The Kubrick FAQ

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The Kubrick FAQ
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frequently asked questions part 2

14/ What was Kubrick's A.I supposed to be about?
This answer was written in 1999, and therefore only deals with the story of what was known then about the pre-production of Kubrick's AI

A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) was a film Kubrick had planned on making for several years. The film was to be his first foray into the science-fiction genre since his 1968 technical ground-breaker '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

Kubrick worked with several writers over the years, shaping the script, Brian Aldiss, Bob Shaw and Ian Watson, among others (the latter actually finished a script for Kubrick), meanwhile he kept one eye on the latest developments in the field of special effects. The script was partly based on Brian Aldiss' short story 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long' (1) "Super Toys" Is a fable about a young synthetic boy and his talking companion bear. The boy is confused about his existence and what is 'real' and if he is indeed 'real' himself. The boy's 'Father' works for a company that manufactures artificial people as servants, companions and to keep the booming population under control.

The Father and Mother both want a real child through conception, but await official permission to do so. In the end they are elated to be granted permission, but seem puzzled at what to do with their artificial child and its companion.

The basic thesis for the story appears to be a reworking of the Aldiss short story, but the plot and narrative structure seem less familiar. Kubrick had envisioned a New York of the future being swallowed up by floods and tidal waves. More specific plot-points are vague, but several of the contributors have leaked glimpses of the story line over the years. One such scenario, given to me anonymously, would be that sometime later, a boy would be found amongst the swamp-like ruins by an advanced group of robots. At some point it would become clear that the boy himself was an arcane version of these robots, long since forgotten.

This scenario is a far cry from the 'Waterworld'-like plot of Ballard's 'Drowned World' (1962'), which has long been rumoured to have been a source for the film, but has never been confirmed. The novel describes that in the latter half of the 20th century, the world has become immersed in water due to a melting of the Earth's polar caps. The story begins several decades after the catastrophe. Survivors spend their days avoiding the blistering sun, living on makeshift boats or in the high rises that break the swampy surface of the underworld. Coincidentally, Brian Aldiss gives the book a glowing review on the back cover, which at least proves the main contributor to the story - aside from Kubrick - had at least read it and had likely drawn some inspiration, however small.

Although Kubrick's story was apparently to have tidal waves crashing through cityscapes, there is no such mention in Ballard's book. However, there are some brief descriptions of waves that splash methodically against the sleek skyscrapers that protrude from the water's surface. This single vision at least seems in tone with Kubrick's visual atmosphere for the film.

What is more likely - at least on a personal level - is Watson's scenario, which would follow the Aldiss story closely, but would spin off into a more 'fairy-tale' journey that would take the viewer on a odyssey spanning the boy's thousand year quest.

David (as he was named in Watson's script) was the first of a new model of robot able to utilize 'virtual' emotion as part of its psychological makeup. In Watson's script, it is apparent that David has been programmed to love the couple that has acquired him, but cannot 'learn' to love others. David's new 'parents' are a dissatisfied couple whose only child suffers from an incurable disease and had been cryogenically preserved in case a cure can be found. The parents are not allowed to have another child and resent David playing the part of their 'child'.

When a medical breakthrough allows the daughter to be thawed out and cured, David becomes redundant, and after a period of intense sibling rivalry, the mother decides to rid herself of David. She sets him loose, but to assuage her sense of guilt, tells him that he can return when he becomes a 'real boy'.

David's quest eventually takes him to the drowned city of New York , where he finds a 'Pinocchio booth' at a Coney Island amusement park, which is, along with a Ferris-wheel, located just above the waterline. The scene ends with David seeing the model of the 'Blue Fairy', which he regards with referential wonder.

The story then jumps ahead a thousand years, to a future in which robots populate the world which is now run by computers. Humans are long extinct. David's remains are discovered, his battery worn down, and revived by these robotic inheritors of the Earth, who regard him as a link with a mythological long-forgotten past.

Ian Watson did an almost full novel length treatment which I've never seen and when he finished it Stanley said to him. I need somebody to smear this with vaginal jelly, and I have to say when I first heard this that I was rather shocked, because he was quite gentlemanly.

Sara Maitland.

Kubrick's final collaborator on the 'A.I' script was English novelist Sara Maitland whom he felt was necessary in shaping the story into a cohesive whole. "By the time I came to the project it had become enormous, unwieldy and unfocused," said Ms. Maitland. Upon perusing the piles of unfinished scripts, she concluded that the story needed to make emotional sense as a myth or fairy tale does, and believes that Kubrick realized this. In fact Kubrick also was adamant that the story should work in terms of myth. "He never referred to the film as 'A.I.'; he always called it 'Pinocchio.' "

"He decided to make this film because he wanted people to shift to a more positive view of A.I., he was quite open to me about that. Kubrick was fascinated by artificial intelligence and fond of robots, which he regarded as a more environmentally adaptable form of human being. He said, 'I think of them as I'd like to think of my great-grandchildren.' And he's very fond of his grandchildren."

