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Stanley Kubrick’s last-minute alteration to the end of ‘The Shining’
04:04 pm


Stanley Kubrick
The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s 1979 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining continues to exert unusual power over audiences, as seen in many ways, most notably the appearance of a film several years ago named Room 237 dedicated to elaborate fan notions of the movie that strayed well into conspiracy theory terrain.

Many have called attention to Kubrick’s mastery over “the uncanny” to explain the movie’s grip on us. Narrative elements (as well as geography and architecture) don’t add up, there is an excess of production skill over narrow plot points as Kubrick allowed horror tropes free rein. It’s perhaps not surprising that Kubrick himself didn’t treat the substance of the movie with great care, according to the movie’s executive producer Jan Harlan:

Very often crew members asked [Kubrick], “Can you explain that to me?” And he said, “I never explain anything, I don’t understand it myself. It’s a ghost film!” You can’t imagine how much fuss was made over the big golden ballroom and the big lobby and huge windows that could never have fit into the hotel [based on the] establishing shot from outside. Any child can see that. And Stanley’s explanation was, “It’s a ghost film! Forget it!” … It’s not a movie with a serious message.

Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s novel was notably “free” and did not adhere strictly to the text, which made for a complex screenwriting process in which the status of a great many important plot resolutions were up in the air until the very end of post-production, indeed even after the movie’s release.

Anyone who’s seen the movie will remember the ending, which transitions from a lengthy chase sequence in the snowy hedge maze to a modified zoom shot that reveals the existence of Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, in a banquet decades earlier.

But the first audiences experienced a very different ending of the movie. Between those two shots was an entire scene that Kubrick cut from the movie after audiences in New York City and Los Angeles had seen it, as Lee Unkrich of The Overlook Hotel website describes:

Kubrick decided to remove the scene very shortly after the U.S. opening, dispatching assistants to excise the scene from the dozens of prints showing in Los Angeles and New York City. All known copies of the scene were reportedly destroyed, although it is rumored that one surviving copy may exist.

In the scene, which takes place a few weeks after the final chase, Ullman, the hotel manager we meet at the start of the movie, visits Danny and Wendy in the hospital where both are recovering. The significant thing here is that audiences get a chance to see that the two of them are OK, a reassurance denied most of the people who’ve watched the movie since then. Ullman explains to Wendy that investigators have not been able to uncover the slightest evidence of anything supernatural in the hotel. Before he leaves, according to the script, Ullman tosses Danny a “yellow ball,” presumably the same ball that was rolled to him from an unseen force outside Room 237 about halfway through the movie.

Diane Johnson, who co-wrote the movie with Kubrick, recently commented: “In other words: All of this really happened, and the magic events were actual. It was just a little twist. It was easy to jettison.”

The scene was cut on a suggestion from Warners, which felt that it was too confusing. Kubrick complied with the request. Here’s Harlan’s take:

The tennis ball is the same thing as the photograph — it’s unexplainable. It makes Ullman now another ghost element. Was he the ghost from the very beginning? The film is complex enough because nothing is explained. That non-explaining is what was bad for the film initially. It was not a huge success. Now everybody thinks it’s the best horror film ever or whatever. But when it came out the audience expected a horror film with a resolution, with an explanation. Who is the baddie? What was going on? And they were disappointed — many of them, anyway. The fact they were left puzzled was exactly what Stanley Kubrick wanted. And when the film [screened for critics] and wasn’t well received, Warners quite rightly suggested, “It’s enough, just take [the hospital scene] out.” So Stanley did it. He’s not stubborn, especially since this is a film mainly to entertain people. But Stanley was actually very sad that he misread the audience, that he trusted the audience to live with puzzles and no answers, and that they didn’t like it.

Personally, I think the scene was removed because audiences hadn’t had the first ball emphasized enough for them to realize the implications of Ullman having the same ball with him (and therefore being a ghost or something). After all, Torrance spends a lot of time throwing a ball against the banquet room wall, too. That meaning implied by the ball was too weak for the requisite “Aha!” moment to register; that would have required dialogue about the ball (“But where did the ball come from, Danny?”) or perhaps repeated instances of mysterious events related to the ball, as of way of lodging it in the audience’s memory.

