Stanley Kubrick interviews and biographies: selected notes
Compiled by Rob Ager 2008
In recent weeks I have read through several interviews and biographies of Stanley Kubrick to glean new information about his methods, character and artistic leanings. In this article I have compiled what I consider to be some of the more interesting stories and quotes from these sources.
In some instances these notes serve as additional support for my own film analysis videos and articles relating to Kubrick’s films, in particular the monolith of 2001 as a symbolic cinema screen rotated 90 degrees. On that basis the notes are primarily related to the more cryptic phase of his career (from 2001 through to Eyes Wide Shut) in which Kubrick used multiple narratives and complex subliminals. These seemed to be absent from his earlier works.
For those wishing to enhance their own film making skills there is also plenty of good advice in this article, sometimes quoted in Kubrick’s own words and sometimes through the observations of his collaborators.
I’ve also included snippets of info here purely out of my own puzzlement and amusement, regarding some of Kubrick’s unusual work habits.
The majority of these notes are quoted exactly as worded from the original sources, but on occasion I have condensed large sections of text into short summaries.
I don’t like to talk about 2001 too much because it’s essentially a non-verbal experience. It attempts to communicate more to the subconscious and to the feelings than it does to the intellect. I think clearly there’s a problem with people who are not paying attention with their eyes. They’re listening. And they don’t get much from listening to this film. Those who won’t believe their eyes won’t be able to appreciate this film. - Kubrick talking to Jerome Agel, page 277 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
At one point a private contractor was asked to mold a large block of Lucite. Kubrick was interested in experimenting with projecting images onto its surface (the monolith). The block was cast and received a lot of newspaper coverage about it being the largest casting of plastic ever attempted. The optics weren’t up to Kubrick’s standards, though, and he scrapped the idea. – production of 2001, p280 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Kubrick was revising the novel (2001) with Clarke and simultaneously preparing his shooting script … At the end of August Clarke decided that the novel should end with Bowman standing beside an alien ship. Kubrick was not satisfied with this conclusion and the search went on. - p283 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
For a handheld shot that followed Dr Floyd and the team as they walked down a ramp into the excavation toward the monolith, Kubrick manned the camera himself. - p285 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
The senior NASA administrator of the Apollo project, George Mueller, and astronaut chief Deke Slayton came to visit the 2001 set. - p286 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
At times he (Kubrick) would give two separate crews the same objective so they would work hard to compete with each other. - p287 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Clarke attempted to convince Kubrick that the novel’s manuscript was ready for publication. Kubrick was still unwilling to declare the novel finalized … Clarke firmly stated that he was the writer and should have the clout to pronounce the novel complete. Clarke was frustrated that he had lost $15,000 in commissions while working on the lengthy revisions of the novel. - p298 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Clarke was in debt and tried to get a publishing contract signed with Delacorte Press, but Kubrick refused to sign, even after Delacorte had spent $10,000 on the project. Kubrick would immediately praise the new version, then within a few days point out flaws, errors and imperfections until the new prose crumbled into worthless fragments. - p299 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
The art department prepared a flow of abstract creations utilizing op art paintings, architectural drawings, printed circuits and electron microscope photographs of crystal and molecular structures. – special effects of the stargate, p303 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
In the sequence where he (Bowman) is being locked outside, and doesn’t have his helmet on, some films are being projected onto his face. It makes no sense, but looks great. - Douglas Trumball discussing special effects for 2001, quoted from p304 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Never! He never talked about the philosophy of the film to us. – Kier Dullea (actor ‘Dave Bowman’ 2001) p305 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Kubrick made numerous substantive excisions after a contractually bound screening for MGM executives …The prologue of experts discussing the possible existence of extraterrestrials was cut from the work print. In an attempt to give even more power to the film’s visuals, a voiceover narration that helped explain many of the film’s scientific and philosophical principles was also removed. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a new kind of nonnarrative feature film. - p308 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Kubrick called his central production office for 2001 ‘mission control’. The astronauts in the film also had frequent communications with ‘mission control’.