It was the relationship between David and his mother that most occupied Kubrick and Sara Maitland. An alcoholic whose 'Bloody Mary' cocktails David would mix for her in a vain attempt to win her affection. The mother was the to be emotional center of the film that would eventually come full-circle.

At the story's conclusion, the robots that have inherited the Earth use David's memories to reconstruct, in virtual form, the apartment where he had lived with his parents. Because his memories are subjective, the mother is much more vividly realized than the father, and his stepsister's room is not there at all; it is just a hole in the wall.

For Ms. Maitland, the film would end with David preparing a Bloody Mary for his mother, the juice a brighter red than in real life: "He hears her voice, and that's it. We don't see him turn to see her." Kubrick, however, wanted a coda in which the new race of robots, because of a technological limitation, cannot keep the mother alive after reviving her. The movie would end with David in his mother's bedroom, watching her slowly disappear.

Ms. Maitland was displeased this scenario, and was furious with Kubrick for insisting on it. "It must have been a very strong visual thing for him," she says, "because he wasn't usually stupid about story. He hired me because I knew about fairy stories, but would not listen when I told him, 'You can have a failed quest, but you can't have an achieved quest and no reward.' "

Other details regarding the film have recently surfaced, but specifics are vague and sometimes just utter nonsense (we'll get to the nonsense soon enough). But the few hard facts we have about the film come from this source, a statement from Warner Brothers and a confirmation from Industrial Light And Magic about being approached to deal with the special effects shots.

The statement form Warner Bros. was released during pre-production for 'Eyes Wide Shut' and states:

"...Kubrick's previously announced sci-fi film, 'A.I.', believed to be one of the most technically challenging and innovative special effects films yet attempted, is in the final stages of set design and special effects development, and will follow Eyes Wide Shut".

The confirmation from Industrial Light and Magic's involvement has always been - until now - unclear to say the least. But a recent article from the June 18th issue of Entertainment Weekly confirms that members of ILM were indeed deep into development in regard to special effects for the proposed film.

In the fall of 1993, Dennis Muren and Ned Gorman, who had previously wowed audiences with the effects for the 'Star Wars' films, had been invited to the Kubrick estate to talk about the monumental effects issues for Kubrick's new film, 'A.I.'. Kubrick had begun pre-production in 1991, but had lost interest when it became apparent the effects shots needed for the film were beyond the capabilities of even the top special effects people. A recent screening of Muren and Gorman's newest work on Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park' rekindled his interest in the project.

At his estate, Kubrick was shown a screening featuring a computer generated pirate ship on the high seas. According to both Muren and Gorman, Kubrick was left duly impressed, and grilled the two FX whizzes for over seven hours. The two also indicated that Kubrick's level of knowledge in the field of FX was astounding.


Gainsborough The Blue Boy
For the lead role, Kubrick had wanted the robot boy something along the lines of an androgynous, Victorian doll. Muren and Gorman were shown a photo of Gainsborough's painting 'The Blue Boy' as an example. Kubrick's concept was that the child should look a little too real. And although it would become apparent that he wasn't human, he would in the end, become the most humane character in the film.

When the ILM team returned to the U.S., they conjured up about fifty or so different ways visually to make it apparent that the child was indeed a synthetic creation. One such suggestion, which certainly plays into Kubrick's 'Pinocchio'-type odyssey for the boy, would be that of an internal manifestation or mechanism; some semblance of lights coming from inside the body. Another was symmetric freckles and moles on the child's face. Yet another idea was to give the child blank, doll-like eyes, that wouldn't focus on a point in space, but off into nowhere.

One idea in particular sparked Kubrick's interest, and that was to have the boys face inhumanly balanced. In particular, the idea that the eyes might be farther apart than that of a human being. These spatial differences are what Kubrick was especially intrigued by. Whether Kubrick was to use a real actor and superimpose the head and face in post-production, or create a fully digitized actor is still unknown.

Kubrick did eventually commission a test helicopter shot of an oil derrick in the North Sea, which he intended to digitally replace with the sunken spires of the New York City skyline. How these images of monuments rearing up from the oceans turned out is any ones guess. With no explanation, his interest temporarily waned, and he turned his attention to 'Eyes Wide Shut'.

