Camera and Sound
Melanie Viner Cuneo
Produced and Directed by
Stanley Kubrick (stan’lē kōōbrik), adj. controlling; controversial; demanding; demented; eccentric; genius; hermetic; enigmatic; loved and loathed; legendary; megalomaniacal; meticulous; obsessed; perfectionistic; domineering; unfathomable; phobic; subversive; reclusive; secret; shocking; liked to say no; tyrannical; mysterious.
That’s a definition the press and the world at large embraced for years.
But is it possible to so easily describe a man -- especially one of such complex brilliance -- as Stanley Kubrick? Widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers, Kubrick was ultimately an amalgam of his life experiences with his own unique stamp of individuality.
Now for the first time ever, the public is given a glimpse of the real Stanley Kubrick in Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, a powerful new 2 hour and 20 minute documentary, narrated by Tom Cruise, which debuts June 12 exclusively on video and DVD. The Warner Home Video release was produced and directed by Jan Harlan, longtime Kubrick associate who embarked on this exceptional project with other Kubrick fellow filmmakers -- editor Melanie Viner Cuneo, associate producer Anthony Frewin and camera/soundman Manuel Harlan. Christiane Kubrick, the director’s wife of more than 42 years, lent her full support, including the contribution of rare personal film footage and family photographs.
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures will be part of a special eight-title gift set also being released June 12 simultaneously with the new Stanley Kubrick Collection -- seven Kubrick masterpieces in stunning new digital transfers.
Made with the Kubrick family’s co-operation, this full-length documentary presents a never-before-seen, revealing portrait of Kubrick, sometimes in his own words, at work and with his family. It’s a surprising portrait, defining Kubrick not in narrow terms, but as genuinely accessible -- passionate, funny, loyal, angry, brilliant, introspective -- full of the myriad qualities found in all human beings.
Also remarkable are the unique recollections and insights of Kubrick’s friends, family and colleagues. Individually, they provide bits and pieces of a mosaic which, when assembled, gives a strikingly different view of the man and what influenced him as a filmmaker. Among those paying tribute are Woody Allen, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Shelley Duvall, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Christiane Kubrick, Paul Mazursky, Malcolm McDowell, Matthew Modine, Jack Nicholson, Alan Parker, Sydney Pollack, Richard Schickel, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Douglas Trumbull and Sir Peter Ustinov.
About the Production
The idea for Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures came from longtime Kubrick associate, Jan Harlan. After Kubrick’s untimely death in 1999, the shock and sorrow was intense for Kubrick’s family and friends. As he mourned, Harlan became determined to pay homage to a man he
called “not only a great director, but also a great mentor.” His first order of business, however, was to supervise “Eyes Wide Shut” through to its theatrical release, preserving the way Kubrick would have finished the film, including the final sound mix and timing of the theatrical prints.
“I was sitting in Terry Semel’s [former Warner Bros. Chairman] office, shortly after Stanley died and prior to the ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ release, and I happened to mention the project. Terry was like me, he had worked with Stanley forever, and he approved the documentary on the spot.”
When Semel later left the studio, Warren Lieberfarb, President of Warner Home Video, continued championing the film and offered his complete support, thus ensuring that Harlan’s vision would be realized. “It was an easy decision to make,” remembers Lieberfarb. “Stanley Kubrick is one of the great film directors of our time and his continuing influence on motion pictures is profound. It was only appropriate that he should be honored in this way.”
After the successful release of “Eyes Wide Shut,” Harlan and fellow Kubrick associates turned their attention to the documentary. With the full cooperation of Christiane Kubrick, Jan Harlan began to assemble a collection of clips from Stanley’s films and to schedule on-camera interviews with the mile-long list of actors, peers, friends and family who shared their reminiscences.
Harlan’s concept was simple. Having worked closely with Kubrick for 30 years, he would create the definitive documentary, one that erased countless unsubstantiated rumors about a man who guarded his privacy so closely. The rumors ran the gamut -- from Kubrick’s lifestyle to his business and personal relationships, indeed, to his very sanity.
Fueling the talk was the fact that more than a decade had passed between Kubrick’s final film, “Eyes Wide Shut” and his previous effort, “Full Metal Jacket.” Both journalists and movie fans wondered whether Kubrick might have turned into a latter day Howard Hughes. Of course, at no time was Kubrick ever regarded as prolific -- he only made 14 feature films in his lifetime -- but this lengthy gap was unprecedented and the gossip persisted.
“We really wanted to set the record straight about Stanley,” Harlan explained. “So much had been said about him over the years that was simply not true. This would be an opportunity for those of us who knew him so well to have our say.”