Sydney Kramer of New American Library, buying the book rights after seeing the film previewed – “Okay, I’ll buy it, purely on your recommendation, because I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t know what the hell this picture is all about!” - p310 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Kubrick / Clarke had a 60/40 deal on the book - p310 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
On April 5th (1968), in New York City, Kubrick cut 17 minutes out of the 156 minute version (of 2001: A Space Odyssey) that had been screened for film critics. - p310 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
IBM, the company that personified computers, was not happy with a film that featured a computer that murdered people. Kubrick had removed prominent IBM logos from pieces of equipment on the set, but some still remained on the instrument panels of the Discovery. Management frowned upon mention of the film and counselled their employees against seeing 2001. - p314-315 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
If you accept the idea that one views a film in a state of ‘daydream,’ then this symbolic dreamlike content becomes a powerful factor in influencing your feelings about the film. Since your dreams can take you into areas which can never be a part of your conscious mind, I think a work of art can ‘operate’ on you in much the same way as a dream does. – Kubrick talking about A Clockwork Orange to Andrew Bailey, p340 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
2001, on the other hand, is basically a visual, nonverbal experience. It avoids intellectual verbalization and reaches the viewer's subconscious in a way that is essentially poetic and philosophic. The film thus becomes a subjective experience which hits the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does, or painting. – Kubrick interviewed by Joseph Gelmis 1969
The final scenes of the film seemed more metaphorical than realistic. Will you discuss them -- or would that be part of the "road map" you're trying to avoid?
No, I don't mind discussing it, on the lowest level, that is, straightforward explanation of the plot. You begin with an artifact left on earth four million years ago by extraterrestrial explorers who observed the behavior of the man-apes of the time and decided to influence their evolutionary progression. Then you have a second artifact buried deep on the lunar surface and programmed to signal word of man's first baby steps into the universe -- a kind of cosmic burglar alarm. And finally there's a third artifact placed in orbit around Jupiter and waiting for the time when man has reached the outer rim of his own solar system.
When the surviving astronaut, Bowman, ultimately reaches Jupiter, this artifact sweeps him into a force field or star gate that hurls him on a journey through inner and outer space and finally transports him to another part of the galaxy, where he's placed in a human zoo approximating a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. In a timeless state, his life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being, a star child, an angel, a superman, if you like, and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward of man's evolutionary destiny.
That is what happens on the film's simplest level. Since an encounter with an advanced interstellar intelligence would be incomprehensible within our present earthbound frames of reference, reactions to it will have elements of philosophy and metaphysics that have nothing to do with the bare plot outline itself.
What are those areas of meaning?
They are the areas I prefer not to discuss because they are highly subjective and will differ from viewer to viewer. In this sense, the film becomes anything the viewer sees in it. If the film stirs the emotions and penetrates the subconscious of the viewer, if it stimulates, however inchoately, his mythological and religious yearnings and impulses, then it has succeeded.
– Kubrick interviewed by Joseph Gelmis 1969
It's a totally different kind of experience, of course, and 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. – Kubrick interviewed by Joseph Gelmis 1969
To take one specific, in the novel the black monolith found by curious man- apes three million years ago does explicit things which it doesn't do in the film. In the movie, it has an apparent catalytic effect which enables the ape to discover how to use a bone as a weapon-tool. In the novel, the slab becomes milky and luminous and we're told it's a testing and teaching device used by higher intelligences to determine if the apes are worth helping. Was that in the original screenplay? When was it cut out of the film?
Yes, it was in the original treatment but I eventually decided that to depict the monolith in such an explicit manner would be to run the risk of making it appear no more than an advanced television teaching machine. You can get away with something so literal in print, but I felt that we could create a far more powerful and magical effect by representing it as we did in the film. – Kubrick interviewed by Joseph Gelmis 1969
I think that the divergences between the two works (2001 film and novel) are interesting. Actually, it was an unprecedented situation for someone to do an essentially original literary work based on glimpses and segments of a film he (Arthur C Clarke) had not yet seen in its entirety. – Kubrick interviewed by Joseph Gelmis 1969
Nothing is cut without me. I'm in there every second, and for all practical purposes I cut my own film; I mark every frame, select each segment, and have everything done exactly the way I want it. Writing, shooting, and editing are what you have to do to make a film. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
I think, in addition to the personal qualities I mentioned, there is the basic psychological, unconscious identification with Alex. If you look at the story not on the social and moral level, but on the psychological dream content level, you can regard Alex as a creature of the id. He is within all of us. In most cases, this recognition seems to bring a kind of empathy from the audience, but it makes some people very angry and uncomfortable. They are unable to accept this view of themselves and, therefore, they become angry at the film. It's a bit like the King who kills the messenger who brings him bad news and rewards the one who brings him good news. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
There is no positive evidence that violence in films or television causes social violence. To focus one's interest on this aspect of violence is to ignore the principal causes, which I would list as:
1. Original sin: the religious view.
2. Unjust economic exploitation: the Marxist view.
3. Emotional and psychological frustration: the psychological view.
4. Genetic factors based on the 'Y' chromosome theory: the biological view.
5. Man, the killer ape: the evolutionary view.
To try to fasten any responsibility on art as the cause of life seems to me to put the case the wrong way around. Art consists of reshaping life but it does not create life, nor cause life. Furthermore to attribute powerful suggestive qualities to a film is at odds with the scientifically accepted view that, even after deep hypnosis, in a posthypnotic state, people cannot be made to do things which are at odds with their natures. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
Were you looking after the hand-held camera for the fight with the Cat Lady?
