It’s strange how intertwined music and sound are with film. I was in my room when I heard the various pieces used in the advertisement for More 4’s Kubrick season, from films such as Lolita, Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining, and rushed in each time to catch the end of trailer. The good news is that you can get More 4 on Freeview and we have a box. The bad news is that my flatmate came home drunk one night and couldn’t get the remote to work so he started banging it on his leg until it broke into several small pieces.
So when I realised that we wouldn’t be watching the season all together every night this past week, I decided to spend a couple of nights at the office, where we do have Freeview. At least I was at work on time. The season prepared by Channel 4 was an excellent collection of films and documentaries by and about one of the great masters of modern cinema.
Watching Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes I gained new insight into the personality and practices of this magnificent filmmaker. The organisational skills and attention to detail that makes his films not just works of art, but beautifully crafted pieces of work. Viewers forget or perhaps do not know what it takes to organise and execute scenes with massive numbers of extras (Paths of Glory, Spartacus, etc.) or lighting and decorating a set so well that each time the camera cuts to a new shot or follows a character it is like walking through an art gallery (Barry Lyndon, The Shining) or how brilliantly written and intensely researched a script needs to be to tackle serious issues (A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove) and retain the audience’s attention.
Granted, not everyone is a Kubrick fan. I can’t for the life of me see why, but film, like most things in life, is a question of taste. You’re not going to pop Barry Lyndon into the DVD player with your mates after a long day at work so you can relax. Unless you want to fall asleep. To get back to the documentary I was watching, the researcher making the doc went through 900 boxes in which Kubrick had stored research on possible films, thousands of photographs of locations, even fan letters, all categorised by location. And behind every item in the box was a little more insight into how this man’s mind worked. Well, it’s interesting to a Kubrick fan at least.
I’ve been looking into buying the Kubrick collection online, however it is indicative of how respected he is as a director, that a complete collection of his films costs anywhere between $160 and $60. I guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer. There are other special edition collections which include great documentaries and features. The Stanley Kubrick Archives will soon be available again in hard cover, which I think I will invest in.
Worry not if you missed the More 4 season, it’s still going on and you can catch The Killing (one of his earlier films) on Wednesday 23 and The Shining on Friday 25. I haven’t seen The Killing so I will be staying in this Friday. I wonder, am I allowed to eat pizza and drink beer while I watch Kubrick, or is it sacrilege?