Harlan wanted the documentary to accomplish other things as well. First, while he would reveal material never offered anywhere, he didn’t intend to present any final judgments. “That was just the way Stanley treated his own work,” says Harlan. “He never publicly analyzed his films, because he hoped viewers would arrive at their own conclusions. Stanley always said he wanted to take people to a place they couldn’t otherwise have known. It wasn’t for him to tell them where that was.”
Harlan also sought to leave a legacy of the famed director that would encourage continued dialogue with audiences. “We want to challenge people, because Stanley challenged us; we hope to entice and captivate, because that’s what he did; and, like Stanley, we wanted the audience to pay attention to the smallest details on the canvas of his life, much like an intricate painting.”
Shooting and Editing
Filming took place over 12 months with Manuel Harlan serving as camera and soundman. Manuel Harlan explained, “It was definitely a daunting task to film the interviews, knowing the result would be intercut with the film clips from Stanley’s masterfully lit and composed shots. Despite time constraints, we tried hard and, I believe, often succeeded in getting just the right matching look of the interviews. It would have been quite jarring if the interviews appeared as hurriedly lit...as they often were!”
Altogether nearly 60 hours of interview footage was compiled and reducing this vast amount was, in part, the task of the hugely talented film editor, Melanie Viner Cuneo. Working closely with Jan Harlan, she was able to establish a fast pace while still doing justice to Kubrick as well as to those who spoke on camera. “It was a wealth of riches,” says Viner Cuneo. “There was so much wonderful material, it was a shame we couldn’t use it all. I think Stanley would have been pleased.”
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures presents a multi-faceted view of the filmmaker that both satisfies and leaves audiences wishing to know more. Shelley Duvall, who is shown being severely criticized by Kubrick during the filming of “The Shining,” says, “For a person so charming and so likeable, indeed, loveable, he [could] do some pretty cruel things. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Why? Because of Stanley. But I wouldn’t want to go through it again.” Malcolm McDowell talks glowingly of the friendship he forged with Kubrick during the filming of “A Clockwork Orange,” and then of his disappointment when it was abruptly cut off. Over the years he hoped for Kubrick to “pick up the phone and call me…but of course, he never did.”
Longtime Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali, recalling Kubrick’s extreme kindness to him when Vitali had fallen ill for an extended period, says, “He was everything you could want.”
Woody Allen links Kubrick and Orson Welles as the two greatest American directors, and candidly admits that when he first saw “2001,” he didn't like it; only after repeated viewings did he come to admire the film. In fact, just about every Kubrick film was initially greeted with reservation by many critics and commentators, and only after a period of time did their status as something truly special emerge.
Of his supportive working style, Douglas Trumbull, who designed the “stargate” sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey” while still a very young man, says Kubrick gave him carte blanche to “explore, experiment, take risks and produce something that was different.” Other stories reveal Kubrick’s unique perspective. While preparing for his role as the murderous husband in “The Shining,” Jack Nicholson recalls being told by Kubrick that he considered it to be an optimistic picture, declaring, “In some ways this movie is about ghosts. Anything that says there’s something after death is an optimistic story.” And some of the stories are touchingly personal, as when Mrs. Kubrick speaks of first meeting her husband-to-be during her interview for the role she ultimately won in “Paths of Glory.” “I thought he looked extraordinary. And he just sat there beaming at me, grinning at me -- and I must have grinned back. And [he kept on smiling] at me for 43 years afterwards.”
Perhaps most enlightening of all for the filmmakers was the treasure trove of unique film footage and photographs, made available by Christiane Kubrick, which truly bring the viewer closer to Kubrick, the man. Mrs. Kubrick offers, “When you see home movies of Stanley jumping and playing as a child, you realize the sense of joy that he had never left him as an adult. Along with a great deal of other material that has been included, we hope that audiences will get a feel for where Stanley came from and how he lived his life.”
Harlan admits that Stanley Kubrick was many different things to many different people. He concludes, “My main point in making this film was to show audiences a good time as they watched the life and work of a great artist who had passed by them.”
About The Filmmakers
JAN HARLAN is the producer and director of Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, the first full-length documentary made with the cooperation of the Kubrick family. The labor of love marks his directorial debut.
Harlan first began working with Stanley Kubrick in 1969 as a special assistant during the preparation of “Napoleon,” which was to be filmed in Romania, and which over time became a Kubrick project that attained near-mythical status as one of the most well-known films never made. He remained with Kubrick for the next thirty years, serving as his assistant on “A Clockwork Orange” and executive producer on “Barry Lyndon,” “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “Eyes Wide Shut.” He was also executive producer on two projects that Kubrick did not live to complete -- “Aryan Papers” and “A.I.” (“Artificial Intelligence”), the latter now nearing completion by Steven Spielberg.