Yes, all of the hand-held camerawork is mine. In addition to the fun of doing the shooting myself, I find it is virtually impossible to explain what you want in a hand-held shot to even the most talented and sensitive camera operator. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
When you think of the greatest moments of film, I think you are almost always involved with images rather than scenes, and certainly never dialogue. The thing a film does best is to use pictures with music and I think these are the moments you remember. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
How much planning do you do before you shoot a scene?
As much as there are hours in the day, and days in the week. I think about a film almost continuously. I try to visualise it and I try to work out every conceivable variation of ideas which might exist with respect to the various scenes, but I have found that when you come down to the day the scene is going to be shot and you arrive on the location with the actors, having had the experience of already seeing some of the scenes shot, somehow it's always different. You find out that you have not really explored the scene to it' fullest extent. You may have been thinking about it incorrectly, or you may simply not have discovered one of the variations which now in context with everything else that you have shot is simply better than anything you had previously thought of. The reality of the final moment, just before shooting, is so powerful that all previous analysis must yield before the impressions you receive under these circumstances, and unless you use this feedback to your positive advantage, unless adjust to it, adapt to it and accept the sometimes terrifying weaknesses it can expose, you can never realise the most out of your film. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
When I'm editing, I'm only concerned with the questions of 'Is it good or bad?' 'Is it necessary?' 'Can I get rid of it ?' 'Does it work ?' My identity changes to that of an editor. I am never concerned with how much difficulty there was to shoot something, how much it cost, and so forth. I look at the material with completely different eyes. I'm never troubled losing material. I cut everything to the bone. When you're shooting, you want to make sure you don't miss anything and you cover it as fully as time and budget allow. When you're editing, you want to get rid of everything that isn't essential. - From the magazine Sight&Sound, Spring 1972
As the supernatural events occurred you searched for an explanation, and the most likely one seemed to be that the strange things that were happening would finally be explained as the products of Jack's imagination. It's not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural. The novel is by no means a serious literary work, but the plot is for the most part extremely well worked out, and for a film that is often all that really matters. – interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
Don't you think that today it is in this sort of popular literature that you find strong archetypes, symbolic images which have vanished somehow from the more highbrow literary works?
Yes, I do, and I think that it's part of their often phenomenal success. There is no doubt that a good story has always mattered, and the great novelists have generally built their work around strong plots. But I've never been able to decide whether the plot is just a way of keeping people's attention while you do everything else, or whether the plot is really more important than anything else, perhaps communicating with us on an unconscious level which affects us in the way that myths once did. I think, in some ways, the conventions of realistic fiction and drama may impose serious limitations on a story. For one thing, if you play by the rules and respect the preparation and pace required to establish realism, it takes a lot longer to make a point than it does, say, in fantasy. At the same time, it is possible that this very work that contributes to a story's realism may weaken its grip on the unconscious. Realism is probably the best way to dramatize argument and ideas. Fantasy may deal best with themes which lie primarily in the unconscious. I think the unconscious appeal of a ghost story, for instance, lies in its promise of immortality. If you can be frightened by a ghost story, then you must accept the possibility that supernatural beings exist. If they do, then there is more than just oblivion waiting beyond the grave. – interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
This kind of implication is present in much of the fantastic literature.
