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Cinema and Media Studies Stanley Kubrick
by
Robert Kolker

Introduction

Stanley Kubrick (b. 1928–d. 1999) was a singular American filmmaker, an artist who, starting in the 1960s, lived in England, enjoying a quiet and secluded life more suitable to a novelist than the noisy celebrity world of Hollywood. He worked slowly and deliberately, making only twelve full-length films (and three early documentaries) during his creative lifetime. He started his career as a photographer, and the well-composed image, the intense gaze, and the careful play of light and shadow mark all of his work. His cinematic narratives are complex meditations on the failure of human agency. The characters in his films struggle against devices, plans, institutions, and even their own personalities, which they have erected and then left to control and ultimately ruin them. The films are so complex and multilayered that they require multiple viewings to unravel their intricate insights. This complexity has led to an ever-expanding scholarly literature on Kubrick and his films. Books and articles range from production histories to Freudian analyses to linguistic and political studies. There is a growing literature on Kubrick’s use of music. The following bibliography emphasizes more recent works and expanded editions of older books, though important older works are included. Film reviews and interviews have been omitted, except when the latter are included in collections. Likewise, books or articles with only passing reference to Kubrick’s films are not included.

Reference Works

Coyle 1980 covers the Kubrick literature up until the late 1970s.

  • Coyle, Wallace. Stanley Kubrick: A Guide to References and Resources. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980.

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    Though dated, this remains a useful handbook for Kubrick’s films through The Shining (1980). The author provides a biographical essay, an overview of the critical responses to the film, and full cast and credits. There are many film reviews, and these are valuable for anyone wanting to do a reception history of the films.

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Biographies

Both full-length biographies were written before the Kubrick archives were publicly available, and they are therefore dependent on interviews with people who worked with Kubrick and on publicly available records. Unfortunately, neither biography is written with the literary or critical depth that an artist of Kubrick’s stature requires. Baxter 1997 and LoBrutto 1999 can therefore be considered biographical works rather than fully formed biographies. A nice distinction, but a necessary one. Kubrick 2002 is largely made up of photographs.

Memoirs

Two of Kubrick’s collaborators have written about their working experience with the director. Raphael 1999 is a controversial and negative portrait by a screenwriter, and it prompted Michael Herr to write a response (Herr 2000).

  • Herr, Michael. Kubrick. New York: Grove, 2000.

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    An antidote to Frederic Raphael’s memoir by the author of Dispatches and the co-screenwriter of Full Metal Jacket. Herr hardly glosses over the director’s peculiarities, but he manages to turn them into the portrait of an engaging, if trying, personality. “The way I see him, essentially, he was an artist to his fingertips, and he needed a lot of cover, and a lot of control.”

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  • Raphael, Frederic. Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick. New York: Ballantine, 1999.

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    In the tradition of the complaining screenwriter, Raphael writes about his less-than-happy time with Kubrick in preparing an initial script of Eyes Wide Shut, which he apparently disapproved of from the beginning.

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Archival Collections

Along with two collections of Kubrick-made images (Castle 2004 and Crone 2005), included here is Paletz 2007, a review essay that goes beyond discussion of the The Stanley Kubrick Archive (Castle 2004) to an insight of Kubrick’s own aesthetic.

  • Castle, Alison, ed. The Stanley Kubrick Archive. Cologne: Taschen, 2004.

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    Fine reproductions and production stills from all of Kubrick’s films. Much of the annotation is written by Kubrick’s friend Gene D. Phillips, along with essays by Michel Ciment and others, including various interviews of and a few essays by the director himself. The commentaries are not scholarly, but as a hint of what the actual Kubrick archives contain, the book is a great resource.

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  • Crone, Rainer. Stanley Kubrick, Drama & Shadows: Photographs, 1945–1950. London and New York: Phaidon, 2005.

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    An invaluable collection of Kubrick’s early still photographs, arranged by date and subject matter and with useful commentaries for each grouping.

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  • Paletz, Gabriel M. “The Stanley Kubrick Archives (review).” The Moving Image 7.1 (2007): 103–107.

    DOI: 10.1353/mov.2007.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ostensibly a review of Castle 2004, the author goes on to show that Kubrick was himself an archivist. From his systematic method of research, through the thematics of his films, Kubrick carefully arranged and ordered his ideas and material.

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Adaptations

From The Killing (1956) forward, all of Kubrick’s films were adapted from literary sources. Jenkins 1997 is the one work devoted exclusively to Kubrick’s adaptation techniques

  • Jenkins, Greg. Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation: Three Novels, Three Films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997.

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    “To engage with cinema is to ponder adaptation,” writes the author. Jenkins examines Lolita, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket. He moves through description and analysis in his comparisons of the films and their sources, stressing how Kubrick evolves the literary material into the cinematic.

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Books and Articles

This section includes books and articles that cover all or many of Kubrick’s films, including both single-author works and edited collections.

Single-Author Works

Included here are major scholarly studies that encompass the body of the director’s work. Ciment 2001 is largely a picture book with commentary. Cocks 2004 focuses on what the author sees as the ghost of the Holocaust in Kubrick’s films. Kagan 2000 provides a useful primer, while Falsetto 2001, Mainar 1999, Naramore 2007, Nelson 2000, and Sperb 2006 provide various interpretive strategies. Walker, et al. 1999 concentrates on visual analysis.