Less commented upon was the apparent inclusion, at least at the script stage, of a lame caption before the end credits:

The Overlook Hotel would survive this tragedy, as it had so many others. It is still open each year from May 20th to September 20th. It is closed for the winter.

I think all observers can agree that it was good that that isn’t in the surviving version…...

Here are the script pages for the deleted scene:





Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Shining’ in the style of an 8-bit video game
Frozen ‘Jack Torrance’ from ‘The Shining’ Halloween costume

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The opera based on Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’

Last year the Minnesota Opera showcased the world premiere of a new opera based on Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, the starting point for an unsettling adaptation by Stanley Kubrick starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. 

The operatic version was composed by Paul Moravec with a libretto by Mark Campbell. Moravec won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004 for his work Tempest Fantasy.

The opera is an adaptation not of Kubrick’s movie but of King’s book—although the movie, firmly embedded in the minds of virtually everyone in the audience, will surely have an effect. As an example, the famous words “Here’s Johnny!,” shouted by Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in a moment of frenzy, is not in the novel and thus does not appear in the opera either. King has never had any affection for Kubrick’s version of his novel, so it’s noteworthy that the prolific author “maintained libretto approval and gave Campbell the green light 24 hours after receiving the final version.”

The Shining capped off the Minnesota Opera’s 2015-2016 season, with the premiere taking place on May 7, 2016.

The reviews have been respectful to more than respectful. In the magazine Opera News, Joshua Rosenblum was effusive about the production, saying that “Moravec proves to be a masterful musical dramatist.” He added that “Brian Mulligan does the seemingly impossible—he actually makes you forget Jack Nicholson” and that “watching Vega’s Danny step slowly toward the bathtub with the drawn curtain in the forbidden room 217 was as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen in a theater. “

Fun fact: Rosenblum did not mistype Room 237, nor did the librettist commit a flub—in King’s novel the locus of dread is actually Room 217.


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Real Horrorshow: The short-lived ‘Clockwork Orange’-themed punk band Molodoy

I’m pleased to have a reason to call attention to the Sheffield Tape Archive, an absolutely unbeatable resource helping to preserve an essential part of our collective musical heritage. As they describe it, the archive’s purpose is to house “a series of archive recordings from around 1980 onwards: sheffield bands, demos, concerts and rarities.”

One of the more intriguing acts featured in the Sheffield Tape Archive existed only very briefly, never put out an album, and their only live dates were before 1980. They were called Molodoy, and they had a terrific gimmick: The entire band was an extended homage to the joint artistic labors of Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick, the latter of course having most memorably adapted the former’s unsettling bestseller A Clockwork Orange. Not much is known about this band today, but I’m willing to bet that one rejected name for the band was Alex and the Droogs.

The group’s singer, Garry Warburton, unmistakably played the role of Alex, complete with facepaint incorporating the book’s signature gear/eye motif (as you can see above) that also references the extravagant eyelash makeup worn by Malcolm McDowell in the movie.

The name, Molodoy, comes from the book, which is told in an invention of Burgess’ called “Nadsat,” a type of youth slang that is replete with Russian-derived colloquialisms—the best-known term is “horrorshow,” which is a reformulation of khorosho, the Russian word for “good.” The term molodoy, meaning “young,” pops up early in Burgess’ novel:

I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, my gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”

Molodoy unfortunately didn’t leave much trace behind. I was able to find an account of a Cabaret Voltaire gig at Sheffield’s Limit Club from the summer of 1978 at which Molodoy also played. The writer, whose name I was not able to ascertain, seems to have found them more than a little intimidating:

Molodoy follow. This is the band the skinheads have come to see. The singer is dressed in full Clockwork Orange droog uniform: black bowler hat, eye make-up, white shirt and trousers, black boots and braces. Real horrowshow.

“This one’s called ‘Children Of The Third Reich’”.

