrick’s family allowed us to use, the film draws an intimate portrait of one of the most recognized, but yet unheard, filmmaker of all times. 

Kubrick by Kubrick is screening at the Denver Film Festival until November 8, 2020 and can be seen via this link.


Year - 2020

Runtime - 73 minutes

Language - English

Country - France/USA

Director - Gregory Monro

Screenwriter - Gregrory Monro

Producer - Martin Laurent, Jeremy Zelnik

Cast - Stanley Kubrick, Michel Ciment, Malcom McDowell, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Sterling Hayden, Vincent D'onofrio.

Cinematographer - Radosław Ładczuk

Editor - Philippe Baillon

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