  • Ciment, Michel. Kubrick: The Definitive Edition. Translated by Gilbert Adair and Robert Bononno. New York: Faber and Faber, 2001.

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    An update of a 1980 book that includes excellent frame enlargements and production stills, Ciment’s commentaries on the films, and a number of old and new interviews with Kubrick and those who worked with him. There is biographical information, an annotated filmography, and a bibliography that is particularly useful for its inclusion of French and British sources.

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  • Cocks, Geoffrey. The Wolf at the Door: Stanley Kubrick, History, and the Holocaust. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

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    An intense and minute reading of the films, emphasizing Kubrick’s Jewishness and the ways in which his films reflect the Holocaust.

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  • Falsetto, Mario. Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Analysis. 2d ed. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001.

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    “Descriptive and interpretive” analyses of the films, focusing on their narrative and “temporal and spatial strategies.” Falsetto examines the most minute elements of the films, down to shot lengths. He goes so far as to examine apparent flaws in individual shots. The appendix breaks up the films into their significant “units,” and some of the analyses are based on this segmentation.

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  • Kagan, Norman. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. 3d ed. New York: Continuum, 2000.

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    One of the first book-length studies of Kubrick’s films (first published in 1972), the third edition brings the work up to date. Kagan provides plot summaries and thematic analyses. This is an excellent primer.

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  • Mainar, Luis M. García. Narrative and Stylistic Patterns in the Films of Stanley Kubrick. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 1999.

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    In an attempt to connect formal analysis with postmodern interpretation, the author draws on a number of theorists, from David Bordwell to Jacques Derrida, in an analysis that looks closely at the formal properties of Kubrick’s films and interprets them based on structural, poststructural, and deconstructionist models.

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  • Naremore, James. On Kubrick. London: British Film Institute, 2007.

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    One of the best full-length studies. Naremore correctly sees Kubrick as the last high-modernist artist, deeply indebted to Freud and practicing a vision that Naremore describes as a version of the “grotesque.” He provides strong readings of the films, including a deeply felt analysis of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.

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  • Nelson, Thomas Allen. Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist’s Maze. New and expanded ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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    Long a standard text in Kubrick studies, Nelson moves film by film with analyses both detailed and astute, visual and thematic. Nelson is exceptionally attuned to the small details that make up the complex world of Kubrick’s films. The expanded edition brings the book up to date.

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  • Sperb, Jason. The Kubrick Facade: Faces and Voices in the Films of Stanley Kubrick. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Sperb stresses the experiential response to Kubrick’s work, especially as voice-over narration—or its lack—is concerned. He considers the use of sound and its absence and analyzes the effect of the word and face in the films. The book is notable for its personal response to the director’s work.

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  • Walker, Alexander, Sybil Taylor, and Ulrich Ruchti. Stanley Kubrick, Director. Rev. and expanded ed. New York: Norton, 1999.

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    Walker’s Stanley Kubrick, Director was first published in 1971, making it one of the earliest full-length studies of the director’s work. Walker’s reminisce of his friendship with Kubrick is one of the better biographical essays available. The revised and expanded edition is a thorough examination of the thematic and visual motifs of the films, with interesting information on Kubrick’s working methods.

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Edited Collections

Abrams 2007 addresses Kubrick’s films from a philosophical perspective. Cocks, et al. 2006 provides some historical and production context. Falsetto 1996 is mainly a collection of previously published essays. Philips 2001 provides a convenient location for the various journalistic interviews given by the director. Rhodes 2008 is wide-ranging in the contributors’ methodologies.

  • Abrams, Jerold J., ed. The Philosophy of Stanley Kubrick. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2007.

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    Essays by various hands analyze Kubrick’s films from the standpoint of mainly existentialist philosophers, though it reaches as far back as the Stoics. Notable for its treatment of the early films, Fear and Desire (1953) and Killer’s Kiss (1955).

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  • Cocks, Geoffrey, James Diedrick, and Glenn Perusek, eds. Depth of Field: Stanley Kubrick, Film, and the Uses of History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

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    Essays include a study of the use of paintings in Barry Lyndon; an investigation of will and agency in the films; an excellent discussion of Eyes Wide Shut by Jonathan Rosenbaum; a useful remembrance by Diane Johnson of her work with Kubrick on The Shining; and a piece by Frederic Raphael even more dyspeptic than his book-length memoir on working with the director.

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  • Falsetto, Mario, ed. Perspectives on Stanley Kubrick. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996.

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    A hybrid collection of a few original and many previously published essays. Includes hard-to-find interviews by Kubrick collaborators, such as the cinematographer John Alcott, as well as interviews with Kubrick; an essay on the reception history of The Shining by Dennis Bingham; and a piece on Killer’s Kiss by Dana Polan.

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  • Philips, Gene D., ed. Stanley Kubrick: Interviews. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001.

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    Kubrick’s habit was to allow one interview just before the release of a new film. Always guarded in his responses, he also asked to vet the piece before publication. The interviews might well be summed up by the conclusion to his 1987 Rolling Stone interview: “You won’t give us any easy answers,” says the frustrated interviewer; “That’s because I don’t have any easy answers.”

