The posters of Stanley Kubrick


To take shift focus for a day (tomorrow I will properly link up Invictus, already up on my new site, along with whatever else has been written there), a new entry in my ongoing series looking at directors' posters:



(The first image was doubled by me so as to provide an appropriate poster size without stretching the stamp-sized file beyond all recognition.)

After putting this post together, I discovered this piece which discusses each of Kubrick's major posters. Definitely worth checking out. A great picture of very young Stan at the top, too, camera in hand.

I originally had the "storybook" version of Lyndon up but re-considered and put in the more famous Saul Bass version, which I had ironically forgotten about. One of the tough things about these poster posts is that there was often not just one "primary poster" for a film, so one has to choose what best represents both the director at that period and the aesthetic of the age (as well as what, out of competing images, was the most iconic). Take that as you will.

20 comments:

  1. MovieMan,

    "One of the tough things about these poster posts is that there was often not just one "primary poster" for a film, so one has to choose what best represents both the director at that period and the aesthetic of the age"

    I've often found that foreign posters for American films were the most artistically daring, if not the most appropriate.

    These posters you've chosen are more striking and more able to stand alone as artistic pieces than Scorsese's, perhaps because of the nature of Kubrick's work.

    I'd never thought Kubrick an especially capable director until I saw Eyes Wide Shut, which really impressed me.

    I'm thoroughly enjoying these poster posts of yours.

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  2. MovieMan. Thanks for putting up the posters of the films by one of my favorite directors.

    It seems like it's from Lolita onwards that the quality soars. Of course, Lyndon and 2001 are tops.

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  3. True - these posters stand alone far better than just about any of Scorsese's (his strongest is probably Mean Streets, which not coincidentally does not have a person in the picture).

    Stephen, what on earth can you mean by "capable"?!

    I've heard lots of critics question Kubrick over the years - it's been a pastime with many - but never once heard his competence questioned. (Except by one buddy on IMDb who despised Clockwork Orange, and their focus was always just on that one film, which he felt sloppy - it was, indeed, a rare Kubrick film he churned out quickly though I still find its elements, if not always its whole, impeccably controlled.)

    I don't know that Kubrick is the greatest filmmaker of all time. But as a director, a controller of what went into his films, he was the stone-cold master of the form, nobody touches him. Richard Schickel had a great comment on this in the Kubrick doc I saw recently: fellow directors were always more receptive to Kubrick's vision than critics. The critics were always looking for what was outside the frame, while the director was looking just at what was in it.

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  4. OK, do any "blogger.com" experts out there know why it is limiting my front page to 7 posts when I clearly have it set at 25?

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  5. May be 25 is too high and it resets to 7? Just guessing!

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  6. It hasn't been a problem till now. Usually my posts are pretty short, so this one + the Scorsese one + the danses macabres one must have overloaded the page. It'll be interesting to see where it goes from here; hopefully now that it's "cleared the air" it will continue to add shorter posts to the page...I like to have my stuff linger for a little while longer.

    Now that Blogger has added optional page breaks (instead of a format which applies to all posts) maybe I can shorten some of these and re-arrange the page with a different format. (Tony d'Ambra showed me an interesting one.)

    Did anyone else only just discovered the new Blogger format? I'd been using the old one for months, but this new one's like a revelation - so crisp & efficient in the Composer window (though it's actually MORE frustrating to use in html, which is how I was doing most of my posts now); and now you can actually make pictures big without losing resolution!

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  7. MovieMan,

    "Stephen, what on earth can you mean by "capable"?!"

    Capable of stirring the passions and the mind.

    "But as a director, a controller of what went into his films, he was the stone-cold master of the form, nobody touches him."

    I'm sure he got just what he wanted into his films (it's hardly surprising if he reshot the same scenes endlessly) but that doesn't necessarily imply quality. Maybe in his hands the 'form' is more malleable but what is he sculpting out of it?

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  8. Then you shouldn't use the word "capable." That implies that he ISN'T getting what he wants out of the form; it doesn't imply that you're unresponsive.

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  9. "Then you shouldn't use the word "capable." That implies that he ISN'T getting what he wants out of the form; it doesn't imply that you're unresponsive."

    I'm unresponsive because his capabilities are not apparent.

