Tribeca Film Festival: Kubrick by Kubrick (2020) – Film Review


Stanley Kubrick was a director who let his films do the talking. Since his untimely death in 1999, shortly before the release of Eyes Wide Shut, his films have been studied, analysed, documented and even exhibited. Many will have come to synonomise the director with stories of hundreds of takes in his attempts to achieve perfection. Kubrick by Kubrick looks to readdress the balance with an incredibly rare chance to listen to the man himself.

The documentary’s title evokes images of famous film books like Ebert’s Scorsese on Scorsese or Hitchcock/Truffaut. The truth is not far off because the audio recordings used by director Gregory Monro come from a series of interviews with Kubrick by a French film critic called Michel Clement. Recorded over a period of twenty years. Clement was one of the few people to talk with the notoriously private filmmaker about his work and it makes for enlightening listening.

One might initially be thrown by the voice on the recording. For it does not match one’s perception of the man portrayed in the media. It is warm and genial as well as expectedly intelligent and literate.

He discusses films such as Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket, Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange. From the inception of a project to the vast to the meticulous amount of research he would do to achieve his vision. For example he talks about watching thousands of hours of Vietnam war footage. In particular, he goes into detail on his views of the futility of war. A theme that pervades through much of his work, including the fantastic Paths of Glory.

Originating from a tape recorder set in a minature replica of the bedroom from the ending of 2001, Monro brings the audio recordings to life with the use of still images, archive footage, film clips and talking heads.

In a brief clip of his wife Christiane she mentions how the public images of a reclusive maverick and madman “do not bear any resemblance to the man I knew”. Kubrick By Kubrick will likely help to dispell many others of those notions. While it may not be the definitive exmination of a man who may ultimately remain an enigma, film fans should come away with their eyes a little more open than eyes wide shut.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Director: Gregory Monro
Stars: Stanley Kubrick (Archive Footage)
Runtime: 73 minutes
Country: USA

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