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  • Rhodes, Gary D., ed. Stanley Kubrick: Essays on His Films and Legacy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

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    Hugh S. Manon’s piece on Kubrick and film noir offers an interesting context for the early films. Reynold Humphries’s essay on Spartacus usefully discusses the contribution of the blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. Homay King provides a good visual analysis of Barry Lyndon. There are also Lacanian and Bakhtinian analyses of Eyes Wide Shut, and coverage of the other films, with the exception of Lolita.

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Articles

General articles on a number of Kubrick’s films—including an early essay by Kubrick himself (Kubrick 1963)—provide useful analyses that are directly involved with the films or, in the case of Kendrick 2005, discusses them from the technical and presentational perspective of screen format. Some, like the special issue of Sight and Sound (James 1999), provide a career overview, while Pipolo 2009 presents an overview by means of reviewing recent books on the director. Kuberski 2007 looks at the larger political issues of the films. Kolker 2010 provides an overview of the films, concentrating on Kubrick’s use of the uncanny, an approach closely related to Naremore 2006 on the grotesque. Peucker 2001 also addresses the uncanny in Kubrick’s films, while Milne 1964 provides a visual analysis of Dr. Strangelove.

  • James, Nick, ed. Special Issue: Stanley Kubrick. Sight and Sound 9.9 (September 1999).

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    A special issue on Kubrick. Includes “At Home with the Kubricks,” featuring interviews with his family; essays on The Shining as a film about writer’s block; Eyes Wide Shut as a film whose “plot actions . . .unfold in an analogous mixture of pedantic realism and extravagant unbelievability,” in a maze of misconceptions and the character’s self-absorption. A dictionary on A Clockwork Orange’s Nadsat is also included.

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  • Kendrick, James. “Aspect Ratios and Joe Six-Packs: Home Theater Enthusiasts’ Battle to Legitimize the DVD Experience.” Velvet Light Trap 56 (Fall 2005): 58–70.

    DOI: 10.1353/vlt.2006.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the controversy over Kubrick’s decision to release his films in academy ratio, 1:1.33, for their initial VHS and DVD release, as opposed to the wide-screen versions seen in theaters.

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  • Kolker, Robert. “Rage for Order: Kubrick’s Fearful Symmetry.” Raritan 30.1 (Summer 2010): 50–67.

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    On Kubrick’s inimitability and his use of symmetrical compositions and narrative structures.

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  • Kubrick, Stanley. “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema.” Films and Filming 9 (June 1963): 12–13.

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    “It is often difficult not to have a cynical view of human relationships,” Kubrick writes in this brief piece, in which he talks about picking the right story, finding the right shot, and how his experience as a still photographer helped him quickly compose one.

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  • Kuberski, Philip. “Kubrick’s Caretakers: Allegories of Homeland Security.” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 63.1 (Spring 2007): 137–154.

    DOI: 10.1353/arq.2007.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sees Kubrick’s males as “caretakers” who “constantly endanger or destroy their charges.” The author places their failing quest for security against the larger concerns of security on the macro level of political culture.

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  • Milne, Tom. “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stanley Kubrick.” Sight and Sound 33.2 (Spring 1964): 68–72.

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    A discussion of the films through Dr. Strangelove, emphasizing the ways in which Kubrick sets traps for his characters. Good analysis of visual style.

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  • Naremore, James. “Stanley Kubrick and the Aesthetics of the Grotesque.” Film Quarterly 60.1 (Autumn 2006): 4–14.

    DOI: 10.1525/fq.2006.60.1.4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A précis of Naremore’s book On Kubrick (Naremore 2007, cited under Single-Author Works), highlighting his argument that the grotesque—the way “the most bizarre effects emerge from the very clarity with which the imagery is rendered”—help us understand the modernist urge in the director’s work.

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  • Peucker, Brigitte. “Kubrick and Kafka: The Corporeal Uncanny.” Modernism/Modernity 8.4 (November 2001): 663–674.

    DOI: 10.1353/mod.2001.0092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important reading of the element of the still image, the frozen moment of surprise and the uncanny that marks Kubrick’s and Kafka’s works. Draws on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida.

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  • Pipolo, Tony. “Stanley Kubrick’s History Lessons.” Cineaste 34.2 (Spring 2009): 6–11.

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    Review of a number of recent books, including Jerold J. Abrams’s The Philosophy of Stanley Kubrick (Abrams 2007, cited under Edited Collections), Michael Chion’s Eyes Wide Shut (Chion 2006 cited under Eyes Wide Shut (1999)), Geoffrey Cock’s Depth of Field: Stanley Kubrick, Film, and the Uses of History (Cock, et al. 2006, cited under Edited Collections), and Martin Winkler’s Spartacus: Film and History (see Cooper 2007a and Cooper 2007b, cited under Spartacus (1960)). An excellent sampling of recent Kubrick scholarship.

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Individual Films

This section includes works on the individual films.

Fear and Desire (1953)

This was Kubrick’s first feature-length, fiction film, a war film that looks forward to the mature films in the genre, Paths of Glory and Full Metal Jacket. It is an adolescent effort that Kubrick disowned and attempted to suppress. Cherchi Usai 1995 provides one of the few analyses of the film, along with excellent frame enlargements.