I believe fantasy stories at their best serve the same function for us that fairy tales and mythology formerly did. The current popularity of fantasy, particularly in films, suggests that popular culture, at least, isn't getting what it wants from realism. The nineteenth century was the golden age of realistic fiction. The twentieth century may be the golden age of fantasy. – interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
I try to avoid any systematic approach to reading, pursuing instead a random method, one which depends as much on luck and accident as on design. I find this is also the only way to deal with the newspapers and magazines which proliferate in great piles around the house -- some of the most interesting articles turn up on the reverse side of pages I've torn out for something else. – interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
When The Shining came up she (Diane Johnson) seemed to be the ideal collaborator, which, indeed, she proved to be. I had already been working on the treatment of the book, prior to her starting, but I hadn't actually begun the screenplay. With "The Shining," the problem was to extract the essential plot and to re-invent the sections of the story that were weak. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
The exterior of the hotel was filmed at the Timberline Lodge, near Mount Hood, in Oregon. It had a room 217 but no room 237, so the hotel management asked me to change the room number because they were afraid their guests might not want to stay in room 217 after seeing the film. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel. The hotel's labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere. interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
From the more convincing accounts I have read of people who have reported seeing ghosts, they were invariably described as being as solid and as real as someone actually standing in the room. The movie convention of the see-through ghost, shrouded in white, seems to exist only in the province of art. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
Most films are really little more than stage plays with more atmosphere and action. I think that the scope and flexibility of movie stories would be greatly enhanced by borrowing something from the structure of silent movies where points that didn't require dialog could be presented by a shot and a title card. Something like: Title: Billy's uncle. Picture: Uncle giving Billy ice cream. In a few seconds, you could introduce Billy's uncle and say something about him without being burdened with a scene. This economy of statement gives silent movies a much greater narrative scope and flexibility than we have today. In my view, there are very few sound films, including those regarded as masterpieces, which could not be presented almost as effectively on the stage, assuming a good set, the same cast and quality of performances. You couldn't do that with a great silent movie. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
Well, as I've said, in fantasy you want things to have the appearance of being as realistic as possible. People should behave in the mundane way they normally do. You have to be especially careful about this in the scenes which deal with the bizarre or fantastic details of the story. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
If Danny had perfect ESP, there could be no story. He would anticipate everything, warn everybody and solve every problem. So his perception of the paranormal must be imperfect and fragmentary. This also happens to be consistent with most of the reports of telepathic experiences. The same applies to Halloran. One of the ironies in the story is that you have people who can see the past and the future and have telepathic contact, but the telephone and the short-wave radio don't work, and the snowbound mountain roads are impassable. Failure of communication is a theme which runs through a number of my films. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
Most of the hotel set was built as a composite, so that you could go up a flight of stairs, turn down a corridor, travel its length and find your way to still another part of the hotel. It mirrored the kind of camera movements which took place in the maze. In order to fully exploit this layout it was necessary to have moving camera shots without cuts, and of course the Steadicam made that much easier to do. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
The title music was based on the Dies Irae theme which has been used by many composers since the Middle Ages. It was re-orchestrated for synthesizer and voices by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, who did most of the synthesizer music for A Clockwork Orange. Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta was used for several other scenes. One composition by Ligeti was used. But most of the music in the film came from the Polish composer Krystof Penderecki. One work titled Jakob's Dream was used in the scene when Jack wakes up from his nightmare, a strange coincidence. Actually there were a number of other coincidences, particularly with names. The character that Jack Nicholson plays is called Jack in the novel. His son is called Danny in the novel and is played by Danny Lloyd. The ghost bartender in the book is called Lloyd. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
The child creates a double to protect himself, whereas his father conjures up beings from the past who are also anticipations of his death.
A story of the supernatural cannot be taken apart and analysed too closely. The ultimate test of its rationale is whether it is good enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. If you submit it to a completely logical and detailed analysis it will eventually appear absurd. In his essay on the uncanny,Das Unheimliche, Freud said that the uncanny is the only feeling which is more powerfully experienced in art than in life. If the genre required any justification, I should think this alone would serve as its credentials. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
Jack comes to the hotel psychologically prepared to do its murderous bidding. He doesn't have very much further to go for his anger and frustration to become completely uncontrollable. He is bitter about his failure as a writer. He is married to a woman for whom he has only contempt. He hates his son. In the hotel, at the mercy of its powerful evil, he is quickly ready to fulfil his dark role. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
For the purposes of telling the story, my view is that the paranormal is genuine. Jack's mental state serves only to prepare him for the murder, and to temporarily mislead the audience. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
I suppose my excuse is that the picture was ready only a few weeks before it opened and I really had no time to do any interviews. But if I'm to be completely honest, it's probably due more to the fact that I don't like doing interviews. There is always the problem of being misquoted or, what's even worse, of being quoted exactly, and having to see what you've said in print. Then there are the mandatory -- "How did you get along with actor X, Y or Z?" -- "Who really thought of good idea A, B or C?" I think Nabokov may have had the right approach to interviews. He would only agree to write down the answers and then send them on to the interviewer who would then write the questions. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
I've always found it difficult to talk about any of my films. What I generally manage to do is to discuss the background information connected with the story, or perhaps some of the interesting facts which might be associated with it. This approach often allows me to avoid the "What does it mean? Why did you do it?" questions. For example, with Dr. Strangelove I could talk about the spectrum of bizarre ideas connected with the possibilities of accidental or unintentional warfare. 2001: A Space Odyssey allowed speculation about ultra-intelligent computers, life in the universe, and a whole range of science-fiction ideas. A Clockwork Orange involved law and order, criminal violence, authority versus freedom, etc. With Barry Lyndon you haven't got these topical issues to talk around, so I suppose that does make it a bit more difficult. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
You are an innovator, but at the same time you are very conscious of tradition.