The lyrics flirt with fascism. The music is taut, dense and sexless. He’s watchable in a detestable kind of way. The skins push each other around, there is argy, but thankfully no bargy. The rest of us look on, mute. We are either young, liberal-minded types who think everyone is entitled to their own point of view, or we are collectively shit scared of getting a 14 eye oxblood Dr. Martens boot to the head. Molodoy continue to thrash and thrum, we the audience opt to keep schtum.

To perform in a rock group dressed as a Droog in 70s Britain was to, obviously, assume the mantle not just of “ultra-violence,” but of sexual violence as well. After Fleet Street blamed the film for inspiring a gang rape in which the attackers sang “Singin’ in the Rain” as “Singin’ in the Rape” and A Clockwork Orange was linked to several sensational murders, Kubrick’s film was withdrawn from distribution in 1973 at the director’s request. No wonder the bootboys came out in force for Molodoy.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ by Jack Kirby

If you’re at all aware of comic books history, Jack Kirby needs no introduction. As one of the founding visionaries at Marvel in the 1960s, Kirby’s vital storytelling skills and phenomenal visual energy helped make the X-Men, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four household names.   

A few months ago we drew your attention to a never-published project of Kirby’s, his adaptation of The Prisoner, the dystopic British TV series starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan. Today we have a similar treat, one of the very few fully realized stories by Kirby that has never been collected in book form—his mid-1970s adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, originally a short story by Arthur C. Clarke called “The Sentinel” and later a movie directed by Stanley Kubrick.

The movie came out in 1968, but Kirby’s adaptation had to wait until 1976. We can regard that gap as a kind of marker for Kirby’s strong desire to adapt the story even though there may have been little commercial interest in it. Kirby first adapted the movie as a standalone book of 70 pages, and then proceeded to recapitulate the movie’s plot and themes over and over again across 10 issues—except this time with scary aliens with tentacles that have nothing to do with Kubrick’s movie. The resolution of that 10-issue run is a character who is actually oddly resonant with our own times, a human-A.I. hybrid called Machine Man, whose own comic book line, which picked up where 2001: A Space Odyssey left off, lasted for a few months. The character would be fitfully resurrected every ten years or so (1984, 1999). 

Remarkably, Machine Man was eventually made a part of the Avengers, so it’s an accurate statement to say that the Avengers has the DNA of Kubrick and Clarke in it—and for that matter Friedrich Nietzsche, who is never far from my thoughts whenever I watch Kubrick’s masterpiece.

Kirby’s adaptation of the movie was wildly rethought for the medium of comics. His palette is all over the place, departing vastly from Kubrick’s more stately blacks, whites, and reds. And the action of course is tuned to the entertainment value of a typical 10-year-old rather than a stoned college student—this is echoed in the cover promise that “The Ultimate Trip” would become “The Ultimate Illustrated Adventure!” Kirby dispenses with the three (highly Nietzschean) sections of the movie (“The Dawn of Man,” “Mission to Jupiter,” and “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite”) with four more hyperbolic sections of his own, which are replete with exclamation points:

Part I: The Saga of Moonwatcher the Man-Ape!
Part II: Year 2001: The Thing on the Moon!
Part III: Ahead Lie the Planets
Part IV: The Dimension Trip!

Kirby’s fans are said not to be fond of his 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I must say I like it. It’s got not that much to do with Kubrick but that just makes it all the more interesting.

In Kirby’s telling, the so-called “Starchild” infant of the movie’s finale is reconcieved as “The New Seed.” In the feature hilariously called “Monolith Mail” reserved for reader correspondence, Kirby noted of this element:

The New Seed is the conquering hero in this latest Marvel drama. Why? Because he has staying power, that’s why. He will always be there in the story’s final moments to taunt us with the question we shall never answer. The little shaver is, perhaps, the embodiment of our own hopes in a world which daily makes us more than a bit uneasy about the future ... in the meager space devoted to his appearance, he brightens our hopes considerably. He is a comforting visual, almost tangible reminder that the future is not yet up for grabs. And wherever his journey takes him matters not one whit to this writer. The mere fact that the chances of his making it are still good is the comforting thought.