What Kubrick could have done with today's digital technology is something that will be debated for decades to come. For now, Kubrick's dreamlike fable will play out only in the midst of our imagination.


(1) Aldiss' short story, "Super Toys Last All Summer Long" is available online at The Kubrick Site.(back)

15/ What's true and what's false with Kubrick's AI?


AI  sketch

TRUE:   1996, an amk contact received art work from AI. The artwork is an early draft, in later versions the side walls are huge ice formations." The metal arch type structure the two craft are lifting would represents a ruined Ferris Wheel encased in ice, and being harvested out by machines.

Later the same informant reported AI, "has been shelved." An artist was hired to work at Stanley's house, to produce pictures of the Polar ice caps and of the Statue of Liberty under water. But after several months, the artist produced only one painting, and was let go from the project. The source did confirm the script was based on "Supertoys," dismissed the "kid from Jurassic Park" rumor, and reported that people were working with Stanley on computer morphing techniques.

Later message: The source says that he'd be surprised if AI even gets started after EWS. It seemed likely that if it did happen, Kubrick would create his own effects team, because he wasn't happy with the ILM's work and its cost estimates. He couldn't confirm Ian Watson's involvement. Then the messages concerning AI ended after this.


FALSE:   An outlandish rumor began on 'Dark Horizons, about Kubrick secretly shooting 'A.I.' over the course of several years (1), in order to capture the child star's age progression into adulthood realistically. Jan Harlan recently called this "Total nonsense," but adds, "... we did test Joseph and he was put on a contract, but then he didn't do the film."

TRUE:   What we do know is that Kubrick was impressed with the young actor after seeing him in 'Jurassic Park', and possibly wanted him to play a major role in the holocaust drama 'Aryan Papers' (2) , which Kubrick had intended to either produce or direct. Mazzello's agent has publicly stated his client was put under contract for two years, but that when the contract expired, renewal was not sought out by Kubrick, who by then had turned his interests to 'A.I' and 'Eyes Wide Shut'.

TRUE:   Video director and artist Chris Cunningham (Bjork - 'All is Full of Love'; Aphex Twin - 'Come to Daddy') was hired by Kubrick to make little robot-type humans for A.I., and that he did spend time with him actually making a few of them. Jan Harlan recalled to Steven Rose of the Guardian "We did try to build remote control machines and stuff like that. We tried to construct a little boy with a movable rubber face to see whether we could make it look appealing. But it was a total failure, it looked awful."

INTERESTING FACT: Kubrick consulted with Hans Moravec of Carnegie-Mellon University, whose book on artificial intelligence "Mind Children" became Kubrick's standard reference.

INTERESTING FACT: Kubrick also commissioned the British illustrator Chris Baker to draw scenes for his future world.

TRUE:   He was working on pre-production on AI and EWS simultaneously. Terry Semel told Paul Joyce, (3i) "He was preparing "AI" for some time, as he was "Eyes Wide Shut" and he was determined after the screenplay that collectively we did not go forward on it, which was really his choice. He decided to have more than one choice the next time. So he took an extra year or two and was working on more than one project at the same time. One was Eyes Wide Shut and the other was AI.

FALSE:   The film was shooting concurrently with EWS in a St. Albans property that used to be a bacon factory that Kubrick had bought and converted in to a studio. Although Chris Cunningham, built robots for Kubrick there and it has been reported that parts of Eyes Wide Shut were indeed shot in the converted bacon factory.

TRUE   Contrary to what has been reported here before, Steven Spielberg received over 900 pages of fax-notes from Kubrick, regarding AI. Jan Harlan Kubrick brother in law said to Steve Rose of the Guardian "He and Spielberg spoke all the time," he continues. "I have six or seven years' worth of correspondence between them over AI, which I recently passed over to Spielberg along with over 1,000 drawings." Harlan told Paul Joyce, (3ii) "He said on more than one case - "I think the ideal director for this may be Steven Spielberg. If I do it, it may be too stark. I may emphasise too much the philosophical side.

Harlan maintains that Kubrick would certainly have returned to AI after Eyes Wide Shut. "He had no intention of dying, I assure you. But at one point, Stanley actually said to Spielberg: 'You would be the best guy to direct this film, I'll be the producer.' I can't tell you whether he would have directed it himself or given it to Spielberg. That was still very much a possibility." (4)


(1) Interestingly at around the same time as this rumour appeared, Danish director of Lars Von Trier announced that he intended doing the same kind of thing, taking a 3 minute shot every year on different locations all over Europe for a period of 33 years. Von Trier's film, if it is ever completed, is expected to premiere in the year 2024.  (back)


(2) See Information on Aryan Paper in the next question 16. (back)

(3i) & (3ii)Terry Semel and Jan Harlan quotes from "The Last Movie: Stanley Kubrick & Eyes Wide Shut"  a film by Paul Joyce.