I try to be, anyway. I think that one of the problems with twentieth-century art is its preoccupation with subjectivity and originality at the expense of everything else. This has been especially true in painting and music. Though initially stimulating, this soon impeded the full development of any particular style, and rewarded uninteresting and sterile originality. At the same time, it is very sad to say, films have had the opposite problem -- they have consistently tried to formalize and repeat success, and they have clung to a form and style introduced in their infancy. The sure thing is what everyone wants, and originality is not a nice word in this context. This is true despite the repeated example that nothing is as dangerous as a sure thing. - interview with Michael Ciment about The Shining
Kubrick used the the abbreviation CRM to describe what he called the Critical Rehearsal Moment – the detailed and time consuming development of “key” scenes in a film - p347 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
When I visited Stanley’s house I noticed lots of Turkish towels covering one wall. It runed out that they concealed his cross-reference system. He likes secrecy. – Malcolm McDowell talking to Paul D. Zimmerman, quoted from p356 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
People have written about the failure of culture in the twentieth century: the enigma of Nazis who listened to Beethoven and sent millions off to the gas chambers. – talking to Victor Davies of the Daily Express, quoted from p356 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Telling a story realistically is such a slowpoke and ponderous way to proceed, and it doesn’t fulfil the psychic needs that people have. – Kubrick talking to Paul D. Zimmerman, quoted from p360 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
High standards of moral behaviour can only be achieved by the example of right thinking people and society as a whole, and cannot be achieved by the coercive effect of the law. Or that of certain newspapers. – Kubrick responding to the Village Voices decision not to feature any promotional ads for A Clockwork Orange, quoted from p362 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
We have seen so many times that the body of a film serves merely as an excuse for motivating a final blood-crazed slaughter by the hero of his enemies, and at the same time to relieve the audience’s guilt of enjoying this mayhem. – Kubrick speaking to Andrew Bailey of Rolling Stone magazine, quoted from p363 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
During the self-imposed ban, Channel 4 in England ran a 25 minute documentary on A Clockwork Orange, which included 12 minutes and thirty seconds of the film. At Kubrick’s urging, Time Warner took legal action against the broadcaster. Channel 4 said it had a journalistic right due to the “fair use” provision of the 1988 copyright act. Time Warner claimed Channel 4 had obtained the images illegally by reproducing them from an American laser disc of the film. A court of appeals ruled in favour of Channel 4. - p370 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Variety speculated that Kubrick was filming a project previously announced by Warners, an adaptation of the Arthur Schnitzler novel Traumnovelle, which a press release described as a psychologically dramatic story of a doctor and his wife whose love is threatened by the revelation of their dreams. – during production of Barry Lyndon p384 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Kubrick’s deal with Warner Bros. was studio financing with Kubrick reaping 40 percent of all profits.” – production details of Barry Lyndon, p386 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
(movies) haven’t scratched the surface of how to tell stories in their own terms. – Kubrick speaking to Richard Schickel, quoted from p407 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
King had written a screenplay adaptation of his novel (The Shining) for Warner Bros before Kubrick became attached to it, but Kubrick chose not to read the script because he decided he wanted to infuse the skeleton of King’s story with his own ideas. - p412 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Johnson (co-writer on The Shining screenplay) and Kubrick worked together in England for three months in 1978 … Sitting at a big table in a large hall, Johnson and Kubrick first worked separately, outlining the film. They compared the two outlines and discussed each scene. The process was repeated two or three times as the plot evolved. - p414 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
It’s just the story of one man’s family quietly going insane together. – Kubrick discussing The Shining with John Hofsess, quoted from p415 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
An early treatment for the screenplay reveals that … A scrapbook on Jack’s writing table contains a photograph of a New Year’s celebration in 1999 with Jack in the photo. - p415 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
The exterior façade of the rear view of the Overlook hotel was built on the backlot of the EMI-Elstree studios and was modelled after the Timberline Lodge. - p416 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
In the bathroom scene outlined in the treatment, Jack encounters the living corpse of Grady’s murdered wife, but she is not first revealed as a young, seductive, beautiful, naked woman, as in the film. - p416 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
The shot where the camera follows Wendy up three flights of stairs and slows down just moving ahead of her when she sees two ghosts in the midst of a sexual act, became one of Garret Brown’s favorits – he got thirty-six opportunities to shoot it. – p425 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Annie, the actress who played the doctor in The Shining, was made to go shopping with Kubrick for clothes. She tried various outfits to which he repeatedly said “no” and told her to try the next one. Eventually she walked into his office and he pointed at the clothes she was already wearing and said “That’s what I want her to look like. Let’s get those clothes”. The strange thing was that they were the same clothes she was already wearing when she first met him to go shopping. Then after having Annie do endless takes of the scene in which she interviews Shelley, during which he refused to give her any direction or answer her questions, he used her very first take in the film. Annie, “I know he used the first take because there were many more colours in the first one than in the others.”