  • Cherchi Usai, Paolo, “Checkmating the General: Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire.” Translated by Rachel Stuhlman. Image 38.1–2 (1995): 3–31.

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    The journal Image is published by the George Eastman House, which holds a preservation print of Fear and Desire. Therefore, along with an analysis of the film, the article contains brilliant frame enlargements of a film otherwise available only on terrible video transfers.

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The Killing (1956)

Kubrick’s third film, following Killer’s Kiss (1955) concerns a racetrack robbery led by a protagonist suffering extreme existential angst. The film is built on a complicated nonlinear time scheme in which events are repeated from different points of view. Mamber 1998 addresses the temporal and spatial structure of the film.

Spartacus (1960)

Kubrick had directed Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory (1957), and Douglas called Kubrick in to finish his epic film after the original director, Anthony Mann, was fired. Kubrick barely had control over the production, and this caused him to leave Hollywood behind and begin independent production. The essays on Spartacus largely address its relation to history and to its blacklisted screenwriter. Cooper 2007a and Cooper 2007b detail the tensions between screenwriter, producer, and director. Burton 2008 speaks to the Zionist elements the author sees in the film.

  • Burton, Margaret. “Performances of Jewish Identity: Spartacus.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 27.1 (Fall 2008): 1–15.

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    Given the Jewish ethnicity of the major figures responsible for the film—Howard Fast, Dalton Trumbo, Kirk Douglas, and Stanley Kubrick—the author argues that the film echoes with references to the rise of Nazism, the extermination of the Jews, and the Zionist movement.

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  • Davis, Natalie Zemon. “Trumbo and Kubrick Argue History.” Raritan 22.1 (Summer 2002): 173–190.

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    The discovery of a large amount of material by Dalton Trumbo, including a long letter from Kubrick, indicates that Spartacus’s screenwriter took an active role in shaping the film before and after shooting. Trumbo wanted Spartacus to be victorious in his struggle. Kubrick, of course, resisted.

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  • Cooper, Duncan L. “Dalton Trumbo vs. Stanley Kubrick: The Historical Meaning of Spartacus.” In Spartacus: Film and History. Edited by Martin M. Winkler, 56–64. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Blackwell, 2007a.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470776605Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses Trumbo’s contribution to the film and his differences with Kubrick.

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  • Cooper, Duncan L. “Who Killed the Legend of Spartacus: Production, Censorship, and Reconstruction of Stanley Kubrick’s Epic Film.” In Spartacus: Film and History. Edited by Martin M. Winkler, 14–55. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Blackwell, 2007b.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470776605Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This essay on the production history of the film is one of the most detailed discussions of the struggles among Kirk Douglas, Dalton Trumbo, and Stanley Kubrick that resulted in a film that reflected none of the participants’ original conceptions.

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Lolita (1962)

Kubrick’s adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel was controversial from the beginning. Over time, the film has separated itself from its source and stands as a carefully crafted, ironic work in which the viewer is held in a peculiar tension vis-à-vis its central character, Humbert Humbert, a sympathetic pervert. The following essays discuss the process and results of adaptation.

  • Burns, Dan E. “Pistols and Cherry Pies: Lolita from Page to Screen.” Literature/Film Quarterly 12.4 (December 1984): 245–250.

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    Traces the adaptation of novel to film, stressing that Kubrick was faithful to the novel in important ways, such as retaining the doppelgänger structure between Humbert and Quilty, as well as the novel’s cyclical structure and fairy tale elements.

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  • Watts, Sarah Miles. “Lolita: Fiction into Films without Fantasy.” Literature/Film Quarterly 29.4 (October 2001): 297–302.

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    Compares the novel, the Kubrick film, and the 1997 remake by Adrian Lyne.

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Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove was Kubrick’s first major critical and commercial success. An outrageous satire, its political acuity remains relevant to this day. Abbot 2008, Lindley 2001, Maland 1979, and Stillman 2008 speak to the political context of the film. Carringer 1974 offers a study guide. Williamson 1999 compares the film to Hogarth, and Horton 2007 features art pieces based on frame enlargements from the film.

  • Abbott, Tristan. “Bomb Media, 1953–1964.” Postmodern Culture 18.3 (May 2008).

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    Discusses the noir films of the 1950s as part of an antinuclear discourse that “helped to disrupt the legitimizing discourse of nuclear war.” In the 1960s, Dr. Strangelove and Fail-Safe “annexed the pseudo-scientific, documentary presentation style” of government-sanctioned films about nuclear war, but used it for subversive ends.

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  • Carringer, Robert. “Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: A Guide to Study.” In Special Issue: Film III, Morality in Film and Mass Media. Journal of Aesthetic Education 8.1 (January 1974): 43–53.

    DOI: 10.2307/3331959Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A useful and learned introduction to the film. Interesting for its insight that Kubrick felt more at home with characters who “become increasingly splenetic and misanthropic.” Understands Strangelove as a satire that “takes an eminently rational position . . . and strings it out to an absurd conclusion.” Article includes a sequence outline of the film and study questions.

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  • Horton, Kristan. Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Strangelove. Toronto: Art Gallery of York University, 2007.

