Stanley and Me - A Kubrick Retrospective
by David Edsall

Ealier this year I lost a part of me. I lost you, Stanley Kubrick. There are some things in life you always assume you'll never lose. They are a comfortable part of you. Your memories, your friends, your family. When you lose them, you feel a big hole in your life. They've become so familiar and so trusted you can't imagine a world without them. You can only think about how much better the world is because those things are a part of it. That's the way I felt about you.

You were there when I was a young boy, looking up at the stars, facinated by the fact that men were in orbit and standing on the moon. You felt it too, didn't you? You must have, because you created a work of art which, to this day, has never been equaled in terms of authenticity, effort and thought. You knew your science, Stanley. You knew that without a medium to conduct a sound wave, such as air, no one could hear a sound wave. You impressed me because you presented space travel the way it really is, not the way we romantically wish it could be. You impressed me so much that I secretly read 2001: A Space Odyssey in my 8th grade science class, the consequences of being caught be damned. You left so many questions for which I desired answers.

As a student you showed me the dark side of life. I studied you, Stanley, you and Anthony Burgess. I tried to understand your dystopian visions of the future. I attempted to understand your A Clockwork Orange. I felt so smug when we discovered your musical tricks but once again you left me with questions - questions not of my future but of my present.

Oh, you were a ballsy one, Stanley. You could be. You bucked the establishment before bucking the establishment was cool. What did you have to lose? You didn't grow up with a desire to direct. You tried it, you liked it and you kept doing it because you liked it, not because you needed it. What else could explain those long, agonising years between your films? It wasn't the money, it was the perfectionist in you. The desire to produce a great piece of work as opposed to a money maker.

Buck the establishment you did. You made a lot of people angry, very angry, yes. The French refused to screen your Paths of Glory. You listed Dalton Trumbo by his real name as screenwriter for Spartacus, showing the McCarthy blacklisters where they could go. You took on the topic of forbidden fruit with Lolita, you taught us to laugh at the lunacy of mutual assured distruction with Dr. Strangelove, you courted an X rating for A Clockwork Orange. In Full Metal Jacket you presented the Vietnam War the way many of us knew it was but were unwilling to admit and accept. In your final film, Eyes Wide Shut, you opened our eyes and forced us to face the dysfunction that exists in our marriages and our societies. You really were anti-establishment. You really meant it. Unlike many of the poseurs from the era of peace and love, you not only lived it, you felt it and believed it. You gave me hope and will continue to do so. Your legacy stands as a goal for which to strive.

I'll miss you, Stanley. I'll miss seeing your non-pretentious opening credits. I'll miss having films that actually cause one to think and experience rather than consume. The world has lost a living example of the way films should be done. But we haven't lost your work. I'll remain happy believing "we'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when - but we'll meet again some sunny day."

CineScene© 1999