ANTHONY FREWIN serves as associate producer of Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. He began his association with Stanley Kubrick as an assistant on the pre-production of “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 1965, remaining with him until 1969. He moved on to become an editor and book designer in the 1970s and then returned to work with Kubrick as an assistant in 1979. He continued to work with him until Kubrick’s death in 1999. All together, Frewin worked a total of nearly 25 years with the acclaimed director.
Frewin is the author of 12 books, both fiction and non-fiction, including London Blues, Sixty-three Closure and Scorpion Rising. He has said that if not for Kubrick, he would never have starting writing. “I was 17 when Stanley first employed me and he had more confidence in me than I had in myself. He pushed me and made me realize, like he made all of us realize, that the only limit on our achievement is our imagination.”
MELANIE VINER CUNEO is the film editor for Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. She began working with Stanley Kubrick in 1997 on “Eyes Wide Shut.” For 2 1/2 years she was side by side with him, seeing the production through to its final stages as first assistant editor. Her experience of working so closely with Kubrick in the latter portion of his life gave her an insight that was central to her creative contributions as the editor of Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. Other directors and editors she has worked with include Kenneth Branagh and Tony Lawson, the editor of “Barry Lyndon.”
Of her association with Kubrick, Viner Cuneo says, “Stanley is an inspiration for all of us who worked with him -- a director who marched to his own drummer and never compromised his own unique vision.” Jan Harlan says, “We were grateful that, among the many things Melanie learned from Stanley is to never give up, but dig in your heels until a solution is found!”
MANUEL HARLAN served as camera/soundman on Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. He worked for Kubrick on “Full Metal Jacket” as video assist operator and on “Eyes Wide Shut” as location researcher and finally as unit stills photographer -- the first stills photographer allowed on a Kubrick set since “A Clockwork Orange.” During the decade between these two films, Harlan earned a degree at the University of Manchester, studied drama at the London Guild Hall and was a professional actor for several years. He has since returned to photography and has made a career as production photographer for BBC-TV, Film Four, the Royal Shakespeare Company and numerous other film and stage companies.
Manuel Harlan says of Kubrick, “I think people forget that Stanley was a photographer before he became a film director. He was the youngest staff photographer ever employed by Look magazine and the keen photographic eye that he developed never deserted him. I feel tremendously privileged to have worked with him. He is an enduring inspiration."
About Christiane Kubrick
CHRISTIANE KUBRICK (née Christiane Susanne Harlan) comes from a family of musicians, actors and playwrights. Born in Braunschweig, Germany, she had established herself as a successful stage and film actress when she was cast in Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” in 1957. Her haunting performance as the German girl who sings to the troops in the café at the end of the acclaimed World War I film made a huge impression on audiences everywhere -- as well as on the film’s director. Shortly thereafter, she and Kubrick married and the couple remained together until his death in 1999. They had three children, Katharina, Anya and Vivian, who continue to be close to their mother.
Throughout her life, Christiane’s creative passion has been painting. A respected artist, she works in oils and watercolors. She also etches and sculpts and has designed the costumes and scenery for a number of opera productions. She has had success in the publishing world with her book, Paintings, which has been published in both New York and London. She also maintains a website devoted to her oil paintings, drawings and etchings, www.christianekubrick.net. Christiane’s current projects include a CD-ROM that explores the technique and interpretation of paintings and a computer game in which the player(s) mount a full-scale opera production.
Stanley Kubrick: A Brief Overview
by Jan Harlan
Stanley Kubrick was one of the great film directors of our time. His continuing influence on motion pictures is profound. But Stanley was as unknown as his films were known and we hope our documentary redresses that balance.
Stanley Kubrick was born on July 26, 1928 in New York City and grew up in the Bronx where his father was a physician. When he was just 16 and in high school, Kubrick shot a photograph of a news vendor the day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and submitted it to Look magazine. Look printed the photo and soon hired him (at 17) as their youngest ever staff photographer.
After creating a photo essay on boxer Walter Cartier for Look, Kubrick used his savings to make an impressive, gritty 16-minute documentary film, “Day of the Fight” (1950), based on the essay.
Two other documentaries -- “Flying Padre” and “The Seafarers” -- followed before he made his first feature film, “Fear and Desire” in 1953. The movie about a fictitious war was directed, produced, photographed, co-scripted and largely financed by Kubrick’s father and other family members.
