Journey to Passion and Unhealthy Perfectionism by Stanley Kubrick | Culture

Stanley Kubrick (New York, 1928-Harpenden, England, 1999) received the DW Griffith Award from the Directors Guild in March 1977. In his speech from his English home, he praised Griffith as an innovator, but recalled that the director of The birth of a nation he lived his last 17 years in poverty, rejected by Hollywood. And he compared it with Icarus, to underline that in his ascent to the sun it would have been better to “forget the wax and the feathers and work on the wings.” In other words, like Kubrick himself, one of the most meticulous and passionate artists, to the despair of his collaborators, that the 20th century has given. The exhibition Stanley Kubrick. The Exhibition, that can be seen in Madrid’s Círculo de Bellas Artes until May 8, illustrates profusely, with more than 600 pieces, that creative process, that sick immersion in each project of the director of titles such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange The Spartacus.

The exhibition was born from the collaboration of the German Institute of Cinema, the University of the Arts in London (where his archive is deposited) and his widow, Christiane Kubrick. It has been on tour since 2004 around the world with more than 1.5 million tickets sold. In Spain it could be seen in 2018 at the CCCB in Barcelona, ​​although for its exhibition in Madrid the theme has been reorganized and prioritized over the chronology in the exhibition route. It’s decidedly overwhelming, thanks to the fact that Kubrick was.

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Mirror set to recreate Kubrick's infinite library of books on Napoleon.
Mirror set to recreate Kubrick’s infinite library of books on Napoleon.Viktor Kolev

As Isabel Sánchez, curator of the exhibition in Madrid, tells: “This is a journey inside your mind and your universe to discover a special look. His cinema will always be current, modern, because it touches on universal themes and its protagonists are imperfect human beings ”. Sánchez insists on the filmmaker’s humanity, on which he superimposed a deep pessimism. “For this reason, together with those eternal reflections, such as who we are and where we come from 2001…, a constant ‘for himself who can’ is added in his filmography ”. His irony, quite sinister, reaches the extreme of asking himself in which hands the world is, as his analysis of power attests, from the most obvious cases, Paths of Glory The Red phone, we fly to Moscow to others more veiled, like Eyes Wide Shut The Perfect robbery. Of course, there was only one boss in his cinema: Kubrick himself, whose unhealthy control led him to even analyze the screens of the theaters where his films were premiered all over the world (on some occasion, he even had one painted so that it would be seen better projection of A clockwork orange).

Stanley Kubrick, on the set of 'Espartaco' in Madrid in the summer of 1959.
Stanley Kubrick, on the set of ‘Espartaco’ in Madrid in the summer of 1959.

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On the ground floor of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, the visitor enters the mind of Kubrick. Hence, the pieces are grouped by themes such as desire (and its constant reflection of the man incapable of deciphering the feminine enigma, so he reacts with violence or fear before women), war, power or humor. The audiovisual pieces come from the CCCB, and in this tour the costume with a tunic of Crassus (played by Laurence Olivier) from Spartacus, or the scale model (1:20 scale) of the war room designed by Ken Adam to Red phone …, a majestic setting that Ronald Reagan tried unsuccessfully to find in the White House when he became president of the United States. It is time to illustrate the precision of Kubrick, who comes to recreate a robbery to the minute (Perfect heist) – ”Kubrick was obsessed with time, either to trace it or to make it explode, as in The glow”, Sánchez points out— or to break down in such a way the script of one of his truncated projects, Napoleon, He estimates that the movie, divided into 32 sequences, would last 236 minutes and 41 seconds. For this project he brought together the most complete collection of books on the French emperor, an infinite library that is honored with a piece of mirrors and volumes.

Model of the war room of 'Red telephone, we flew to Moscow'.
Model of the war room of ‘Red telephone, we flew to Moscow’.Viktor Kolev

The director’s passion for geometry is reproduced on this floor with a central showcase that runs through it and causes a perfect division of the rooms. In it you can see dozens of drawings, books (11 of its 13 films are based on novels) or the story board from AI Artificial intelligence, A production that he abandoned because film technology had not advanced enough to reproduce the world of Brian Aldiss’s tale (years later, a Kubrick fan, Steven Spielberg, would).

Stanley Kubrick, filming in Colmenar Viejo, in the summer of 1959, 'Espartaco'.
Stanley Kubrick, filming in Colmenar Viejo, in the summer of 1959, ‘Espartaco’.

On one side are photographs of Kubrick’s stay in Madrid to complete the filming of Spartacus. Since he settled in England, the filmmaker traveled the essential. However, he had to come to Spain to film outdoors the sequences of the march of the slaves, the training sessions (an audiovisual piece by the CCCB certifies the parallelism between this moment and the military practices in The metal jacket), the crucifixion and the final battle. Kubrick is seen relaxed, with his camera — his career began as a magazine photographer, a job to which the show also dedicates a space — hanging or by hand, in the middle of a pasture in Colmenar Viejo. On an adjacent wall are photographs of possible locations in Slovakia of The Aryan papers, his project on the Holocaust in World War II, and his comparison with portraits made in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto. The Aryan papers It didn’t end up in movie theaters either.

Adler typewriter used by Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in 'The Shining'.
Adler typewriter used by Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in ‘The Shining’.Viktor Kolev

To enter the universe of Kubrick, the visitor has to go up to the first floor of the Círculo de Bellas Artes. There the journey is articulated through 2001, A Space Odyssey, The Metal Jacket, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange Y Eyes Wide Shut. Of all of them there are numerous pieces. To highlight some, the cutlery and the astronauts’ helmets, the ape suits, the bathroom instructions of the ship and the interior of HAL 9,000 of 2001, a space odyssey; Jester’s helmet The metal jacket; Lady Lyndon’s costumes from Barry Lyndon; Alex DeLarge’s changing room and the table at the Korova Milk Bar in The Clockwork Orange; a mockup of the Overlook Hotel maze, the twins’ dresses, and Jack Torrance’s typewriter from The glow, and half a dozen masks and Dr. Bill Harford’s cape from Eyes Wide Shut. Along with them, scripts, photographs, clapperboards and any element that Kubrick deems necessary for each film.

Room dedicated to 'A Clockwork Orange'
Room dedicated to ‘A Clockwork Orange’Viktor Kole

At the exit, in addition to the posters of his films in several languages, as an epilogue an audiovisual piece created by Manuel Huerga is projected, which in 37 minutes reviews the life of the filmmaker with a single narrator: Kubrick himself, who gives his voice thanks to the interviews he gave throughout his career. As the sample collects, he thought that “if it can be written or thought, it can be filmed” and that “the most important parts of a film are the mysterious ones, those that are beyond the reach of reason and language”.

One of the rooms dedicated to 'Eyes Wide Shut' in the Círculo de Bellas Artes.
One of the rooms dedicated to ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ in the Círculo de Bellas Artes.viktor kolev

Stanley Kubrik. The Exhibition

Circle of Fine Arts. Calle de Alcalá, 42. Madrid

Until May 8, 2022.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 21:00. Monday closed, except holidays.

Price: general admission, 14 euros; children from 4 to 12 years old, 6 euros.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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