Kidbrick, technical genius, excentric film maker, visionary, all are words used to describe this once potent, now celebrated film maker. The thing about Kubrick is that none of his films had any sort of relationship to one or the other expect the unique visual style that he brought into his films. The plots and stories are have no similarities when compared one to the other. Dr. Strangelove is a dark comedy about the end of the world through the use of nuclear weapons, Lyndon Barry is about a poor man's rise to power in the 17th century Europe and Full Metal Jacket is a war film about Vietnam and the hell endured by US marines. The topics at hand have nothing to do with one or the other, it is the visual style of Kubrick that makes his films what they are today. Now their are in fact certain style elements that his films have in common, the most important one being his narrative structure, that is to say the way the narration progresses. In any Kubrick film their are at least now very different and distinct parts of the film that, while having seemly nothing to do with one another, cannot work without each other. Two narrative parts that make up the whole. Another good way to identify a Kubrick film is his use of sound, which draws very important cues from the narration. Sound and more importantly to Kubrick, the soundtrack play large parts in his films. Perhaps the most important visual element in a Kubrick film is his perfectionism which I believe leads to the phrases a "Kubrickian" universe. This phrases was used alot during class time, which begs the question, "what consists of a Kubrikian universe." I believe it is the visual perfection and sometimes over dramatization that makesup a Kubrickian world or film. (Some would argue that his films control a world but that is a different topic.) Things,peoeple and places in a Kubirck film seem a little too perfect, a little too real and a little too overdramatic.Sometimes things can appear downright catoony. But I believe this "realness" in a Kubrick film goes full cricle andby exploiting the ridickcluouse in a film it brings audiences back to the point of the film (whatever Kubirck was tryingto get across, which varyies from film to film) while at the same time making them question the nature of film andthe moral of the story that is being show on screne. For this paper I have chose 6 films which I believe show thevisul elements that make up a Kubrick film in it's entrierty.
Let us being with Dr. Strangelove, Or How a learned to Stop Worrying About the Bomb a very over the top dark comedy which deals with issues of the end of the world because of the atomic bomb, the cold war and the comtidency of the US military all areas which Kubrick and the author of the novel on which the movie is based on,poke fun at. Music is a very important element in this film. Music of course is one of the key elements to a Kubrickfilm. The over the top nature typical to a Kubrick film is seen almost a the start of the film and helped alone with themusic. In the first scene we see a plane refueling in mid air done to the musical appompanyiment of a very strangesort of slow dream like elevator music which don't seem to work together at all. We always see that the credits arealmost srawled in what appears to be white crayon (scratches of the film perhaps?) which leads to the conculsionthat someone didn't take the credits and therefore the film seriously. Which is exactly what Kubrick is trying to sayabout this film! Don't take this seriously, it's a comedy and a joke. Even the names of most people are odviouselyfake and aimed to poke fun at the Us govenment and military. The British liason officer is named mandrake, a rootwhich is rumors to have the moderen day effects of viagra. The leader of the infantry which takes over the base isnamed Batguano, which means (I am not making this up) bat exceriments. Even the main piolet's name is SilmPickings, which no partent would name their child, who at the end of the film rides a nuclular bomb, slapping theside of it with a cowboy hat, ontop of a Russian militray facility, tiggering the "Doomsday" device.
Once again we see Kubrick over the top nature coming into play here and clearly letting us know that we are in a Kubrick film.
The film, is of course broken down into two different stories, all taken place in very closed, very clauterphobicenverioments. The first story takes place in what is called the "War Room" where the persident and the leaders ofthe US try to stop their planes from bombing Russia and triggering the "Doomsday" device. The second story taking place at the same time is in the cockpit of a US bomber being flown by the character Silm Picking. Typical to aKurick film two different sotries are taking place the only strange thing about this is that the stories are taking place film editing wise at the same time instead of one after the other like in most of his films.
I both location the fact the we are in a Kubrick film become appearent by the sheer amount of detail place in the twodifferent sequence. The "War Room" was done so perfectly that to this day people believe that their is in fact a warroom in the Pentagon. The details inside the bomber being flow by Silm Picking that audiences and cirtics sworethat the US military had let Kubrick photograph the inside of one of their planes.
(Realyl cool shot fo the mad general with the Cig, get that in someone)
Full Metal Jacket had perhaps the grestest example of Kubrick use of editing two different stories into one coherantwhole. The film is very obviously broken down into two very different yet very distinct parts that woulnd't be able towork one without the other. The first part of the film is the story about Lenard or as his peers and sergant refere tohim "Private Pile" and his breakdown into the system in which he eventaully loses his sanity and kills himself andhis segrants the man responsible for this breakdown and the threrefore the source of his hate. The second part ofthe flim is in Vietman and deals with the US marine fighting of course the Vietnamise or as the trooper like to callthem "Charlie." While the first part of the film dosn't even take place in Vietnam the two deal with the mentality andthe pain endrued by troopers in before war and during so a link is established and both stories complement eachother well. (keep going)
Sound is always a very important factor in this film which is clearly demontrated once the jumo from the first plot tothe second plot occures. The last shot in the first part of the story is a shot of "Private Pile" his head blow apart byhis own gun, blood leaking down a once spotless wall. There is no sound save the harsh blast of gunfire and nomusic. Before audiences can linger over the tragedy and horror of what happend to Lenard the shot cuts to awomens shoes and we suddenly find outself in Vietnam accompinied by the tunes "These Boots are Made forWalking" sung by Nancy Sinatra. The cut combines perfectly the more dayamic of Kurbrick's tecniquies namly themerging of two stories into one and sound, perfectly. It the quick cut followed by silence to loub music shocksaudiences and let's them know that from here on out, things are going to get a little crazy and wild. But the mostimportant sound used was not sung by any famouse singer but the extra and actors on set during the final shot ofthe US troops marching back form the battle feild singing the "Micky Mouse" theme song from the old TV seriouse.Here we have a wonderful contrasts of sound and image occuring between the light hearted song of the MickyMouse theme and the grim imaged of the darkness, fire and wounded troope marching back from battle. It is in thiscontast that lends to the image's potency and clearly marks Kubricks use of sound as a masterful and styiliticelement of his films.