Some sample images from Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey:


More images from Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey after the jump:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Score this cool ‘Shining’-themed skirt while it’s dirt cheap
07:33 am


Stanley Kubrick
The Shining

There’s this intriguing skirt that’s a perfect item for the woman who loves The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s endlessly compelling 1979 Stephen King adaptation, but doesn’t always want to be too obvious about it. I noticed it at a bar yesterday when I witnessed one woman pay another a sartorial compliment for wearing it. The wearer instantly mentioned that it depicts part of the helicopter shot from the opening sequence of The Shining.

This got my attention, so I inquired further. As fans of the movie will remember, the opening sequence is a lengthy series of shots of a fantastic natural landscape, most of it a bird’s-eye view of a car driving on a road. But the car isn’t in the very first shot; the very first shot was executed over a body of water, a landscape shot taken at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana. 

Here’s a basic shot of the skirt:

Here’s a closer look:

Here’s a picture of the very first shot of The Shining:

It sure as heckfire seems like the same place from the same angle. You can even see a slight irregularity on the base of the mountain on the right side of the picture, it’s the same in both pictures. They’ve fucked with the colors a bit and given the setting much more of a radioactive neon feel, but it’s the same place. 

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Classic Penguin sci-fi covers from the 1970s by David Pelham

Night of Light by Philip José Farmer
David Pelham was art director for Penguin Books during the 1970s and was responsible for a great many arresting and distinctive covers for many of the sci-fi novels Penguin put out during that time, which is one of the great periods for sci-fi writing in general. Many of the images on this page come from a series that came out in 1972-73 that used (as Penguin often did and still does) visual cues to signal that books belong together. In this case the series had in common white text and a black background, bold use of primary colors and a strong horizon line that in some cases (Sirius, A Cure for Cancer) is cleverly adapted for a slightly different purpose.

Pelham did many Penguin covers for works by J.G. Ballard and was in close contact with the author in the process of creating them. Ballard actually named a character in “The Reptile Enclosure” after Pelham. After one meeting during which they had looked over Pelham’s mockups for a series of Ballard covers, Pelham scribbled some notes that were obviously based on Ballard’s comments, and they make for a resonant and Ballardian piece of poetry: “monumental / tombstones / airless thermonuclear landscape / horizons / a zone devoid of time.”

Pelham’s most famous cover was for Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and fascinatingly enough, Pelham himself doesn’t think much of it:

When I was Art Director of Penguin Books I had to create this image in one night. We planned to bring out a film tie-in of Burgess’s wonderful book to coincide with the release of the movie, and we obviously urgently needed a strong cover image that related to the film. When Stanley Kubrick unaccountably refused to supply us with promotional press shots I immediately commissioned a well-known illustrator to help out. The result was not only unacceptable but it was also inexcusably late, so we were horribly out of time. Having already attended a press screening of Kubrick’s film I had a very clear image in my mind’s eye as to how the cover should look and so, collecting up a few supplies from the art department, I sped home to my Highgate flat to create the cover myself. I remember a motorcycle messenger arriving at 4.30am to deliver the ‘repro’—that is the typography—for the paste up. This of course was a long time before the age of computers, and everything was done with ink, glue and ‘repro’, which had to be painstakingly stuck in place on a base board. Another messenger arrived at 7am to whisk the artwork off to the printer. Consequently I had not had time to properly scrutinize the image, to make the small adjustments and refinements that I still believe it needed. So now, every time I see that image, all I see are the mistakes. But then, maybe it’s those unfinished rough edges that contribute to its appeal. Who knows?

In 1996 Eye Magazine wrote that Pelham’s covers “dignify the books with symbolic images that help to convey the conceptual sophistication of the writing inside.” For more of Pelham’s covers as well as many striking Penguin covers by other artists, check out the well-curated website Penguin Science Fiction.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Many more of Pelham’s spectacular sci-fi creations after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Funeral Parade of Roses’: Edgy 1969 Japanese drama that inspired Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
02:09 pm