(4) Guardian Interview with Jan Harlan available on-line at  

16/ Are there any other unfinished or abandoned projects that Kubrick worked on?
Take one director of exacting standards and a penchant for pre-production combined with a forty eight year career making films and you are bound to find a string of uncompleted, abandoned or half-forgotten projects along the way. Here is a brief, although probably far from comprehensive, résumé.

Some of the abandoned projects mentioned in this list were in a more advanced stage of development than others, although apart from AI and Napoleon, lack of information makes it difficult to ascertain which ones, hence the list is arranged in alphabetical order and approximately dated.

From a short story by Brian Aldiss
Kubrick became interested in doing a film about artificial intelligence in the early 70's and the idea stayed with him for the rest of his life.
For an account of this huge work in progress see questions 14 & 15 of this FAQ.

The Aryan Papers (1980s)
From 'Wartime Lies' by Louis Begley (published 1977)
A Jewish Mother and Son try to escape the Nazi holocaust.
According to a recent interview in the UK Guardian newspaper with Jan Harlan "Kubrick always wanted to do a film on the Holocaust, but he never got a good script." He had tried to commission an original screenplay from the novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer (who turned it down on the grounds that he knew nothing about the Holocaust), before settling on an adaptation of the novel Wartime Lies, by Lewis Begley.

Script written, though not known whether other writers were involved. Uma Thurman and Julia Roberts were considered for the female lead while Joseph Mazzello had been selected to play the young boy. Locations had been chosen but the film was cancelled a few months before principal photography was to begin.

"We were very committed to do this film," Harlan recalls. "We had done enormous amounts of research and preparation, but there came a point when he and Warner boss Terry Semel decided it would be better to do AI first. It had to do with Schindler's List," he said. "It was such a good film and so successful, and Stanley's film would have come out about a year later. He'd already had this experience with Full Metal Jacket, which came out the year after Platoon, and that hurt us, there's no question about it." So in 1995, The Aryan Papers was abandoned and Kubrick returned to AI.

(1) Guardian Interview with Jan Harlan available on-line at  

Blue Movie (late 1960s early 70s)
a film director who becomes so great and famous that he gets the financing to make the ultimate pornographic film starring two well-known screen lovers (This story sparked rumours that Eyes Wide Shut was going to be Kubrick's Blue Movie).
Kubrick toyed for a while with Blue Movie, although it's doubtful he ever seriously considered making it into a film. Terry Southern liked the idea so much that he got Kubrick's permission to write the story as a novel. According to Vincent Lobrutto's biography, Kubrick asked Southern if he could read the galleys to the novel. While he was reading it, Christiane picked it up and, after perusing the pages, said to her husband, "Stanley, if you do this I'll never speak to you again." In the early 1970s Kubrick also confessed to a friend once that he would like to make the world's scariest movie, involving a series of episodes that would play upon the nightmare fears of the audience (The Shining was released in 1980).

The Burning Secret (mid 1950s)
From the story by Stefan Zweig. Developed by Harris Kubrick Productions after the found the book in MGM's library.
A mother who goes away on vacation without her husband but accompanied by her young son. At the resort hotel where they are staying, she is seduced by an attractive gentleman. Her son discovers this but when mother and son eventually return home the boy lies at a crucial moment to prevent his father from discovering the truth.
Screenplay written in the mid 1950s by Calder Willingham and Kubrick for MGM to follow up The Killing. Harris and Kubrick worked on the project in the day whilst developing Paths of Glory surreptitiously at night. Management changes at MGM scuppered the project. A version was later directed by Andrew Birkin, Kubrick's assistant on 2001 and Napoleon.

Foucault's Pendulum (1980s)
From the book by Umberto Eco.
Three book editors decide as a joke to invent a world wide conspiracy theory. The game turns deadly when they start to disappear one by one. Foucault's Pendulum is Italian semiotics professor Umberto Eco's satirical take on conspiracy theories, the illuminati and secularisation of religion in the modern age.
Reuters recently reported that after 12 years of refusing numerous offers from filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and Milos Forman, the author had finally struck a deal with Fine Line Features for a big screen adaptation of his best-selling novel. Apparently Eco had resisted all previous approaches in part due to his disappointment with the movie version of his novel "The Name of the Rose,"

The German Lieutenant (late 50s)
From the from the book by Richard Adam. Developed by Harris Kubrick Productions
World War II film.
One of several projects Kubrick and Harris worked on but was never film in the hiatus between Paths of Glory and Spartacus.