A Space Odyssey is Kubrick strangest film but one that combines both elements of merging stories in a Kubrickunisver as well as showing Kubrick masterful use of sound. Here once again the story line is fragmented into nottwo but three interlocking stories all seemly centered around a black obelstick of some power. The first and secondstorie take place in the distance future where speace travel is very much possbile and treated like flying in a plance.We follow the lives of two seperate recheres, both on missions to uncover the secerts of the black odlelike. Bothstories are interwomven with a story about promitive man and the adventure of his tride, ultimactly ending with theydiscovering the link that all the stories have in common, the black obelisk.
Kurick brilliant use of sound accompaning movement is a masterful stroke of the film and one of the key elementsthat stand out. Shots of space stations rotaion slowly in space, their slow rocation being complimented and almost accentuated by The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss. Everything in the film rotakes to this wonderful peiceof music. Pens floting in space, people and space ships all flot in a brilliant display of music followingmovetion. When the action turned seriouse Kurick employes Also Sprach Zarathustra, a very powerfulpeice, who's theme has now gone down in film history. In the primitive man story, once one of theprimitive men touch the obelisk he figures out how to use a tool for the first time in this life, the firstmajor step in evolution. Played out in slow motino to futhure capture the importatnce of this moment, thisrevelation is accompnayied by this theme music to show the magnitude and importance of this event.Kurick also uses the absence of sound, silence to futhure heighten moments during his film. During thescene when Hal kills a fellow crewman, useing a remote pob as the murder weapon their is no soundbeing played. There is only total and complete silence. Most film makers would have put some sort ofmusic to heighten the mood, not so with Kubrick because that's what audiences expect. Taking a cue fromAlfred Hitchcock who played with audience expectation all the time, Kubrick knows that audience expectto hear something, so he plays nothing. It is because audiences expect a soundtrack to this time and thatfact that Kurbick plays nothing is waht truly makes this murder even more terrifying. Not only does itplay on audiences expectatoin but it draws audiences in because the total silence is someone one wouldexpect to hear in space, making the scene even more believable and even more real. Even his use of sound effects is brillantly used. In the scene where the main character is trying to recover the body of his friendand when he is trying to gain access back into the ship Kubrick breaks the silence with either the pings ofa radors or heavy breathing from inside the space suit. As the tention rises either the breathing incrases toemphasis that fact or the ping rythem increases. Both are excellent uses of sound effects and add to thetension of both scene.
For Kuricks next film, A Clockwork Organge we see how Kuricks over the top stylicitc ways can accualled cerdance to a film and get across the finer metaphorical points. Just the opening scene is should beenoguht to tell audiences that this film is going to be something else, as we have a shot of Alex lookingdriectly into the camera with hauting eyes, the camera pulls back slowly to reveal the setting, whichsonsistes of many different statues of skin white naked women in very lewd positions and a bar full ofpeople who are not moving. Welcome to Alex's mind and Kubrick world. Then the violence begins and itis in the violence that one can immeadiactly tell your in Kuricks world. It's over the top, almost carntoonlike violence. Perfect in exceution but a little too perfect. There is no nitty girtty, down and dirty way offighting. The hits are clean and perfect and everyone almost imediactly gets up from the beating they arereceving. Once again we question the images we are seeing on film. Is it the world seen through the eyesof Alex, this ultra violent world where nobody really gets hurt, only defeated, or the eyes of Kurick. It isin the asking of this question that Kurick sets out to make people ask, to question the nautre and validityof film. This over the top nothing clearifies Kubricks philosophie of challenging the viewers to questionwhat they are seeing on film. He even emphasizes this fact by having Alex narrate over the action,making the images on scene odviously part of his consiouseness and the way he see the world. Even thesex scene are over the top, in one scene Alex's apparently suduces two women to his room to have sexwith them, which he does in fast motion to the tune of the William Tell Overture. One can never be sure ifthe event took place or if this is just a fabrication of Alex's mind, the scene was just too strange and toobizzare to be real. Once again Kurick has audiences questioning the validity of the film and the images onscrene.
Again Kubrick uses his dinstinct style of having the narrition borken down into two different parts, that inthis film act as strange mirrors to one another. In the first part of the film Alex is the preaditor and theaggressor. he steals rapes and murders at will having no fear of his own mortaility or perisution from thelaw. It is only after his own people betray him and turn him in that his life takes on a different tone. Hesuddenly findes himself the victim, at the mercy of all the horrible people in the world. All the evil andharm that he has commited seems to come back on him and everyone he has ever harmed gets theirrevenge. The two different parts of the film once again make up the whole, only in this case act as a sortof mirror, showing the world of Alex and Kubrick, from one angle and then the other. It's as if Kurick issaying, it's only in understanding both aspects of humanity, preaditor and victim that we can trulyappriciate the complexsities that existes and come with being human.And last comes Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick master peice on making people question the images on screneand questioning reality. This is also Kubrick last and strange film, leaving out some of his old visual andstyilistic patterens. The film delves deep into the realms of reality and what is real and what isn't.Audiences can neevr be sure if what they see on escene is really what is happening or either entirly in themind of Tom Cuirse's character.