Stanley Kubrick
Toshio Matsumoto

Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses is one of the most audacious and astounding feature films ever made, a visually-stunning hodgepodge of cutting edge 60s graphic design, Warholian underground cinema, documentary filmmaking along with wildly experimental editing techniques. Matsumoto’s dazzling freewheeling filmmaking breaks the Brechtian fourth wall several times—interviewing the actors about their roles and pulling a shot out to reveal the camera and lighting crew—and shows the influence of William Klein’s fashionista extravaganza Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, the films of Jean Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, even Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Funeral Parade of Roses is a furious and dizzying bombardment of violence, sex, and drugs. The 1969 film is well-known to have been a major influence on Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, and we see this in the sped-up montage scenes set to classical music, the sound design and editing style, and art direction (not to mention the false-eyelashes and the phallic lollipops). It was produced via the Art Theatre Guild (ATG) the legendary Japanese production company and distributors of the country’s “New Wave” cinema that was shunned by the major studios. In one underground “in-joke” New York’s avant-garde cinema promoter Jonas Mekas is mentioned by name and quoted:

“All definitions of cinema have been erased. The doors are now open.”


All this and I’ve yet to mention that Funeral Parade of Roses takes place in Tokyo’s gay underworld—Bara no sôretsu is the original Japanese title, “bara” meaning “rose” which equates to the pejorative use of “pansy”—giving it a particularly edgy reputation for a film made in Japan in 1969.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in the style of Picasso

A team of developers named Gatys, Ecker, and Bethge recently developed an implementation of a technique known as a “style transfer,” which involves taking a specific pattern and “applying” it to a piece of video, such that the available surfaces in the video take on the texture of the original pattern. It’s kind of like a face swap only more ambitious.

A few months have passed, and a clever individual named Joshi Bhautik has tried to apply the technique as a way of mashing up great art and classic cinema. Specifically, he took a painting by Pablo Picasso, one of his “Les Femmes d’Alger” (Women of Algiers) series, which looks like this:

... and used it as the base image for a deep neural net-based style transfer on Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is full of striking images to say the least.

Once you do that, the generally stately, slow cinematography of the movie becomes a shimmering kaleidoscope, as seen in the following image:

The method has the peculiar effect of turning the entire movie into a version of the phantasmagorical, psychedelic journey Dave Bowman goes on for several minutes at the end of the movie, a sequence MAD magazine once compared to “crashing through the brand-new 105-story Jupiter Museum of Op Art.”

Here’s Bhautik’s description of what this is:

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ rendered in the style of Picasso using deep neural network based style transfer. The cubist style had mixed results in the transfer; you can see that big empty blocks of colour didn’t map coherently between the frames. I’m working on a solution for that :]

See it after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Amazing movie posters for films by Hitchcock, Kubrick and Lynch that we’ll never get to see

Salvador Dali’s ‘Giraffes on Horseback Salad’ (1937)
Most film directors have a list of movie projects they never manage to make. Some are started like Orson Welles’ Don Quixote but never finished—though posthumously released in a re-edited form. Others like Hitchcock’s R.R.R.R. never quite make it from idea to script to studio green light.

L.A. based artist and designer Fernando Reza has created a stupendous selection of film posters for movie projects by directors like Hitchcock, Welles, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and even Salvador Dali that were discussed, planned, and even partially filmed but never completed.

Take for example Salvador Dali who planned to make a movie with the Marx Brothers called Giraffes on Horseback Salad in 1937. Dali was friends with Harpo Marx and the pair decided to work together on a film project. Dali had already made two short films with Luis Bunuel (Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’or) and would later go on to collaborate with Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock designing dream sequences for Dumbo and Spellbound.

Dali and Marx concocted a story about an aristocrat played by Harpo falling in love with a woman whose face is never revealed. The great Surrealist intended to use the film to show:

...the continuous struggle between the imaginative life as depicted in the old myths and the practical and rational life of contemporary society.

The film was to include scenes with a “horde of burning giraffes wearing gas masks, and Harpo catching dwarves with a net.” A script was apparently written but the other Marx Brothers nixed the idea thinking the idea a stinker and the script not very funny.
Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ aka ‘Frenzy’ (1964-67).
Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make a prequel to Shadow of Doubt with another “Merry Widow Murderer” luring women to their grisly deaths. As with Psycho, Hitchcock had devised three set pieces to focus on the three gruesome murders carried out by the deviant sex-fiend. The first murder was to take place by a waterfall; the second on board a disused warship; the third in an oil refinery against brightly colored oil drums. 