I Stole 16 Million Dollars (late 50s)
From the biography of Herbert Emmerson Wilson. Developed by Harris Kubrick Productions
The life of a professional safe-cracker who served 12 years in San Quentin jail.
Kubrick wrote a screenplay as a vehicle for Kirk Douglas who passed on it. Kubrick subsequently stated that he has never been interested in developing any of the screenplays he developed with Harris while they both were in the employ of Douglas' Bryna Productions.

Last Exit To Brooklyn (1960/70s?)
From the novel by Hubert Selby Jr. published in the UK in 1968.
The hard hitting sexual, political and criminal adventures of a series of characters living in Brooklyn in the 1950s. The book became famous in the late 1960s as the subject of an obscenity trial, which led to the formation of the "Defence Of Literature And The Arts Society."
With the release of the 1989 film adaptation, a rumour came out that Kubrick was once interested in adapting the book and even held the rights for a while. Filmed eventually by Ulrich Edel, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The Last Parallel (1950s)
From a novel of the Korean war by Martin Russ

Napoleon (1960s early 1970s)
Kubrick, wrote a 186 page script for Columbia as early as 1969. He later rewrote it with Napoleon expert Felix Markham. There is no way of ascertaining whether a version was ever finished, but they did spend many months writing it. Anthony Burgess' cited Kubrick as the influence on the choice of subject matter for a novel which he wanted to write, structured like a classical symphony. His book 'Napoleon Symphony' (1) came out of soon afterwards and was also thought to be a contender for adaptation into a film script.
The Life of Napoleon (possibly structured like Beethoven's 3rd symphony "Eroica":- The first part being about struggle and victory, the second about a great public funeral, and in the third and forth raising the hero to the level of myth).
A project that was developed from the late sixties to the early seventies and cancelled for various reasons by MGM, Kubrick or a combination of the two. There is evidence that the project was cancelled in the final stages of extensive pre-production; certainly casting had begun and locations were being decided upon.

Of all his abandoned projects, Napoleon (and AI) were the most prominent also-rans. (Napoleon even received a mention in Arthur C. Clarke's 'Rendezvous with Rama'!) Originally slated to follow 2001, then A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick discussed Napoleon at some length in several interviews (2) around the late 1960s early 1970s. With Jack Nicholson confirmed to play the eponymous emperor, Kubrick plans for Napoleon would have made it easily the most ambitious project he had ever attempted. The film was to feature battle sequences filmed by helicopter with thousands of troops marching in historically accurate formations. Certainly, if the film had ever been made, it would have been to be an epic on the grandest of scales.

Years later, after the release of Full Metal Jacket, Penelope Gilliatt (3) asked Kubrick what had happened to the film. "I'm not sure that in three hours you could do justice...." was his pragmatic response

For more information on this abandoned project go to Darryl Mason's generally informative article at

(1) Information about Napoleon Symphony obtained from Anthony Burgess' autobiography, 'You've Had Your Time.'  (back)

(2) See The Joseph Gemelis interview on The Kubrick Site, for more information on Napoleon.  (back)

(3) Penelope Gilliatt interview also on The Kubrick Site.

One Eyed Jacks (late 1950's)
From a script by Sam Peckinpah
See question 19 of this FAQ.

TV series based on the film Operation Mad Bull (late 1950s)
Harris Kubrick both enjoyed the film starring Ernie Kovacs and were interested in making a TV series, about the commandant of a boy's school.
Harris and Kubrick met Kovaks and began to research the project including talking to a real commandant of the Black Fox Military Academy.

The Passion Flower (1960s?)
A group of young women from an all-girls school decide to sell sexual favours to a nearby all-boys school.
According to Lobrotto's biography Harris and Kubrick always talked about renewing their collaboration. one of the projects they discussed making together was The Passion Flower. According to Lobrutto, it was eventually made as a musical.

Perfume (1980s)
From the novel by Patrick Suskind first published in German in the early 1980s English Translation published in 1985
Complex adult fable of a boy with psychopathic tendencies and an extremely well developed olfactory sense in 18th Century France.
Development -
Unknown, presumably a script had been written. Rumour has it that Suskind was unhappy with the way the adaptation was going. It is not known why the project was abandoned.

Schindler's Ark
From the book by Thomas Keneally published in 1982
Fictionalised account of Oskar Schindler, a German business responsible for saving the lives of 600 Jews during World War II.
In an interview for The Guardian, Thomas Keneally mentioned that Kubrick's office enquired after the film rights for his book. (Questionable: as Kubrick usually made such offers through a third party) Not taken any further by Kubrick. Filmed as Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg in 1993.

