Sunday, January 24, 2016


Animation scholar Tom Klein has done yeoman's work putting together this magnificent article for Cartoon Research discussing the potential influence that Kubrick's early love of hyper-violent cartoons may have played on his future film-making aesthetic. Entitled "Stanley Kubrick and Violent Cartoons: 1956", it begins:
In 1956, America was smitten with the good intentions of Alberta Siegel and suddenly cartoons were under scrutiny. For her Stanford doctoral work in psychology, she had arranged for twelve preschool children to watch the Comicolor cartoon The Little Red Hen (1934) and another twelve to watch what is described as “a Woody Woodpecker cartoon.” Afterward she observed the kids at play. You guessed it, she perceived the Little Red Hen group to be engaged in gentle play and the Woodpecker group was more likely to hit each other and break toys. 
Meanwhile, in that same year, Stanley Kubrick directed his first succesful feature film, titled The Killing no less. It might seem insane to think that there are any cinematic links between these events, but as Kubrick’s career progresses the argument could be made that he had obviously watched some Woody Woodpecker. Not just any cartoons, but specifically the brutal ones directed by Shamus Culhane.
Klein goes on to dig up some potentially new information about the semi-infamous incident where Stanley's little sister, Barbara, became so incensed over his repeated playing of a Prokofiev record on the family hi-fi that she ripped the record off the turntable and smashed it (in some versions of the story, over his head). Klein points out some intriguing intersections between Culhane and Kubrick's oeuvre, including the fact that both directors were deeply influenced by Podovkin and Eisenstein's theories. He also states that "although they were 20 years apart in age, the zeitgeist of the 1940s proved to be a formative period for both of them, and in this decade they steeped themselves in classic literature, avant-garde cinema, and modern art."

One of the more fascinating aspects of Klein's essay is the part where he breaks down specific areas where Kubrick may have been influenced by Culhane, particularly in the case of A Clockwork Orange. Klein lists, then explains, numerous potential connections between Clockwork and Culhane's cartoons. He writes:
The scene that many consider to be the single most depraved in A Clockwork Orange is the home invasion. Preying on the kindness of strangers, the Droogs brutalize a middle-age couple while Alex sings and dances “Singin’ in the Rain.” This flips the smiling cheer of the American Musical on its head and leaves audiences gasping in horror to see Alex savagely beating a man during the improvised performance. Of course, Woody had performed his on-screen brutality almost thirty years earlier, but as directed by Culhane the sequence stays just on this side of comedy. Without any provocation, he repeatedly swings his weapon but the man keeps dodging and then Woody allows his victim to escape the barbershop. Kubrick took the same notion to a very dark place and, in doing so, his film endures as one of the most provocative polemics on a modern society diseased with narcissism and casual violence.
Whether or not there was any kind of direct influence involved, Klein's observation nevertheless rings very true, and is definitely one worth making. In fact, the entire essay is pretty much must-read material for any fan of Kubrick, classic cartoons, and cinema in general. It might also give you a newfound respect for the work of the Walter Lantz Studio's long neglected animators, who are due for a renaissance now that Disney, Warner Bros, and the Fleischer Studio cartoons have finally received the mainstream acclaim and renown they so clearly merit.

I'll leave you with the cartoon that Klein sees as being somewhat parallel to Clockwork: "The Barber of Seville". Enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Many thanks to our fellow Kubrickophiles over at The Playlist, who pointed out three beautifully-assembled, information-packed video essays by someone named Cinema Tyler that break down in fantastically well researched, nigh-unto microscopic detail three key moments from 2001: A Space Odyssey

The video series, aptly titled “How Kubrick Made 2001: A Space Odyssey”, is must-watch material. It's like Tyler took a bunch of pages from one of Piers Bizony's multiple landmark books exploring the landmark film's landmark production techniques and brought them to vivid, full color life. 

On Youtube. 

For free. 

And so, without further ado, here are all three videos. 



"How Kubrick Made 2001, Part One: The Dawn of Man"

"How Kubrick Made 2001, Part Two: The Floyd Sequence"

"How Kubrick Made 2001, Part Three: The Lunar Surface"