Unlike Psycho or Shadow of Doubt there was no moral counterpoint to the “relentless sex and violence” shown onscreen. A script was written and test scenes shot. Among the actors considered for the lead role were Michael Caine, Robert Redford and David Hemmings. The film was basically a slasher movie a decade ahead of its time. Universal Studios vetoed the idea—thinking Hitchcock’s movie too amoral and too dark.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fantastic wooden sculptures of famous movie directors

Stanley Kubrick
I like these mash-up wooden sculptures of Hollywood film directors by artist Mike Leavitt. If you notice, each sculpture references movies the director made. The directors are in the details i.e. Stanley Kubrick’s eyelashes referencing A Clockwork Orange or Hitchcock carved as a bird. 

Each sculpture measures around 18 inches in height. Now as to whether or not these are for sale… I simply don’t know. You can contact Mike Leavitt at his site here to find out. You can also follow Leavitt on his Instagram to see his work in progress. 


Alfred Hitchcock

An unfinished Quentin Tarantino
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The making of ‘The Shining’: ‘A lot of things have happened in this particular hotel’

Authors hate it when filmmakers fuck around with their work. They see the word as paramount and everything else subservient to it. Take Stephen King. He hated it when Stanley Kubrick fucked around with his book The Shining. Which is surprising as Kubrick’s movie greatly adds to King’s novel.

King sweated a lot blood writing The Shining. The story was as much about the his own personal addictions as it was about some haunted hotel. I like King. I like King a lot, and think he’s due a lot more respect as a writer than he gets. And though I generally prefer King’s books to the films, in the case of The Shining I will always opt for Kubrick’s movie rather than for King’s book.

The reason is simple: Where King filled pages with backstory and character motivation—making everything neat and tidy and very, very explainable—Kubrick left his adaptation of The Shining open—allowing the horror to seep in.

Where King has a genius for storytelling and plot, Kubrick had a genius for making deeply intelligent, visually stunning, multi-layered films that only reveal the director’s full mastery of his art after successive viewings. If ever.
Barkeep, I’ll have a Jack and Coke.
The Shining is probably the most discussed and obsessed over movie Kubrick made—though maybe it’s run pretty by 2001: A Space Odyssey. Theories about the film range from coded confessions about the Moon landings to the “narrative of a murder” embedded in the film, to Kubrick’s interest in the Jungian duality of human nature—as seen through the set designs, motifs and parallel characters to a critique of history—the failure to learn from past experience—as the caretaker Hallorann explains to Danny in the film:

A lot of things have happened in this particular hotel, over the years, and not all of ‘em good.

Kubrick was fastidious in making The Shining. Originally scheduled as a seventeen-week shoot, the production went on for fourteen months. That’s around 200 filming days. According to the film studio, Kubrick shot 1.3 million feet of film—roughly a shooting ratio of 120:1. Most movies have a 5:1 or 12:1 shooting ratio—so you get an idea of justhow picky Mr. K was when filming.
Kubrick shot and reshot scenes time and again. There was genius at work in this seeming profligate madness. Jack Nicholson always gave a brilliant first take. Then Kubrick would ask for another, then another—anything up to one hundred takes before he was satisfied. This meant, Nicholson’s performance varied the longer the filming process went on. In the edit, Kubrick often chose the more over the top performances, which he then countered with one where Nicholson underplayed. The juxtaposition of two differing styles highlighted the growing split in Nicholson’s character—revealing the internal battle between good and evil. But let’s be clear—this was Jack Nicholson who supplied the performances, the raw material—not the director.

Kubrick used different psychological techniques to obtain the performances he wanted from his cast. He was particularly hard on Shelley Duvall, who he berated and criticized during filming—though Duvall delivered one of her most memorable performances. Much of Kubrick’s techniques was captured by his daughter Vivian Kubrick, in her documentary film The Making of ‘The Shining’—which followed Stanley Kubrick, Nicholson, Duvall, the other cast and crew members during the long interminable weeks of filming at Pinewood and Elstree Studios.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fascinating vintage promo film on the making of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

In 1964, Stanley Kubrick wrote to Arthur C. Clarke.  He told the science fiction author he was a “a great admirer” of his books, and “had always wanted to discuss with [him] the possibility of doing the proverbial really good science-fiction movie.”