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    A wonderful curiosity piece in which the artist uses found objects to reproduce the spatial and lighting elements of images from Kubrick’s film.

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  • Lindley, Dan. “What I Learned since I Stopped Worrying and Studied the Movie: A Teaching Guide to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.” Political Science and Politics 34.3 (September 2001): 663–667.

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    A professor of international relations and security studies offers the film as a way to read the politics and policies of the Cold War.

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  • Maland, Charles. “Dr. Strangelove (1964): Nightmare Comedy and the Ideology of Liberal Consensus.” In Special Issue: Film and American Studies. American Quarterly 31.5 (Winter 1979): 697–717.

    DOI: 10.2307/2712432Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The Cold War belief that humans could survive a nuclear attack marked the cynical dead end of the liberal ideology of the 1930s through the 1950s. “Taken as a whole, Dr. Strangelove fundamentally challenges the ideology of American consensus by attacking anti-Communist paranoia, American adherence to outmoded notions of heroism, various nuclear strategies, and faith in social salvation through technological expertise.”

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  • Stillman, Grant B. “Two of the MADdest Scientists: Where Strangelove Meets Dr. No; or, Unexpected Roots for Kubrick’s Cold War Classic.” Film History: An International Journal 20.4 (2008): 487–500.

    DOI: 10.2979/FIL.2008.20.4.487Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds potential sources for Dr. Strangelove in the February 1961 TV listings in Time, which contain references to Peter Sellers and Henry Kissinger, and in articles by Kissinger in Foreign Affairs as well as other contemporary sources such as Playboy and the James Bond film Dr. No.

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  • Williamson, Paul. “Hogarth and the Strangelove Effect.” Eighteenth-Century Life 23.1 (February 1999): 80–95.

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    An odd attempt to read art history backwards. The moral/aesthetic structure of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove is mirrored in Hogarth’s satirical paintings.

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Kubrick’s spectacular, enigmatic film has launched a number of books and essays. It continues to intrigue viewers and scholars because each viewing of the film unfolds more interpretive possibilities. Geduld 1973 and Krämer 2010 offer overviews and study guides. Chion 2001 is an intensive study of the film. Freedman 1998 puts it into the context of science fiction film. Kuberski 2008 and Wheat 2000 present some arcane interpretive possibilities. Kolker 2006 is a collection of commissioned essays with a variety of approaches. Michelson 1969 is one of the most intense analyses of 2001 and how it changes cinematic perception.

  • Chion, Michel. Kubrick’s Cinema Odyssey. Translated by Claudia Gorbman. London: British Film Institute, 2001.

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    A thorough exploration of the genesis and meanings of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The reading is so close that Chion discovers that there are no shot/reverse shots of humans in the film: these are reserved for the confrontation of HAL and Dave. (Of course, in the Jupiter room, Dave sees himself in a series of shot/reverse shots, each one presenting an older version of himself.) Chion’s book is a compact and incisive analysis of the most minute parts of this extraordinary film.

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  • Freedman, Carl. “Kubrick’s ‘2001’ and the Possibility of a Science-Fiction Cinema.” Science Fiction Studies 25.2 (July 1998): 300–318.

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    Argues that “Kubrick re-invents science-fiction cinema more radically than any other filmic genre, but that in so doing he inevitably engages the extremely problematic character of the conjunction between science fiction and film; and thus he questions whether a genuinely science-fictional cinema is finally possible at all.” No other science fiction films combine special effects with the depths of meaning that Kubrick’s does.

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  • Geduld, Carolyn. Filmguide to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973.

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    An early, brief, but close analysis of the film. Though later criticism has gone beyond Geduld, this is still a useful introduction.

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  • Kolker, Robert, ed. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    A variety of perspectives on the film, including R. Barton Palmer’s reception history; Barry Keith Grant on gender in science fiction film and 2001; Susan White on Kubrick’s bathrooms; and George Toles’s reading of the film as a fairy tale.

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  • Krämer, Peter. 2001: A Space Odyssey. London: British Film Institute, 2010.

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    An intensive history and analysis of the film, tracing its origins and Kubrick’s collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke; considering the place of the film within contemporary film “epics”; and including an exacting plot summary and analysis of the film, stressing the way it plays upon audience response. The book ends with a reception history and the influence of the film on later science fiction. The book contains excellent frame enlargements.

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  • Kuberski, Philip. “Kubrick’s Odyssey: Myth, Technology, Gnosis.” Arizona Quarterly 64.3 (Autumn 2008): 51–73.

    DOI: 10.1353/arq.0.0006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A Jungian reading of 2001 and other films that represent archetypes and the “shadow” and “anima.” Kuberski writes that “2001 comes close to being an explicitly successful individuation, a reconciliation and integration of the ego with its shadowy double, the cosmos itself.”

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  • Michelson, Annette. “Bodies in Space: Film as ‘Carnal Knowledge.’” Artforum 7.6 (February 1969): 54–63.

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    One of the first serious analyses of 2001: A Space Odyssey; Michelson argues that the film fundamentally changes our perceptions of cinematic time and space.

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  • Wheat, Leonard F. Kubrick’s 2001: A Triple Allegory. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2000.