The 7th Virgina Cavalry Raider (1958)
The adventures of Union Cavalry officer Mosby Ranger
Developed by Harris Kubrick Productions. Kubrick never finished the screenplay for this project concerning a Southern guerrilla force during the American Civil War. It was hoped that Gregory Peck would play the lead.

The Shadow Knows (late 1970s)
From the novel by Diane Johnson, published in 1974
A young divorced woman narrates her troublesome emotional and sexual involvement with a married man. As her mixed feelings about her relationship grow, she begins to obsess about half-imagined harassment by strangers or prowlers. Finally she is indeed attacked and raped. As the story draws to a close, it becomes questionable whether the event was actually real and whether all or part of what she has related might not be a paranoid and self-aggrandizing delusion.
Discussed with Diane Johnson, who was later chosen to co-write the screenplay for 'The Shining'.

Traumnovelle - starring Steve Martin (1980s?)
Possibly a comic version of Arthur Schitzler's "Traumnovelle," - now made as Eyes Wide Shut
In the mid eighties, Kubrick was impressed by Steve Martins 'The Jerk' (1979) and was anxious to do a project with him. They met a few times but not known whether any story or script ideas had been discussed. Diane Johnson said recently revealed that Kubrick at one time conceived his adaptation of "Traumnovelle," to be a comedy and he: "explored it with Steve Martin". Michael Herr also reported Kubrick's interest in doing "Traumnovelle" as a dark sex comedy with Steve Martin in the lead, Herr says that he, Diane Johnson and David Cornwall aka John Le Carré were also approached by Kubrick to write it.


17/ Can someone explain the end of 2001?
"If the film stirs the emotions and penetrates the subconscious of the viewer, if it stimulates, however inchoately, his mythological and religious yearnings and impulses, then it has succeeded."

Stanley Kubrick (1)


The final scenes of 2001 depict Bowman; taking an interstellar journey, arriving at an alien white room and turning into a star child. Kubrick was often drawn by interviewers to offer his own interpretation of these enigmatic events but would not discuss them, due he said to the conviction that by providing such a road map, he would destroy the mystery of the film. He did say to Rolling Stone magazine about the film that, "On the deepest psychological level the film's plot symbolizes the search for God, and it finally postulates what is little less than a scientific definition of God [...] The film revolves around this metaphysical conception and the realistic hardware and the documentary feelings about everything were necessary in order to undermine your built-in resistance to the poetical concept. "

Arthur C. Clarke's novelisation, published after the films release seemed to many to explain the ending of the film more clearly, although purists are quick to point out that the novel differs in many key respects from the film, and should therefore not be regarded as the skeleton key to unlock it.

Certainly most people are in agreement on the following: that the room seems to represent some kind of interface between the aliens and Bowman. Perhaps a test? Or a cage of some sort? And his transformation into the baby is a kind of step up the evolutionary ladder for humanity.

It is worth noting a quotation in an article from the New York Times, circa 1966 in which Kubrick gave credence to interpretations of 2001 based of the book 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) by German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche. In the article, Kubrick appropriated Nietzsche's dictum that: 'man is a bridge between the apes and the Supermen; a laughing stock,' when he said: "Man is the missing link between primitive apes and civilised human beings Man is really in a very unstable condition." (2) The other indication of a Nietzsche connection is the choice of Richard Strauss' tone poem, 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' for the title music to 2001.


Further reading

This answer has deliberately avoided going into all the various speculative interpretations of 2001 in any detail. This is because a vast number of explanations already exist on-line, covering the whole spectrum of theories from quite plausible to utterly bizarre. If you're curious to read more, a good place to start your search is : Kubrick On The Web which lists various interpretations. For more detailed essays on the subject go to The Kubrick Site. as it has many original essays dealing with this question.

Kubrick quotation from the Joseph Gemelis interview on The Kubrick Site.  (back)

Other quotation taken from William Kloman's article in the New York Times: "In 2001, Will Love Be a Seven-Letter Word?" Available online at New York Times' Kubrick archive

18/ I noticed there is a record of the 2001 soundtrack on prominent display in A Clockwork Orange, does Kubrick make references to his own work in any other of his films?
There are SO many of these references that some have suggested the links might mean SK is creating one giant film over the course of his whole career.

From the Rolling Stone interview, 1987

Tim Cahill
People always look at directors, and you in particular, in the context of a body of work. I couldn't help but notice some resonance with Paths of Glory at the end of Full Metal Jacket: a woman surrounded by enemy soldiers, the odd, ambiguous gesture that ties these people together..."

