Today In History: Stanley Kubrick Dies
Today in 1999, legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick passed away in his sleep at age seventy. He suffered a heart attack just six days after screening his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, to a private group of friends and family members. His funeral was held five days later, and the press was not invited. It was an intimate affair, with only about a hundred people in attendance.
Kubrick is best remembered for his films 2001: A Space Odyssey, Doctor Strangelove and The Shining, among others. He is considered one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema. “Kubrick-esque” is still an adjective used to describe high points in the work of other filmmakers.
Kubrick had a unique style. He was known for making films with very elaborate set design, a distinct, lingering kind of cinematography and an ink-black sense of humor.
He first started making movies in the fifties. He started with short films and then made his first feature, The Killing, for United Artists in 1956. His two subsequent films, Paths of Glory and Spartacus, put him on the map. He caught the eye of Marlon Brando, who tapped him to direct One-Eyed Jacks in 1961. Brando eventually chose to direct the film himself.
Kubrick moved to the UK in 1961, where he would stay until he died. He lived at Hertfordshire’s Childwickbury Manor with his wife Christiane. It was his home and creative base of operations.
He was among the elite few filmmakers who were given financial backing by major Hollywood studios and also total creative control over the final film.
Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist. A scene often required dozens of takes to satisfy his eye, an idiosyncrasy that tended to provoke conflict with cast and crew. It paid off, though. Despite many of his films being received with mixed critical and public response, they are almost all now considered genre hallmarks. 2001, especially, is regarded as one of film’s highest technical accomplishments.
His movies are still popular. They have also aged remarkably well.