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    Analyzes the film based on three allegorical structures: the Odyssey, the man-machine symbiosis, and Zarathustra. Depends a good deal on anagrams, and sometimes on arcane symbology.

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A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Perhaps Kubrick’s most controversial film; long held from distribution in his adopted country for fear of copycat crimes and lawsuits, it is a complex study of violence and political decay. McDougal 2003 collects a variety of essays, while Sobchack 1981 focuses on production design.

  • McDougal, Stuart Y., ed. Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511615306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Janet Staiger writes a reception history of the film; Margaret DeRosia addresses issues of masculinity and how the film’s representation of heterosexuality suggests it is a “prelude to or substitute for” sadomasochistic relationships between men. Krin Gabbard and Shailja Sharma look at Nabokov, Brecht, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett as predecessors to Kubrick’s film. Peter Rabinowitz addresses the film’s use of music. The collection includes contemporary reviews of the film and a Nadsat dictionary.

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  • Sobchack, Vivian C. “Décor as Theme: A Clockwork Orange.” Literature/Film Quarterly 9.2 (June 1981): 92–102.

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    On the production design and mise-en-scène of the film, emphasizing how Kubrick translated Burgess’s description into his own cinematic vision.

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Barry Lyndon (1975)

One of the most aesthetically and emotionally satisfying of Kubrick’s works, Barry Lyndon is also one of his most visually ambitious, with compositions that are reminiscent of 17th- and 18th-century paintings. Bledsoe 1977 and Miller 1976 tackle the adaptation from Thackeray’s novel. Feldman 1976, Miller 1976, and Spiegel 1977 analyze the structure of the film and its place in the Kubrick canon.

  • Bledsoe, Robert. “Kubrick’s Vanity Fair.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature 31.2 (Spring 1977): 96–99.

    DOI: 10.2307/1346959Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Notes that Kubrick’s ability to “condense . . . characteristically Thackerayan (and Victorian) depiction of emotional sterility is awe-inspiring.” Claims that Barry Lyndon is thematically closer to Vanity Fair than the novel from which the film takes its name.

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  • Feldmann, Hans. “Kubrick and His Discontents.” Film Quarterly 30.1 (Autumn 1976): 12–19.

    DOI: 10.1525/fq.1976.30.1.04a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A reading of Barry Lyndon, placing it as the completion of “a trilogy on the moral and psychological nature of Western man and on the destiny of his civilization” that begins with 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange. According to Feldman, Kubrick believes in the savagery that lies beneath the cultural patina of human behavior.

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  • Miller, Mark Crispin. “Kubrick’s Anti-Reading of The Luck of Barry Lyndon.” MLN 91.6 (December 1976): 1360–1379.

    DOI: 10.2307/2907141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Compares the Thackeray novel and the film, finding that “Kubrick places the film’s emphasis on the protaganist’s inner life” and makes the film more “subdued, quiet, [and] melancholy than its source.”

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  • Spiegel, Alan. “Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.” Salmagundi 38–39 (Summer–Fall 1977): 194–208.

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    Perceptive formal analysis of the film, and how the form—for example, Kubrick’s use of the zoom lens—creates content.

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The Shining (1980)

Kubrick’s horror film is actually a film about the breakdown of family and patriarchy. Articles devoted to the film explore its generic inheritance, its play on gender, its relation to its source, and to the Holocaust. Cocks 2010 is obsessed with the film’s secret references to the Nazi extermination of the Jews, while Hoile 1984 looks at the uncanny in the film. Jameson 1981 places the film in a social context, and Kilker 2006 examines gender in the film. Miers 1980 places the film in the context of contemporary cinema, and Titterington 1981 provides a close analysis.

  • Cocks, Geoffrey. “A Quality of Obsession Considerably Further East: The Holocaust in the Cinema of Stanley Kubrick.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 28.4 (Summer 2010): 72–85.

    DOI: 10.1353/sho.2010.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A further expansion of Cocks’s theory that The Shining is a secret narrative—or contains a secret narrative—of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Color coding and numerology play large roles in his analysis. His detailed look at the film is fascinating, though his conclusions occasionally seem a little strained.

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  • Hoile, Christopher. “The Uncanny and the Fairy Tale in Kubrick’s The Shining. Literature/Film Quarterly 12.1 (March 1984): 5–12.

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    Points out that Kubrick and screenwriter Diane Johnson read Freud on the uncanny and Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment, and that both works had an influence on the film.

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  • Jameson, Fredric. “The Shining.” Social Text 4 (Autumn 1981): 114–125.

    DOI: 10.2307/466280Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This is an interesting comparison of Kubrick and Hitchcock: the one a filmmaker of observant depths; the other one of suffocating surfaces. Jameson sees The Shining as an attempt to exorcise the past and mourn the lack of community and commonality.

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  • Kilker, Robert. “All Roads Lead to the Abject: The Monstrous Feminine and Gender Boundaries in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.” Literature/Film Quarterly 34.1 (January 2006): 54–63.

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    Jack Torrance is viewed here as the victim of the “monstrous feminine.”

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  • Miers, Paul. “The Black Maria Rides Again: Being a Reflection on the Present State of American Film with Special Respect to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.” MLN 95.5 (December 1980): 1360–1366.

