Stanley Kubrick at LACMA

Nov. 18

“2001... is basically a visual, non-verbal experience. It avoids intellectual verbalization and reaches the viewer’s subconscious in a way that is essentially poetic and philosophic. The film thus becomes a subjective experience which hits the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does, or painting.” – Stanley Kubrick

The exhibit was inspiring and eye opening in shedding light on the complex and idiosyncratic process of Kubrick’s filmmaking method. Kubrick is obsessive with certain stories and ideas that he continually reworks until he’s ready or until “society is ready” such as “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999) which he had been interested in since the 1970s when he read the book. This notion of waiting for society to be ready is especially fascinating in thinking about film as a popular media so directly tied to finance and the will of others. Where literature and music appear to allow more immediate representation of the changing world, in terms of perceptions, morals, and philosophies, cinema (especially big-budget films) always appear to lag a decade or more behind. So Kubrick’s film are striking in how influential they are on society and artist generations afterwards. Some of the directors influenced by his style range from P.T. Anderson, David Lynch, and Gaspar Noé to Scorsese, Tarantino, and Woody Allen. What makes his works so powerful is not just Kubrick’s own style but also his dialogue or direct partnership with cutting edge artists and designers of his time. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) for example was co-written by Arthur C. Clarke and also showcases work by famous contemporary fashion, interior, and hardware designers who were given the task of imagining what the future would look like. The potency of his influence can have negative effects such as the alleged “Clockwork Orange Murderer” that caused the filmed to be pulled from distribution in the UK for over 25 years. Yet his work essentially acts as a mirror to the contemporary imagination and reflects upon the aesthetic fascinations and social issues often unrepresentable in big budget cinema.