“Killer's Kiss” was shot two years later and then came “The Killing” (1956), a noir thriller about a race track heist with Sterling Hayden, that prompted Time magazine to remark that Kubrick “has shown more imagination with dialogue and camera than Hollywood has seen since the obstreperous Orson Welles went riding out of town.”
In 1957 Kubrick made “Paths of Glory,” starring Kirk Douglas, which was set in World War I and was one of the most uncompromising anti-war films in the history of the cinema. Kirk Douglas subsequently hired Kubrick to direct “Spartacus” (1960), the most intelligent of the then current “epic” films, and the one and only film on which Kubrick did not have complete control.
Two darkly satiric films then followed, the much-acclaimed “Lolita” (1962), with James Mason and Peter Sellers, and “Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), again with Peter Sellers, a movie that eviscerated and held to high ridicule the Cold War arms race.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” in 1968 redefined the science fiction/futuristic film and the special effects set a new standard for accuracy, realism and beauty.
In 1971 “A Clockwork Orange” portrayed an oppressive lawless society where man was reduced to little more than a machine. This was a powerful film made by a director at the height of his powers and the impact of the film generated worldwide controversy. “Barry Lyndon” (1975), with Ryan O’Neill, portrayed on a grand canvas an 18th century rogue with a compassion and attention to historical detail that has rarely been equaled in the cinema.
In 1980 Kubrick produced what many critics regard as the ultimate horror film, “The Shining,” based on the novel by Stephen King and starring Jack Nicholson. “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) saw Kubrick return to the subject of war, this time the Vietnam conflict, as seen through the eyes of a U.S. Marine played by Matthew Modine.
Kubrick's last film, “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999), is an enigmatic study of a married couple, their love for each other and their real or imagined infidelities. It starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and was the fitting end to a distinguished career. Over a career that spanned some five decades, Kubrick thought that this film was his greatest accomplishment.
Stanley Kubrick died peacefully at his home in England in the early hours of Sunday, March 7, 1999. He is survived by a wife and three daughters and has left to the cinema an enduring legacy.
Bringing The “Stanley Kubrick Collection”
into The Digital Age
by Leon Vitali, Assistant to Stanley Kubrick, 1976-1999
Late in 1997, Stanley and I discussed what the requirements would be to prepare his catalogue of work for the ‘high definition’ age of film and video coming upon us.
We understood the work required was going to mean starting almost from scratch; going back to the basic picture elements to improve the source material from which to do the transfers on new and highly sophisticated digital transfer machinery, and of course, re-mixing the sound tracks from the original mono mixes of the past and updating them into the 5.1 and 2-track stereo mixes required today.
We didn’t get too far beyond the ‘discussion’ stage as we were deep into production of his feature film “Eyes Wide Shut” at the time, but we were aware that it would be a painstaking process which would take time, not to mention the cooperation of a great many people.
Sadly, just days after screening his final cut of “Eyes Wide Shut” for the studio, Stanley died, leaving a sense of loss not only for those closely associated with him but also for the filmmaking community and moviegoers the world over.
However, he left us with two very precious commodities: firstly, a catalogue of films so different from each other, so broad in appeal that people watch them not just once, but many times over. Secondly he left us with an understanding of the standard of work that would be required to produce these masterpieces, digitally re-mixed and re-mastered, not only for the informed cineaste’s enjoyment, but for anybody, anywhere in the world who had taken the trouble to watch one or more of his films. This principle was extremely important to Stanley and one he worked to throughout his career.
From the original picture negatives, cleaned, repaired wherever possible and timed for color, density and contrast, a new interpositive was made which would be used for the telecine transfer.
The picture transfer was done on a Philips Spirit Datacine 2000 and the information stored on digital tape. This tape was then used to correct color, density and contrast which in turn was used to produce the ‘Master’ tape. From this ‘Master’ tape, the digital picture information would be faithfully reproduced for either the manufacture of DVD discs or the production of VHS cassettes.
The sound tracks were upgraded from the original mono tracks by taking the original three track mono masters (dialogue, music and sound effects which were recorded separately onto the same 35mm magnetic track) and sonic-cleaning them to remove extraneous and undesirable noise. The original stereo music cues were then located and laid into the track, thus replacing the original mono music. We then re-mixed and digitally re-recorded the soundtrack to produce 5.1 and 2-track stereo mixes.
Although it sounds simple and straight forward, to produce these new digital masters has taken two years of constant work from the moment of starting to the completion of the project.
And with a project such as this, there are naturally a great many people whose dedication and commitment made it all work. It would be impossible to mention them all and unfair to name only a few.
But one person who must be thanked is, of course, Stanley Kubrick himself. No two films he made were the same and yet each film he made was acclaimed at one time or another as a masterpiece of its genre. His films have inspired and enthralled aficionados and general movie audiences alike.