Also … Regarding the scene of her interviewing Danny on the bed, Kubrick rejected the notion that her character should be comforting to the child. He told Annie “I don’t want any of that, I want it very businesslike." – condensed from pages 427 to 429 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Barry Jackson told Annie that he had around thirty-five takes for saying one line “Hiya Jack”. - Condensed from p429 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
A single camera position of Scatman Crothers explaining The Shining to little Danny racked up 148 takes. The shot lasted seven minutes and Kubrick printed all of them - Condensed from p430 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
40 takes of Scatman Crothers being axed to death and 36 of Nicholson talking to Lloyd the barman – Condensed from p431 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
My contract was for a week. I just had two short scenes in the movie. I stayed for six weeks because Stanley and I were playing chess. I beat him in the first or second game we played, but then I didn’t beat him any more after that. - Tony Burton, who played Larry Durkin in The Shining (his scenes were cut from the European release of the film) p432 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Vivian was going around shooting us making the picture all the time. She had a little cart that she pushed around. You would be in conversation with Stanley, some debate or subject would come up and he would say ‘Yeah I was talking to Jack about that yesterday. Vivian, what was that Jack said?’ and she would go into the cart, find what the conversation was about and read it back to him. - Tony Burton, who played Larry Durkin in The Shining (his scenes were cut from the European release of the film) p434 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Kubrick had an exacting overhead-view map of the maze, which was used to get in and out and to plan shots. Copies were given to the crew, who nevertheless continued to get lost throughout the production. Garret Brown (steadicam inventor and operator) recalled that if you got lost and called out “Stanley!” Kubrick’s laughter seemed to come out from all directions inside the maze. - p437 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
For the shot where Danny backs up into his own footprints and hides to fool his father, who can’t figure out why the footsteps just stop, Garret Brown wore special stilts that had Danny’s shoes nailed to them so he could walk in the child’s footprints. - p438 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Note: Irony – The Shining book ends with Overlook burning down. In the film Grady talks of his daughter’s trying to burn it down, and the actual set partially burned down.
In one scene I had to get out of the Sno-Cat and walk across the street. No dialogue. Fifty takes. He had Shelley, Jack and the kid walk across the street. Eighty-seven takes. Man, he always wants something new, and he doesn’t stop until he gets it. – Actor Scatman Crothers (Halloran in The Shining) p443 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
I’m a great off-stage grumbler. I complained that he was the only director to light the sets with no stand-ins. We had to be there even to be lit. Just because you’re a perfectionist doesn’t mean you’re perfect. - Jack Nicholsonp443Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
The final shot in the film was the last one to actually be shot on the set. Tony Burton, “They shot that for days. Stanley would just look at the monitor and say ‘Let’s go again.’ They couldn’t get a third of the way across the lobby. It took them a week before they got a third of the way across. Stanley kept seeing bumps – he wanted it to be smooth. So they changed the cart on the dolly. Then they put it on a track. Then they changed the wheels. Then they put some more weight on it. Then it wasn’t enough weight. They put more people on it. People were hanging onto this cart trying to keep still so they could get this shot.” - P443Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Tony Burton, “I don’t know how many times they shot the blood in the elevator. Somebody told me they had been shooting that ever since the shoot first started the year before. They shot it three times while I was there. About every ten days they would shoot it again and Stanley would say ‘It doesn’t look like blood,’ and they would say, ‘Well, is it the texture? Is it the colour?’ It would take them like nine days to set the shot up and then they would come back, the door would open, it would come out and Stanley would say, ‘It doesn’t look like blood.’ But finally they got it.” - P444Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Note: Two girls in The Shining, possibly inspired by Twin Girls photo by Diane Arbus, who had once “taken Kubrick under her wing”.