Thursday, January 21, 2016


The Ian Visits Blog has a very interesting article on what happened to the original, rejected version of the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. He writes:
It may not look like it, but this 11 foot wide sculpture is the original model for the iconic Monolith used in the film, 2001 and it is on permanent display in St Katherine Docks, next to Tower Bridge. When Stanley Kubrick wanted a monolith for the making of 2001, he commissioned a local plastics firm, Stanley Plastics to cast the monolith out of a solid lump of transparent plastic. However Kubrick was disappointed with screen tests and the sparkling clear polymer block was eventually rejected as a prop in favour of the dense, black basalt that was imported from Scandinavia and is now such an icon of film history. ... That unwanted, and quite massive lump of perspex then sat in the Boreham Wood film studios until the Bratislavan born, London resident, sculptor Arthur Fleischmann acquired it. ... The block was kept in storage by Talbot Designs until Fleischmann received the commission to make a crystal crown for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1977. It was now that the transparent Monolith had the crown carved into its face and gained the perspective that we can see today. A dedicated open-air rotunda, known as the “Coronarium Chapel” was constructed, and the perspex block displayed within after being unveiled by The Queen.
To see more, better shots of the Crystal Crown, read the dedication plaque that describes the object's Kubrickean origins, and to find out where you can currently see it on public display, surf on over to Ian's blog. He's got you covered.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Our fellow Kubrick fans over at the Dangerous Minds website have dug up a 1972 interview with Kubrick veteran Peter Sellers conducted by Kubrick fan Gene Siskel in which the former replies to the latter's query re: Stanley's latest in the bluntest possible terms:
I hated ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ I thought it was the biggest load of crap I’ve ever seen for years. Amoral. I think because of the violence around today it’s lamentable that a director of Stanley Kubrick’s distinction and ability should lend himself to such a subject. I’m not saying that you can’t pick up that book [the Anthony Burgess novel upon which the film is based], read it, and put it down. But to make it as a film, with all the violence we have in the world today – to add to it, to put it on show – I just don’t understand where Stanley is at.
There's more. Read all about it at Dangerous Minds.


Legend is an honorific that is all too often bandied about. In the case of David Bowie, it applies. 

Bowie didn't just live a life without compromise, he lived many, his fictional personae more authentically lived than most contemporary celebrities' actual realities. The sounds and visions he gifted to we unworthy acolytes had the visceral psychic density of the most lucid of dreams. 

Now David Bowie the man is gone, but he's left his creations behind to keep us all company until time and memory run out. 

And if that isn't magick, then I don't know what is.


Here is Bowie's 2001-influenced hit single, Space Oddity.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Chicago based hip-hop MC D-Win has released an EP entitled "Kubrick", and he and his producer, fellow Chicagoan Tek X, describe their collaborative effort thusly:
Given the most recent events that have taken place in America the past year was enough motivation to release the project. Kubrick is a concept album that explores current issues in America; racism, police brutality, and manipulation of the media. The EP is titled after legendary- and often labeled at times controversial -film director Stanley Kubrick. The album was inspired by Kubrick’s methods, which drew you in, but unexpectedly gave you a message from something you wouldn’t expect. The single ‘ Walking On Water” was released last week along with a solid visual created by Nick Mecca of Visual Mecca. The single is a glimpse into the overall message of Kubrick EP. The project is provocative and offers listeners an honest point of view of what it’s like to be young and black in America in 2015. The release of the album was created with the hopes to enlighten and inspire those who are seeking a shift in the right direction.
I gave it a listen, purely out of curiosity. Aside from a couple of sampled bits from a Kubrick documentary, I don't see the connection. Not bad I guess, if you're into this kind of music. It's not my cup of tea, personally, but I do like the album artwork.


On Thursday, September 3rd, 2015, this blog ran a story entitled Kubrick, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, about how The Beatles almost starred in The Lord of the Rings, how The Rolling Stones wanted to appear in A Clockwork Orange, and how Kubrick was tapped by both bands to direct these projects.

Well, it turns out there is yet another, albeit smaller, connection between the Fab Four and Stan the Man, and it's been hidden from view since 1967. It involves the now legendary photograph used as the album cover for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which features a massive collage of life-sized cutouts of people chosen by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison (but not Ringo for some reason).

Take a look at this:

Looks familiar, right? But look again... it's a photograph from the same shoot from which the cover of Sgt Pepper's was taken, but the band is positioned differently, which exposes some of the collage members who ended up obscured on the final image.

And to whom does that menacing, grimacing face positioned directly above John Lennon's head belong? Why, it's none other than early Kubrick favorite, Timothy Carey! And the image itself is taken from the scene in Kubrick's The Killing (1956) in which Carey's character, the incredibly-named Nikki Arcane, is first introduced!

You may have noticed that there are a couple more differences between the above photo and the final album cover image. In fact, there are seven missing people from the final shot, including five faces that ended up airbrushed out or obscured by band members, one that was printed but left out of the collage at the last second (Hitler), and one that was called for, but never printed (Jesus). To learn more about this fascinating bit of historical trivia, check out this article on