Stanley Kubrick
"That resonance is an accident. The scene comes straight out of Gustav Hasford's book.

Tim Cahill
"So your purpose wasn't to poke the viewer in the ribs, point out certain similarities..? "

Stanley Kubrick
"Oh, God, no. I'm trying to be true to the material."

Although Kubrick was publicly dismissive about connections in his films his above statement needs to be set against the sheer amount of evidence to the contrary.

Here are a few of connections, but please note: this list is not definitive.

Paths of Glory / 2001
The large painting in Paths of Glory looks like the landscape that opens 2001. Also, both films use "The Blue Danube".

Paths of Glory / The Shining
In Paths of Glory the character Private Arnaud played by Joe Turkel says: "May I tell you something, Father? Back in my hometown there was a certain little cafe with a amusing sign over the bar. It read 'Do not be afraid to ask for credit, for our way of refusing is very polite.' Many years later, Turkel played the bartender in The Shining, reassures Jack that: "his credit's fine"

Paths of Glory / Dr. Strangelove / Barry Lyndon / Full Metal Jacket.
The looking down the barrel of the rifle shot

Spartacus / Lolita
In Lolita, Quilty played by Peter Sellers says, "No, I'm Spartacus. You come to free the slaves or something?"

Lolita / Dr Strangelove
Peter Sellers plays multiple roles in Lolita and Dr Strangelove.

Lolita / 2001
"You lost your new sweater?" asks Charlotte in Lolita. "A woman's cashmere sweater has been found..." says the intercom in 2001.

Lolita / The Shining
The hand opening the bathroom door shot is the same.

Lolita / The Shining
Humbert makes love to Charlotte while looking at a picture of the younger Lolita over Charlotte's shoulder. Jack kisses the naked woman in the bathroom, then sees her older, decomposing reality in the mirror over he shoulder

Dr Strangelove / 2001
The false-colour landscapes near the end of the 'stargate' trip in 2001 are similar to the high-altitude scenes during the bomb run in Dr Strangelove. (In fact Kubrick used out takes from Dr Strangelove for the Stargate planet shots in 2001 ).

Dr Strangelove / 2001 / A Clockwork Orange
The radio in the B52 bomber is 'CRM114' in Dr Strangelove, the serial number of one of one of the pods in 2001 pod is 'CRM114' and Alex is injected with 'serum 114', in A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange / The Shining
Alex cuts the back of Dim's hand in A Clockwork Orange; Wendy cuts the back of Jack's hand in The Shining.

A Clockwork Orange / The Shining
The posters in the Milkbar in A Clockwork Orange are a great deal like the ones in Hallorann's apartment in The Shining.

Barry Lyndon / A Clockwork Orange
In Barry Lyndon a painting by Ludovico Corde is bought by Barry, in A Clockwork Orange, the Ludovico treatment is given to Alex.

Barry Lyndon / A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Sharp plays the role of Lord Hallan - a 'former government minister' in Barry Lyndon, the same actor played the Minister of the Interior in A Clockwork Orange.

Barry Lyndon / Eyes Wide Shut
One of Dr. Bill's encounter with the Mysterious Woman at the masked ball is very reminiscent of Redmond Barry's first encounter with Lady Lyndon at the gambling party.

Eyes Wide Shut / 2001
In Eyes Wide Shut there is a poster with "Manning Bowman" written on it. Bowman was the commander of the first manned mission to Jupiter in 2001.

The Shining / Eyes Wide Shut
Jack's awakening from a nightmare and and tells it to his wife , Alice's awakening from her nightmare and tells it to her husband. Another Jack / Alice connection is Jack wants to stay in the hotel "forever and ever and ever" while Alice tells Bill not to use the word forever because it scares her.

A connection that never made it to the screen...
Canadian actor Douglas Rain was the voice of HAL in 2001 Kubrick quoted in Agels Making of Kubrick's 2001 said, "maybe next time I'll show Rain in the flesh, but it would be a non speaking part, which would perfectly complete the circle."


See Kubrick the Master Filmmaker For more self-referential connections and homages to Kubrick from other filmmakers.

