Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kubrick's Homeland Security

Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, authored by cinema scholar Vincent LoBrutto, thoroughly examines the career of the high school photography buff who became the world-renowned director of Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, 2001 and other classic films.

In the mid-60s, in search of a more civil and private environment, Kubrick moved his family to London permanently, where he lived and worked and lived first in a luxury apartment and then in a large country estate on the outskirts of town. In general, Kubrick--the reclusive "relentless perfectionist"--felt he could exercise more creative control over his filmmaking in the UK rather than in New York or Hollywood. England also allowed him to make movies more cheaply.

In the book, Kubrick's wife Christiane (who appeared in the final scene of Paths of Glory singing in the tavern to French troops) is quoted as follows:
We lived on Central Park West [in NYC] at 84th Street. I began to get used to seeing the streets white with smashed Coke bottles, to seeing police taking the children to school. In the shops, roughs would just slouch and sprawl across the doorways so you'd have to step over them as if it was quite normal. The women were harsh, too. You just got elbowed out of the way by them. The terrible danger was going home and taking it out on somebody weaker like a child. Just like the animal kingdom. New York did something to me. Before we went there we thought that Americans who complained about the schools and the atmosphere were just right-wing creeps, but of course they had a point.
Many years later, New York City experienced a profound renaissance thanks to the effective policing methods introduced by the Giuliani administration. On the other hand, London now faces an increasing rate of street crime. Ironically, back in the day, some claimed that Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971) inspired violent copycat behavior--causing Kubrick to pull the film from circulation in his adopted country.

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