Kubrick briefly outlined his ideas:

My main interest lies along these broad areas, naturally assuming great plot and character:

The reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.

The impact (and perhaps even lack of impact in some quarters) such discovery would have on Earth in the near future.

A space probe with a landing and exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Clarke liked Kubrick’s suggestions. A meeting was arranged at Trader Vic’s in New York on April 22, 1964, at which Kubrick explained his interest in extraterrestrial life. He told Clarke he wanted to make a film about “Man’s relationship to the universe.”

The author offered the director a choice of six short stories—from which Kubrick picked “The Sentinel” (published as “The Sentinel of Eternity” in 1953). The story described the discovery of strange, tetrahedral artefact on the Moon. The narrator speculates the object is a “warning beacon” left by some ancient alien intelligence to signal humanity’s evolutionary advance towards space travel.

Over the next four years they worked together on the film—two of which were spent co-writing the screenplay they privately called How the Solar System Was Won.
Director and Author.
Kubrick and Clarke decided to write a book together first then the screenplay. This was to be credited: “Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, based on a novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick.” It turned out slightly differently as the book and screenplay were written simultaneously. While Kubrick made the film “a visual, nonverbal experience,” Clarke widened the story out, explaining many of the events Kubrick left open-ended. The director wanted to make a film that hit the audience “at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does, or painting.”

In an interview with Joseph Gelmis in 1970, Kubrick described the genesis of both the book and script:

There are a number of differences between the book and the movie. The novel, for example, attempts to explain things much more explicitly than the film does, which is inevitable in a verbal medium. The novel came about after we did a 130-page prose treatment of the film at the very outset. This initial treatment was subsequently changed in the screenplay, and the screenplay in turn was altered during the making of the film. But Arthur took all the existing material, plus an impression of some of the rushes, and wrote the novel. As a result, there’s a difference between the novel and the film…I think that the divergences between the two works are interesting.

Clarke was more direct. He wrote an explicit interpretation of the film explaining many of its themes. In particular, how the central character David Bowman ends his days in what Clarke described as a kind of living museum or zoo, where he is observed by alien life forms.
The director on a sound stage at MGM Studios, Borehamwood, England.
Kubrick was less forthcoming. Though he did share some of his thoughts on the meaning and purpose of human existence in an interview with Playboy in 1968:

The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfilment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Similarities between shots and designs in ‘2001’ and Pavel Klushantsev’s ‘Road to the Stars’ (1958).
Kubrick involved himself in every aspect of the film’s production—from costume and set design, technical specifications, the requirements of specially designed cameras, to the building of a 32-ton centrifuge used to create the interior of a space craft. Kubrick was greatly influenced by Pavel Klushantsev’s Road to the Stars from 1958—and exploited many of the designs, crafts and ideas featured in that film.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Velvet jacket inspired by iconic ‘Shining’ carpet
01:19 pm


Stanley Kubrick
The Shining
Ted Baker

The excellent website known as The Overlook Hotel, which is dedicated to everything relating to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, posted this a couple weeks back.

It’s a velvet jacket by Ted Baker that (rather obviously) pays homage to the carpet from The Shining. According to The Overlook Hotel website, it was a limited run of 70 jackets, and it was available at the Ted Baker boutique in Dubai. No price is mentioned.

Searches on the internet turned up no other information about this jacket that doesn’t derive from The Overlook Hotel website.

I’d love to know more about this jacket. I want to buy one! If it doesn’t bankrupt me.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Behind-the-scenes photos of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
12:55 pm


Stanley Kubrick
A Clockwork Orange


“I’m going out with my droogs to the cinny to shove a pooshka into the grahzny bratchny.”

A roundup of some behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, 1971. Like Cure videos and cute cat memes, there is a seemingly bottomless well of Kubrick memorabilia on the Internet. His films will still be discussed, debated—and still WATCHED—500 years from now.

“Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well.”


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Good Day, Mr. Kubrick’: The most memorably goofy audition tape of the 1980s
09:27 am


Stanley Kubrick
Brian Atene

One of the central difficulties about acting is the sheer act of putting yourself out there—giving it your all, emoting, gesticulating, chewing on a bizarre accent. The difference between a bold and inspired performance and a cringeworthy one has to be next to nothing, right? Jodie Foster once said that “acting is about being the uncoolest person in the room—the unhippest, the worst dancer, the worst dresser.”

This problem of confronting the ridiculous is a good deal of what makes the audition process so terribly daunting—all the more so if you are submitting a tape of a scene you’ve acted solo in your own bedroom. If you have seen Master of None, you probably remember a funny scene in which the Aziz Ansari character is obliged to submit an audition via Skype from a coffee shop. This stuff isn’t easy.

As Stanley Kubrick neared production on his Vietnam epic Full Metal Jacket, he hit upon a novel way of conducting the casting process for a movie that would inevitably be filled with fresh-faced kids: he made public solicitations for audition videotapes. Kubrick’s willingness to assess untried talent in this manner was big news in early 1984. It appeared in movie columns in newspapers like the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, with detailed instructions. As John Baxter noted in Stanley Kubrick: A Biography,

Variety also noted that Kubrick would “launch a nationwide search for new faces to play the young Marines. ‘Kubrick plans to stick very closely to that age in casting the film,’ says WB.” Kubrick played on his mystique, letting wannabe actors do much of the work of casting for him. In March 1984 he told the world’s press that he wanted audition tapes from anyone who felt able to play an eighteen-year-old Marine. They should stand against a plain background in jeans and a white T-shirt with a card showing their name and a contact number, then perform a dramatic scene of no more than three minutes. After that he wanted a minute on themselves and their interests. Then they should hold up a sheet with their name, address, phone number, age and date of birth. A series of close-ups, full-length shots and left and right profiles would finish the tape, which should then be sent to Warners in London.

In his biography of Kubrick, Vincent Lobrutto picks up the thread:

Kubrick received as many as three thousand videotapes of prospective movie Marine grunts. Kubrick’s staff reviewed all the tapes received and eliminated the ones they deemed unacceptable. Kubrick personally reviewed eight hundred audition tapes, noting that the majority of young men played guitar and were involved in body building.

On a recent episode of his podcast Doug Loves Movies, comedian Doug Benson, who would have been 19 years old at the time, revealed that he sent Kubrick an audition tape. In fact, according to Lobrutto, Vincent D’Onofrio won the part of Private Pyle in the movie by submitting an audition tape in this manner.

In 2006 a video surfaced of another audition tape that was made for Kubrick that year. It was by a young actor at Juilliard named Brian Atene, and the pomposity of his intro speech as well as the over-the-top acting in a scene “loosely based upon” S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders struck a chord among Internet users.

In the intro to the video, He likens himself to “a young Alec Guinness” (the kid had taste, anyway) and calls the intended recipient of the tape, Stanley Kubrick, “one of the greatest directors of all time,” if not quite the equal of “Michael Curtiz, director of The Sea Hawk.” My favorite bit from the video comes when Atene says, “My favorite composer is Erich Wolfgang Korngold, when I was 12 years old I won a spaniel puppy for 50 cents and my favorite color is green.” Now that is a troika of facts that hangs together nicely.

The performance was not perhaps overly terrible but certainly quite histrionic. A host of parody videos were hurriedly concocted, and eventually Atene himself, now in his 40s, came out with a response video—but it only had the effect of fanning the flames.  Among other things we learned that Atene made two videos for Kubrick, and the one that went viral 22 years after its creation was the one he didn’t send to the director.

I find it very difficult to be too hard on Atene because I probably wasn’t all that different when I was his age. A little pretentiousness and self-importance aren’t so bad in a young person who is desirous of leading a life in the arts, right?

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Godfather’: Robert De Niro’s audition tape for the role of ‘Sonny’
Watch Matthew McConaughey’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ audition

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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