We were shown an incomplete film. There were great gobs of scenes that never made it into the film. There was a whole strange and mystical scene in which Jack Nicholson discovers objects that have been arranged in his working space in the ballroom with arrows and things. He walks down and thinks he hears a voice and someone throws a ball back to him. - Wendy Carlos discussing production of The Shining score, P447 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
I literally go into bookstores, close my eyes and take things off the shelf. If I don’t like that book after a bit, I don’t finish it, but I like to be surprised. – talking to Tim Cahill of Rolling Stone, quoted from P458 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
Vietnam was such a phony war, in terms of the hawkish technocrats fine-tuning the facts like an ad agency, talking of ‘kill ratios’ and ‘hamlet pacification’ and encouraging men to falsify a body count or at least total up the ‘blood trails’ on the supposition they would lead to bodies. – talking to Alexander Walker, quoted from P458 Stanley Kubrick by Vincent Lobrutto
I'm not going to be asked any conceptualizing questions, right? … It's the thing I hate the worst. … The truth is that I've always felt trapped and pinned down and harried by those questions.
You feel the real question lurking behind all the verbiage is "What does this new movie mean?
Exactly. And that's almost impossible to answer, especially when you've been so deeply inside the film for so long. Some people demand a five-line capsule summary. Something you'd read in a magazine. They want you to say, "This is the story of the duality of man and the duplicity of governments." [A pretty good description of the subtext that informs Full Metal Jacket, actually.] I hear people try to do it -- give the five-line summary -- but if a film has any substance or subtlety, whatever you say is never complete, it's usually wrong, and it's necessarily simplistic: truth is too multifaceted to be contained in a five-line summary. If the work is good, what you say about it is usually irrelevant.
So your purpose wasn't to poke the viewer in the ribs, point out certain similarities...
Oh, God, no. I'm trying to be true to the material. You know, there's another extraordinary accident. Cowboy is dying, and in the background there's something that looks very much like the monolith in 2001. And it just happened to be there.
The whole area of combat was one complete area -- it actually exists. One of the things I tried to do was give you a sense of where you were, where everything else was. Which, in war movies, is something you frequently don't get. The terrain of small-unit action is really the story of the action. And this is something we tried to make beautifully clear: there's a low wall, there's the building space. And once you get in there, everything is exactly where it actually was. No cutting away, no cheating. So it came down to where the sniper would be and where the marines were. When Cowboy is shot, they carry him around the corner -- to the very most logical shelter. And there, in the background, was this thing, this monolith. I'm sure some people will think that there was some calculated reference to 2001, but honestly, it was just there.
You don't think you're going to get away with that, do you?
[Laughs] I know it's an amazing coincidence. - Kubrick interviewed by Tim Cahill for Rolling Stone.
What I like about not writing original material -- which I'm not even certain I could do -- is that you have this tremendous advantage of reading something for the first time. You never have this experience again with the story. You have a reaction to it: it's a kind of falling-in-love reaction.
That's the first thing. Then it becomes almost a matter of code breaking, of breaking the work down into a structure that is truthful, that doesn't lose the ideas or the content or the feeling of the book. And fitting it all into the much more limited time frame of a movie. - Kubrick interviewed by Tim Cahill for Rolling Stone.
This is a different drill instructor than the one Lou Gosset played in An Officer and a Gentleman.
I think Lou Gosset's performance was wonderful, but he had to do what he was given in the story. The film clearly wants to ingratiate itself with the audience. So many films do that. You show the drill instructor really has a heart of gold -- the mandatory scene where he sits in his office, eyes swimming with pride about the boys and so forth. I suppose he actually is proud, but there's a danger of falling into what amounts to so much sentimental bullshit. - Kubrick interviewed by Tim Cahill for Rolling Stone.
The questions are always, is it true? Is it interesting? To worry about those mandatory scenes that some people think make a picture is often just pandering to some conception of an audience. Some films try to outguess an audience. They try to ingratiate themselves, and it's not something you really have to do. Certainly audiences have flocked to see films that are not essentially true, but I don't think this prevents them from responding to the truth. - Kubrick interviewed by Tim Cahill for Rolling Stone.
Stanley always acted like he knew something you didn’t know. – p4 Kubrick by Michael Herr
Kubrick had read through Traumnovelle more than twenty years before and bought the rights to it in the early seventies. – p7, Kubrick by Michael Herr
He’d never talk about his movies while he was making them, and he didn’t like talking about them afterward very much … Most of all he didn’t want to talk about their ‘meaning’ … He might tell you how he did it, but never why. – p71, Kubrick by Michael Herr
Somebody asked him how he thought of the ending of 2001. ‘I don’t know’, he said, ‘How does anyone ever think of anything?’ – P4, Kubrick by Michael Herr
Don’t laugh, but I’m fascinated with the possibility of extra-terrestrials. - Kubrick speaking to Roger Caras, Columbia film publicist, p201 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
Among the possibilities they (Kubrick and Clarke) discussed was a Rand Corporation report on the possibility of life on other planets, which Kubrick had read during his research on nuclear warfare, and which had already contributed to the framing ‘documentary by aliens’ device planned for Dr Strangelove. - p205 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
To the Moon and Beyond was a Canadian documentary film viewed by Kubrick during his research for 2001.