This collection, digitally re-mastered, digitally re-mixed, is a testament to his spirit, his originality and his stature as one of the greatest moviemakers of all time.
Louis C. Blau
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Ed Di Giulio
James B. Harris
Sir Peter Ustinov
Special Thanks to
All the Participants
Didier de Cottigniers
Gene D. Phillips S.J.
Boosey & Hawkes, London
Decca Record Company, London
Deutsche Grammophon - a Universal Company
Peters Edition, London
Schott Musik International, Mainz
Universal Edition AG, Wien
“The Killing,” “Killer’s Kiss” & “Paths of Glory” courtesy of MGM
“Dr. Strangelove…” courtesy of Columbia Pictures
“Spartacus” courtesy of Universal
Tom Gambale, Camille DeBiase & Marianne Bower
Archive Film Courtesy of
Archive Films, British Movietone News, British Pathe, Historic Films
Andrea Cunnington & Katie Barget
Sound Editing by
The Sound Design Company
Graham V. Hartstone, A.M.P.S.
Brendon Nicholson, A.M.P.S
Camera and Sound
Melanie Viner Cuneo
Produced and Directed by
Words of Stanley Kubrick
“I would not think of quarreling with your interpretation nor offering any other, as I have found it always the best policy to allow the film to speak for itself.”
“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”
“I don't think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors...”
“Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.”
From Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
“I think that if the reigning powers had any great respect for good pictures, or the people who could make them, that this respect was probably very well-tempered by the somewhat cynical observation that poor and mediocre pictures might just as well prove successful as their pictures of higher value. Television has changed this completely. I think that despite the unhappy financial upheaval it has caused in the movie industry, it has also provided a very invigorating and stimulating challenge which has made it necessary for films to be made with more sincerity and more daring. If Hollywood lacked the color and excitement of its early days, with Rolls Royces and Leopard skinned seat covers, I think, on the other hand, it provides the most exciting and stimulating atmosphere of opportunity and possibilities for young people today.”
-- Interview with CBS Radio, 1958.
“Put the camera where I told you, with the lens that I asked for or get off the set and don’t come back.”
-- To a reluctant cinematographer on the set of “The Killing.”
“I think I’m one of the most even tempered people you’ll ever meet.”
-- To his daughters while shooting a home movie. Their response: “Hah!”
“If a fight should develop between Freddie and Leo [father and son Kubrick family tomcats], the only way you can do anything about it is to dump water on them, try to grab Freddie and run out of the room with him. Do not try and pick up Leo. Alternatively, if you open a door and just let Freddie get out, he can outrun Leo. But if he’s trapped in a place where you can’t separate them, just keep dumping water, shouting, screaming, jumping up and down and distracting -- waving shirts, towels, just try and get them apart and grab Freddie.”
-- 37th instruction of a 15-page manual on how to care for the family animals, written before going to Ireland to shoot “Barry Lyndon.”
“I’m still fooling ‘em.”
-- When asked by someone how he was doing.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) (also co-screenwriter, producer)
Full Metal Jacket (1987) (also co-screenwriter, producer)
Academy Award® Nomination -- Best Screenplay
The Shining (1980) (also co-screenwriter, producer)
Barry Lyndon (1975) (also screenwriter, producer)
Best Director -- National Board of Review, British Academy Award
Best Picture (producer) -- National Board of Review
Academy Awards® -- Best Achievement in Cinematography, Art Direction,
Costume Design and Music
Academy Award® Nominations -- Best Picture, Director & Screenplay
A Clockwork Orange (1971) (also screenwriter, producer)
Best Director -- New York Film Critics
Best Picture (producer) -- New York Film Critics
Academy Award® Nominations -- Best Picture, Director & Screenplay
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (also co-screenwriter, producer, special effects)
Academy Awards® -- Won Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects
Academy Award® Nominations -- Best Director & Screenplay
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
(also co-screenwriter, producer)
Best Director -- New York Film Critics
Academy Award® Nominations -- Best Picture, Director & Screenplay
Lolita (1962) (also co-screenwriter, uncredited)
Paths of Glory (1957) (also co-screenwriter)
The Killing (1956) (also screenwriter)
Killer’s Kiss (1955) (also screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, co-producer)
Fear and Desire (1953) (also cinematographer, editor, producer)
The Seafarers (1953) (also cinematographer)
Flying Padre (1951) (also screenwriter, cinematographer, producer)
Day of the Fight (1950) (also screenwriter, cinematographer, producer)
D.W. Griffith Award for Lifetime Achievement (1967) - Directors Guild of America