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« Kubrick | Main | Kubrick re-redux »

July 12, 2002

Kubrick redux

Michael --

I think your remark about Kubrick's tendency to set up one "number" after another is exactly on point. He wants, in the context of a narrative film, to create a series of little theatre pieces. It's perfectly analogous to Hogarth's serial paintings, except that Kubrick prefers a much more reductionist asethetic (Hogarth has a little too much life going on in the corners for Stanley, or at least for the later Stanley.) Many of Stanley's formal devices are designed to force the ordinarily "naturalistic" film aesthetic into a theatrical context. Think of the use of symmetrical compositions in "Paths of Glory" which even manage to theatricalize the execution scenes, held outdoors in natural light in deep focus (!!!). Or the obvious rear screen projection behind Slim Pickens as he rides the bomb down to glory in "Dr. Strangelove." While this approach has always held a definite appeal to me, it only works for me as long as it is in tension with a strong narrative (which sets up opportunities for humor, irony, etc. in his rather static theatre pieces). I think the disappointment of his later films for me is that he didn't find good enough strong stories to provide tension to his rather obsessive focus.


posted by Friedrich at July 12, 2002


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