Original title of 2001: A Space Odyssey was How The Solar System Was Won (also went by the title Journey Beyond The Stars) – Condensed from p208 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
If you want to see god laugh, tell him your plans. - p210 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
A scene cut from 2001 was “Howard Johnson’s Earthlight Room.” Howard Johnson’s is a chain of restaurants and hotels in North America.
Luton Hoo stately home was used for scenes in both Eyes Wide Shut, 2001
Arthur C. Clarke, back in Ceylon, continued to wrangle with Kubrick about the novel, the final text of which the director still refused to approve. Each time Clarke felt sure the script and book were set, Kubrick would cable him for some more dialogue or a new scene, none of which, Clarke claimed, ever found their way into the film. … Kubrick almost certainly did delay the book in order to protect the film. The film took on its own life as it was being made, and Clarke became increasingly irrelevant. Kubrick could probably have shot 2001 from a treatment, since most of what Clarke wrote, in particular some windy voice-overs which explained the level of intelligence reached by the ape men, the geological state of the world at the dawn of man, the problems of life on the Discovery and much more, was discarded during the last days of editing, along with the explanation of HALs breakdown. - p227 / 228 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
When 2001 was sold to tv, Kubrick attempted to prevent the use of pan-and-scan by urging that the film be shown in ‘letterbox’ format, with a black area at the top and bottom. – p252 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
The erotic décor in the film (Clockwork Orange) suggests a slightly futuristic period for the story. The assumption being that erotic art will eventually become popular art, and just as you now buy African wildlife paintings at Woolworth’s, you may one day buy erotica. – Kubrick talking about ACO p254 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
Attempts by writers to examine his life or career in detail were scrutinized and, more often than not, thwarted, usually by the same method. Kubrick would initially agree to co-operate, on condition that he had the right to authorize the text. He would then withhold approval until the deadline passed or the writer lost patience. In 1968 the magazine Books recorded eight hours of conversation under this restriction, but was permitted to use only four sentences. – p297 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
Why are you telling me that? I can’t do anything if it’s good news. It’s only when there are problems that I can intervene. – Kubrick talking to Julian Senior, quoted from p310 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
For the scene in which Halloran shows Wendy and Danny through the storage rooms of the kitchen, Kubrick demanded eighty-five takes, in the middle of which Crothers broke down and cried in frustration. ‘What do you want, Mr Kubrick?’ he screamed, ‘What do you want?!’ … Nobody was ever sure if this system bore fruit. - p316 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
That long tracking shot where Jack Nicholson pursued Shelley Duvall up the staircase while she’s waving a baseball bat at him was taken fifty or sixty times. Typically, Nicholson’s first take would be absolutely brilliant. Then the thing would start to get stale after about ten takes. … the impression I got is that Stanley tended to go for the most eccentric and rather over-the-top ones. There were plenty of times when Stanley and I were viewing the stuff where my private choice of the best performance – or sometimes he would ask me – wasn’t in, while the more eccentric one was. - Gordon Stainforth on editing The Shining, quoted from p317 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
Kubrick said he’d been rethinking ‘Super Toys’ (A.I), in particular another of its characters. Henry Swinton, David’s ‘father’, is an android engineer who has just launched a new product, a synthetic ‘serving man’ with a computer brain ‘capable of dealing with any situation he may encounter in the home’. Kubrick told Shaw that the serving man was the key to the story. He offered him a six week contract to work on the script. Before Shaw left, Kubrick gave him copies of Aldiss’s story, Pinocchio and a book called Mind Children, about artificial intelligence, and said he wanted all these combined in the script. … (A week later) I read him out my treatment, but I could see his face getting gloomier and gloomier. ‘Finally he stopped me and said, “What’s all this stuff about the butler?”’ – Bob Shaw on working on the A.I script, quoted from p357-358 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
Kubrick took over the Rothschild’s giant country house Mentmore for some scenes, and hired an entire floor of London’s Lanesborough Hotel for a week, including its $6,000 a night Royal Suite. Retracing his 2001 steps, Kubrick began shooting at the mansion of Luton Hoo, which had been the site for an unused portion of the earlier film. - Shooting of Eyes Wide Shut, p363 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter
You may one day be as great a film-maker as myself, if only you oppose utterly and to the limits of your energy every attempt to impose on your work any will but your own. – Quoted from p364 Stanley Kubrick: A Biography by John Baxter