A 2013 KUBRICK ODYSSEY

When I saw my first Stanley Kubrick film, 2001, A SPACE ODYSSEY, in 1968, I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be seeing an exhibit of Kubrick’s own film odyssey at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) years later.

2001, A Space Odyssey

2001, A Space Odyssey

Born in the Bronx in 1928, Kubrick showed his visual talent early and was taking photos for Look magazine by the age of 17. At 23 he was already making documentaries and it went on from there. If you’re a movie fan like I am, you’ve probably seen the most prominent films: A Clockwork Orange, Spartacus, The Shining, Barry Lyndon, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, or his last film, Eyes Wide Shut. There were 16 films before he died in March 1999 at his home outside London, 4 days after a private screening of Eyes Wide Shut, and before that film was released to the public.

What an amazingly talented man he was and totally involved in his wide variety of films as director of all of them, and the producer and writer for almost all of them. Each film stood on its own, presenting subject matter than filmgoers could interpret in many ways.

 

Keir Dullea, actor

Keir Dullea, actor

The exhibit, which I will describe briefly, was extensive:  movie posters, costumes, props,  scripts and notes, and a framed sheet of paper that listed the many, many scenes to be shot for Napoleon, a film he had to abandon in 1969 because the funding was cut. Of course there were clips of his films in various areas. I found one room showing film clips that identified the music he used in various movies. I hadn’t realized he used so much classical music—perhaps the most famous was the Richard Strauss tone poem, Thus Spoke Zarathustra for 2001, A Space Odyssey. It was such a fitting piece of music, I bet many fans thought it was specially composed for the film.

I have my own memories of each film. I saw 2001 shortly after it was released in 1969 with my husband and godparents. We drove to a special theater in Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard to see it.  It was such an unusual and very visual science fiction film that its theme was open to interpretation.  The exhibit shows the scene in the film of actor Keir Dullea communicating with HAL, the computer that speaks with a male voice (reminds me of iPhones with voices).

Peter Sellars as Dr. Strangelove

Peter Sellars as Dr. Strangelove

 

Dr. Strangelove, the hilarious satire of the Cold War (1964), has always been one of my favorite films. The exhibit didn’t show my favorite scene from the end of the movie: Slim Pickens in a cowboy hat, as Major King Kong, riding a bomb through the air like it’s a bucking bronco.

Ryan O’Neal, playing Barry Lyndon (1975) in the 18th century story of an Irish playboy, is shown in a scene comforting his dying son. It reminded me of what he might have thought about when Farrah Fawcett was dying.

The Shining (1980) was a very scary Stephen King ghost story starring a young Jack Nicholson. On display  along with some film clips are the hatchets Nicholson used to break into his wife’s room, and the knife Shelley Duvall uses to protect herself. The film’s location was a mountain hotel, but the hotel lobby was modeled after the famous Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. When I visited the Ahwahnee in 1984, a few years after the movie, I kept wondering why the lobby looked so much like Kubrick’s horror movie but didn’t discover the reason until this past Sunday!

Shortly after it came out in 1999, I saw Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s last movie that starred Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, while they were still married. There are clips in the exhibit of this very sexual film about marriage and sexual fantasies. When doing a little research, I discovered where the unique title came from American patriot Benjamin Franklin,who wisely said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half-shut afterwards.”

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