    DOI: 10.2307/2906498Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kubrick is “the exception to the demise of Anglo-American film.” The Shining endows Stephen King’s banal novel with intelligence.

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  • Titterington, P. L. “Kubrick and The Shining.” Sight and Sound 50.2 (Spring 1981): 117–121.

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    A careful analysis of the film, placing it in the context of Kubrick’s work to date and noticing the Brechtian elements in the director’s approach. Available online.

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Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Kubrick’s last war film is most often seen in the contexts of the war genre and gender. White 1991 and Willoquet-Maricondi 1994 look at the film from the point of view of gender. Doherty 1988–1989 places it in the context of Vietnam War movies. Gruben 2005 and Perel 2008 look at the character of Joker.

  • Doherty, Thomas. “Full Metal Genre: Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam Combat Movie.” Film Quarterly 42.2 (Winter 1988–1989): 24–30.

    DOI: 10.1525/fq.1988.42.2.04a00040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A contemporary essay on the film, discussing its literary and cinematic influences, putting it in the context of the Hollywood war-movie genre.

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  • Gruben, Patricia. “Practical Joker: The Invention of a Protagonist in Full Metal Jacket.” Literature/Film Quarterly 33.4 (October 2005): 270–279.

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    Takes a “neoformalist” approach “to discover recognizable patterns” in the film. Traces the formation of Joker from novel to shooting script to finished film.

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  • Perel, Zivah. “Pyle and Joker’s Dual Narratives: Individuality and Group Identity in Stanley Kubrick’s Marine Corps.” Literature/Film Quarterly 36.3 (July 2008): 223–232.

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    “Kubrick emphasizes the part of the Marine Corps that forces men into a collective identity.” Pyle is destroyed because he cannot adapt; Joker is able to “negotiate” his way.

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  • White, Susan. “Male Bonding, Hollywood Orientalism, and the Repression of the Feminine in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.” In Inventing Vietnam: The War in Film and Television. Edited by Michael Anderegg, 204–230. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.

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    Discusses the construction of masculinity in the film and the way the Vietnamese sniper, who attacks the soldiers, represents the fear of the “Oriental” other. The essay takes a historical look at the “‘Orientalized’ woman” across American film.

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  • Willoquet-Maricondi, Paula. “Full-Metal-Jacketing, or Masculinity in the Making.” Cinema Journal 33.2 (Winter 1994): 5–21.

    DOI: 10.2307/1225514Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kubrick wants us to understand that the process of “defining masculinity” involves examining “the central myths that define ‘America.’” The author looks at the history of Vietnam literature and film and sees Kubrick’s film as a process of masculinization and infantilization of its characters.

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Kubrick’s last film was his most controversial. Most scholarly essays defend the film, probe its complexities, and place it in the context of the Kubrick canon. Chion 2006 is a minutely close reading. Giovannelli 2010, Mattessich 2000, and Ransom 2010 emphasize the critical and popular reception of the film. Frey 2006 also addresses the adaptation from Schnitzler. Miers 1999 provides a linguistic analysis. Kamrath 2002 is a curious piece that links the film to 18th-century periodicals.

  • Chion, Michel. Eyes Wide Shut. Translated by Trista Selous. London: British Film Institute, 2006.

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    Places the film in the context of Kubrick’s previous work and then proceeds to an often shot-by-shot analysis of what Chion believes “is a film that talks about life; a film that describes everyday life through a couple who have procreated and perpetuated life, and as such it has no precise meaning.” First published 2002.

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  • Frey, Mattias. “Fidelio: Love, Adaptation, and Eyes Wide Shut.” Literature/Film Quarterly 34.1 (January 2006): 39–45.

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    Sees the film as a “meditation on love” and a study in “genre confusion.” Along the way, Frey talks about the “pornographic” elements of the film, its reception, and its derivation from Schnitzler’s novella.

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  • Giovannelli, Alessandro. “Cognitive Value and Imaginative Identification: The Case of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68.4 (Fall 2010): 355–366.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6245.2010.01430.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lays out the various interpretative possibilities offered by the film, on the level of form, content, and the cognition of meaning. This is a reception-based analysis making use of cognitive theories.

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  • Kamrath, Mark. “Eyes Wide Shut and the Cultural Poetics of Eighteenth-Century American Periodical Literature.” Early American Literature 37.3 (2002): 497–536.

    DOI: 10.1353/eal.2002.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses Kubrick’s film as a jumping off point to examine the ideological structures and cultural contexts of 18th-century American periodicals. “Similar to the ways in which Kubrick’s films conflate genres and tone and record a series of tensions, the myriad of texts in . . . periodicals also encode the intense and often contradictory impulses in men and women.”

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  • Kubrick, Stanley, and Frederic Raphael. Eyes Wide Shut: A Screenplay. New York: Warner, 1999.

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    The screenplay and Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 Traumnovelle, which is the film’s source.

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  • Mattessich, Stefan. “Grotesque Caricature: Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut as the Allegory of Its Own Reception.” Postmodern Culture 10.2 (January 2000).

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    The film consciously speaks to its public and critical misconception. It is a caricature in the sense that “it draws us as viewers from the side of the real into a fiction that then presents us with the fiction of the real.”

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  • Miers, Paul. “Language and the Structure of Desire.” MLN 114.5 (December 1999): 1078–1091.