    Capable means having the ability to do something but more importantly 'ability' as in talent - not just 'you can do', but 'you can do it well'. It also refers to 'efficiency'.

    It means the 'ability required for a specific task or accomplishment'.

    The task is to make a worthwhile film, not just to make. We can all make a film. We are all capable of getting what we want if we set our sights low. Accomplishment is the pertinent word here.

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  10. The Barry Lyndon poster is something I want to own. It ought to be on my wall and be the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. I just want to see the crushing of that rose beneath Redmond's boot and scream, "YEAH!"

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  11. You're dissembling and I find your thinking here hard to follow.

    We agree that Kubrick is probably getting what he wants out of the material. What he wants is an iron level of control which is almost impossible to get out of the cinematic medium.

    Trust me, I know, I've tried.

    If this is not enough for you, fine. It is NOT setting the bar too low, and that's not a matter of opinion, it's a fact.

    Kubrick's "capabilities" are beyond reproach. We can question the use he puts these too all we want, and we can ask if technique is enough, if there's something inhuman about his approach. But your use of the word "capable" borders on meaninglessness. If a subtle and nuanced approach to composition, lens choice, editing, music, lighting, set design, and camera movement, to tackle only the plastic qualities of the medium do not deserve the adjective "capable" than nothing does.

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  12. Adam,

    I guess I went with the right one then!

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  13. Yeah, my post does make little sense but you do not understand the nuances of the word 'capable'.

    Anyway, capable or not, in control or not his films are, to me, boring and soulless. My Mum and I laughed ourselves hoarse at 2001, so pretentious and overwrought.

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  14. "My Mum and I laughed ourselves hoarse at 2001, so pretentious and overwrought."

    Neither the first nor the last. Andrew Sarris and Woody Allen despised the film on first view, and then grew to love it. Pauline Kael never, to my opinion, changed her mind but then she seldom did.

    But you're changing the subject.

    Capability, by all the definitions you yourself listed above, is a word that more than applies to Kubrick. He absolutely can do well, he absolutely can do efficiently, and he absolutely is not setting his sights low - he's surmounted challenges that 99% of filmmakers could not have overcome. Now, if the end result - if the results of his DECISIONS rather than his capablities does not appeal to you, go right ahead and question it.

    But the reason directors are usually more responsive than critics to his work is that they know the difficulty of expressing yourself in this medium and whether or not one likes or responds to what he's expressing, the ability of expression is worth tipping one's hat to if one knows the difficulties of such.

    You can yawn at cross-channel swimmers or over-.500 batters, but that does not mitigate their accomplishments.

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  15. JAFB,

    OK, Dancing Image is only showing 2 posts which leads me to believe that any posts older than 10 days are cut off from the front page now on Blogger.

    That really irritates me - I don't like this whole ephemeral thing with blogging where whatever you've written in the past is now supposed to be consigned to oblivion.

    Besides, I want my "Blog 09" post up on the front page of Dancing Image! Really irritating...

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  16. MovieMan,

    The reason The Dancing Image is only showing two posts on the main page is probably down to something called auto pagination. The other day I noticed that the number of posts per-page on my own blog varied randomly from 6 on the main page, to anywhere between 8 and 3 on the subsequent pages. I spent a full day switching between different blog templates, trying to edit the HTML settings, until I finally found a blogger-related help forum and discovered the real cause. Here is some info on auto pagination and how it supposedly works.

    http://buzz.blogger.com/2010/02/auto-pagination-on-blogger.html

    Unsurprisingly, a lot of bloggers have been complaining about the situation.

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  17. So stupid. Let us decide what our front pages look like. Now the "Blog 09" post no longer appears on the Dancing Image front page. Really obnoxious.

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  18. Thanks, Linden. I just left a comment on a google message board. If anyone else is having trouble, here's the thread:

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=33d7b281c3f27ad0&hl=en

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  19. I must be immature because that Killer's Kiss tagline is hysterically dirty to me.

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  20. Good point, Jack - probably not so unintentional! The early vs. late Kubrick poster, more I like at that, are like night-and-day. The early ones are garish, exploitative to the hilt (The Killing one completely misses the fun of that movie), and graphically uninspired.

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