In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Stanley Kubrick

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Biographies
  • Memoirs
  • Archival Collections
  • Adaptations
  • Music

Cinema and Media Studies Stanley Kubrick
Robert Kolker
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 November 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0058


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 article 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. Phillips, et al. 2002 is a reference work for all things Kubrickian.

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

    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.

  • Phillips, Gene D., et al. The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. New York: Facts On File, 2002.

    This is a handy, though nonscholarly, guide to all aspects of Kubrick’s work. Entries are included not only on the films, but also on the various people who worked on them as well as peripheral figures such as sound effects artist Jack Foley and topics such as film noir; includes a moving afterword by Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali.

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