19/ Has Kubrick worked on any other films apart from his own?
Kubrick worked on very few films made by other people, mostly when he was just starting out and under the wing of Richard de Rochemont, the producer of the March Of Time, who help the fledgling director finance his first feature Fear and Desire.

a) In the early 50's Kubrick took a job as second unit director on the "Omnibus" television series in the US for Richard de Rochemont. He work on some ofd the 5 episodes of the life of Abraham Lincoln. Kubrick was brought in to work on Lincoln for about a week shooting second unit in Kentucky.

b) Kubrick's directorial flair had caught the eye of Marlon Brando and he hired him for six months for a fee of a reported $100,000 to work on a screenplay and direct the Western "One Eyed Jacks (originally penned by Sam Pekinpah) with Marlon Brando and Calder Willingham as co-writers. When Kubrick took a look at the script he knew at once that it "needed work," and pitched in to solve its inherent problems. Five months later, after a series of conferences with Brando and associates, his contractual time was up, and he left the film. Kubrick has said that the relationship ended amicably a few weeks before Marlon began directing the film himself.

c) Ken Adam reported that Kubrick helped him set up the lighting of the tanker set of The Spy who Loved Me. They had built the set but the director of photography was afraid how the whole thing was going to be lit. Adams asked Kubrick to come in for some advice and he agreed on the condition that no one knew what was going on. He was afraid it might cause a bit of a ruckus and was also supposed to be working on 'The Shining' at the time. So when no one else was about, he creeped in to help with the set-ups.


20/ What is the inspiration for the title "Eyes Wide Shut"?
There are several theories about who came up with the title, and what it means, but no definitive answer. The following is collection of possibilities:

In early June of 1999 Frederick Raphael was asked to write an article for New Yorker Magazine entitled 'A Kubrick Odyssey', about his experiences working with Stanley Kubrick on what was to become Eyes Wide Shut.

Raphael became concerned with a lack of title for the project when they were deep into rewrites and faxed Kubrick a possible contender: 'The Female Subject.' Kubrick reportedly did not acknowledge receipt of this suggestion but some days later proposed 'Eyes Wide Shut' as the title he had decided upon.

There has been much speculation on amk as to what the title means and where it originated. The most popular contention is probably that he took it from a 1968 congratulatory fax from film director Franco Zeffirelli for '2001.' Zeffirelli said: 'You made me dream with my eyes wide open.' (1)

Another reference points to Kubrick's friend John Le Carré's novel "The Night Manager" which was written in 1993 which is about an arms dealer who seems as charming as Zeigler, just about as cold blooded. On page 270 of the US hard bound edition a very distraught femail character finally realizes she is little more than a gangster's moll and says "I'm in deep shit. I walked into this with eyes wide shut."

Recently it was suggested that it might have been inspired by a quotation by Benjamin Franklin: "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards." Strangely enough, Raphael might have been more responsible for the title than he was aware. for in his 1980 novella based on the myth of Gyges, 'The Hidden I' (1) he wrote: "Now what was left of that airless complicity in which nothing (she swore) could come between them? Now she was enlightened. Her eyes were open while his were shut. She saw it all".


(1) A quotation of Zeffirelli's fax can be found on page 171 of Jerome Agel's 'The Making Of Kubrick's 2001'.  (back)

(2) Schinitzler's novel can also be found under the titles 'Traumnovelle' or 'Rhapsody: A Dream Novel' (back)

(3) The Hidden I: A Myth Revised by Frederic Raphael with illustrations by Sarah Raphael was published in the UK by Thames And Hudson in 1990. Kubrick was aware of "The Hidden I" because Raphael mentions giving him a copy to him in his memoir of their collaboration.

21/ Why did Kubrick omit the last chapter of A Clockwork Orange in his filmed version?
Burgess offers his own explanation in the second volume of his autobiography, 'You've Had Your Time.'

"A Clockwork Orange was published in New York by WW Norton Inc. later in the year. Eric Swenson, Norton's vice-president insisted that the book lose its final chapter. I had to accede to this lopping because I needed the advance, but I was not happy about it. "

When Burgess first viewed Kubrick's film he realised he had followed the American edition of the book

Kubrick's opinion was expressed to Michel Ciment in an interview.

The end of A Clockwork Orange is different from the one in the Burgess book.

There are two different versions of the novel. One has an extra chapter. I had not read this version until I had virtually finished the screenplay. This extra chapter depicts the rehabilitation of Alex. But it is, as far as I am concerned, unconvincing and inconsistent with the style and intent of the book. I certainly never gave any serious consideration to using it.


(1) The Michel Ciment interview is available online at The Kubrick Site.

(2) The 21st chapter of A Clockwork Orange can be read online at The Kubrick Site.

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The Kubrick FAQ
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information on Stanley Kubrick
brief biography

The Shining
Section of FAQ dealing specifically with The Shining

contributors and credits
All the people who contributed to the FAQs


the films
Questions relating to Kubrick's films can be found in individual sections under the film's title