    DOI: 10.1353/mln.1999.0076Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses linguistic theory, based on Chomsky, Prince, Smolensky, and Freudian psychology, to “parse” the construction of sexuality and relationships in Eyes Wide Shut and Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter. This is a complex article built on such things as syllable formation and kinship types. In the end, the article concentrates on the Egoyan film.

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  • Ransom, Amy J. “Opening Eyes Wide Shut: Genre, Reception, and Kubrick’s Last Film.” Journal of Film and Video 62.4 (Winter 2010): 31–46.

    DOI: 10.1353/jfv.2010.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that “the perceived ‘failure’ of Kubrick’s last film can be attributed not to its flaws as a work of art but rather to critics’ misplaced expectations about the film’s genre and its conventions.” The author traces the critical reception of the film and concludes that it follows the conventions of the gothic novel, especially “the relationship between reason and unreason, the rational and the supernatural.”

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A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Although this is Steven Spielberg’s film, roughly based on a script by Kubrick, Sobchack 2008 is an important analysis of the style of the two directors.

  • Sobchack, Vivian. “Love Machines: Boy Toys, Toy Boys and the Oxymorons of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.” Science Fiction Film and Television 1.1 (Spring 2008): 1–13.

    DOI: 10.3828/sfftv.1.1.2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the Kubrickian elements in Spielberg’s film by comparing Gigolo Joe, the sex machine robot, and David, the little boy robot. The former retains some glimmer of Kubrick’s ideas about technology and its discontents, the latter Spielberg’s sentimental longings.

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Music

Once Kubrick abandoned Alex North’s score for 2001: A Space Odyssey and replaced it with prerecorded music, the relationship between sound and image changed forever. There have been numerous essays on Kubrick’s music, and even though many of them refer to specific films, they are put in one category here for those interested in the general subject of music in his films. Gorbman 2006 is a detailed analysis of the score of Eyes Wide Shut, and Patterson 2004 performs a similar function for the score of 2001. Hanoch-Roe 2002 examines the intricate relationship between music, character, and viewer in A Clockwork Orange. Scheurer 1998 provides a close reading of the music in 2001, comparing it with Alex North’s original score. Barham 2009 benefits from access to production material on The Shining. Redner 2010 uses Deleuze to elucidate the music in 2001.

  • Barham, Jeremy. “Incoporating Monsters: Music as Context, Character and Construction in Kubrick’s The Shining.” In Terror Tracks: Music, Sound and Horror Cinema. Edited by Philip Hayward, 137–161. London and Oakville, CT: Equinox, 2009.

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    The author was provided detailed information on how the music was used in The Shining by the film’s music editor, Gordon Stainforth. In addition to detailed tables of scenes with the music that accompanies them, Barham reproduces fascinating schematic drawings made by Stainforth, illustrating how the music and images would interact.

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  • Gorbman, Claudia. “Ears Wide Open: Kubrick’s Music.” In Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film. Edited by Phil Powrie and Robynn Stilwell, 3–18. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

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    A close reading of the music in Eyes Wide Shut. The author reproduces sections of the various scores in her analysis of the interactions of music and image.

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  • Hanoch-Roe, Galia. “Beethoven’s Ninth: An ‘Ode to Choice’ as Presented in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 33.2 (December 2002): 171–179.

    DOI: 10.2307/4149775Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has embedded in it an aggressiveness and impulsiveness, allowing the listener to choose a response appropriate to his or her temperament.

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  • Patterson, David W. “Music, Structure and Metaphor in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.” American Music 22.3 (Autumn 2004): 444–474.

    DOI: 10.2307/3592986Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the musical structure of 2001: A Space Odyssey as a progression that reflects the “the narrative’s thematic symbolism.” Unlike more impressionistic studies of the film’s music, this essay details the structure of the music itself. Also addresses the relationship of Kubrick and Ligeti.

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  • Paulus, Irena. “Stanley Kubrick’s Revolution in the Usage of Film Music: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 40.1 (June 2009): 99–127.

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    The author presents an interesting reading of the film based on the fact that the introductory music—before we hear the famous opening theme from Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra—is Ligeti’s Atmosphères. This suggests that the film is a cyclical flashback from the Starchild at film’s end. Also suggests that Ligeti’s Requiem is the “voice of the monolith” and Lux Aeterna the “voice of the universe.”

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  • Redner, Gregg. “Strauss, Kubrick and Nietzsche: Recurrence and Reactivity in the Dance of Becoming That is 2001: A Space Odyssey.” In Sounds of the Future: Essays on Music in Science Fiction Film. Edited by Mathew J. Bartkowiak, 177–191. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

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    Calls on Deleuze to discuss how the opening of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra realizes the concept of “eternal return,” signaled by its reappearance three times in the course of the film. The author is interested in how the music cue “engages with, or exerts its force on the mise-en-scène” of the film.

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  • Scheurer, Timothy E. “The Score for 2001: A Space Odyssey.” Journal of Popular Film and Television 25.4 (Winter 1998): 172–182.

    DOI: 10.1080/01956059809602764Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Divides the film into themes and then provides a detailed comparison of Alex North’s unused score for the film with the selections Kubrick chose.

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LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0058

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