Kubrick Anthem

A page from the 2001 section of the amazing new Taschen edition – The Stanley Kubrick Archives. I’m emphasizing 2001: A Space Odyssey here, but this wonderfully designed book covers Kubrick’s film oeuvre.

As I’ve been digging up materials on the design fiction topic, and sending my search beyond the Google into the backyard shed, which includes many cardboard boxes that were sent to myself from New York City to Los Angeles back in 2004, I have had a chance to plunge myself into welcome nostalgia. I found my old
Star Trek: Star Fleet Technical Manual and a copy of The Making Of Kubrick’s 2001.

I remember browsing through this “Making Of” book as a young boy, not reading it so much as looking at the pictures of spaceships and wondering how they were built. I mean – I knew they weren’t real, but I was fascinated by the production aspects, the model making and so forth. The ways and means of creating “special” effects for the film. All of this decanted into some early Super-8mm experiments involving disappearing Cowboys pursuing befuddled Indians, somehow involving my brother and neighborhood chums. Anyway..

This latest Kubrick purchase I can highly recommend for folks with large coffee tables or broad bookshelves. It’s a prodigious collection of stills from all of his films, as well as wonderful backstory insights and production notes and nuggets. For the extent of the material, the richness of the film stills and all this, I’d say this is a strong buy, or one for the wish list, certainly. The book contains stills from the films, meticulously reproduced from original negatives, insights about the production of each film through visual stories, production stills and so on. Also included are some new essays.

(There seems to be some sort of Kubrick revival or renaissance or maybe that’s just my observation. In fact, it must be. I think there’s a Kubrick ghost living amongst me. The night before he died – news that came to me over the morning radio while I was living in Brooklyn – I swear my father and I watched The Killing on a VHS tape. When I came downstairs and told my dad the news, he thought I was pulling his leg, the coincidence being rather bizarre as we were not given to watching Kubrick as a matter of course. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. I’ve only just now noticed Matthew Modine’s book called Full Metal Jacket Diary of his notes and photographs from his experiences with Kubrick in Full Metal Jacket that I stumbled across just Saturday at Family bookstore on Fairfax. It’s in a curious metal covered design and rich with photographs; certainly a significant contribution to the wider Kubrick mythos. That same day while in the Otis College of Design library, the Spring 2009 issue of Cineaste had an article by Tony Pipolo called “Stanley Kubrick’s History Lessons.” There was one other magazine with a cover story, but I forget what it was.)

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I strongly second the recommendation. No other filmmaker has had the same impact on the way I think about framing and movement in photography. Plus it comes with a 70mm film strip cut from a print of 2001 owned by Kubrick.

My own coincidence was strange too: I remember exactly where I was when I heard that Kubrick died. I was in Powell Library studying when I took a break to check email. A friend sent me the news and it surprised me deeply considering that I was currently taking a class about Film Auteurs in which we were watching the work of Max Ophuls, Orson Welles, Joseph Losey, Roman Polanski, and of course Stanley Kubrick. The class hadn’t gotten to the Kubrick section yet, so watching the collected films of his career shortly after his death was a very fitting reflection.

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