The Kubrick FAQ

Main Index

looking for the
answer to specific
questions? Try here

The Kubrick FAQ
(part 4)

Information on
Stanley Kubrick

brief biography

The Shining
Section of FAQ
dealing specifically
with The Shining

credits page

frequently asked questions part 4

34/ Is it true that Pink Floyd were asked to do the music for 2001? I heard that if you play the track Echoes from their album Meddle and the Stargate sequence from 2001 at the same time they match
There is an apparent correlation between the track Echoes and the Stargate sequence in that they are both 23 minutes long, and changes in the music seem to follow changes in the images. This has led some Pink Floyd fans to suggest that the coincidence is deliberate and that Pink Floyd composed the Echoes as an alternative soundtrack to the Stargate sequence of 2001. This is very unlikely. Here is a relevant quote from James Howard's new book 'The Stanley Kubrick Companion' that explains why:'

"The choice of suitable music for the film [2001] was by now becoming a significant factor in Kubrick's method of film-making. Although earlier movies had relied on relatively basic - and fairly unremarkable - music scores, Alex North's music for Spartacus had been rightly acclaimed, though still within the mainstream Hollywood tradition.... For the upcoming space epic, Kubrick - whose opinion was that, "in most cases, film music tends to lack originality" - initially thought that "a film about the future might be the ideal place for a really striking score by a major composer." The director spent endless hours listening to a wide range of contemporary recordings - including electronic - searching for "something that sounded unusual and distinctive but not so unusual as to be distracting." One source later claimed that Pink Floyd had been considered at one point - highly unlikely since they had yet to even release their first single while Kubrick was filming 2001 and, by 1968, had just sacked their main songwriter Syd Barrett and were yet to achieve anything like the fame and respect which Dark Side of the Moon would give them five years later. It was in December 1967 [...] that Alex North was brought on board to score 2001: A Space Odyssey".

Although Pink Floyd released 'A Saucerful of Secrets' in 1968, Kubrick would certainly not have heard this by the time the film was being completed - by December 1967, when North was engaged, their catalogue consisted only of two singles (Arnold Layne and See Emily Play) and one album (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn), none of which would have hinted at their suitability for 2001.

As for 'Echoes', this was not written, recorded or released until 1971 as one side of the 'Meddle' album, and - even if it does fit in with the 'Stargate' sequence from 2001 - could not have been written for the film.

Mr Chop Chop wrote: There is no evidence to suggest that Pink Floyd were ever asked to do any music for 2001. But the book 'Pink Floyd - In the Flesh' quotes the band's ex-bassist Roger Waters, who describes Kubrick's interest in using sections of their 1970 track 'Atom Heart Mother' as the basis of the soundtrack for the upcoming A Clockwork Orange. However, Kubrick wanted license to edit the track in any way he saw fit. Waters said no, so that was that.

Kubrick, never seemingly one to forget, got the last laugh 20 years later, refusing Waters the rights to use a sample from one of his films in a track on the solo album 'Amused To Death', hence Waters' backward-masked anti-Kubrick message on the album.

To fans of 2001 the zealousness by which some Pink Floyd fans appropriate 2001 little more than a visual accompaniment to a Pink Floyd song is sometimes a little irksome, as Ichowhip aptly put it: " I think it great that the Floyd are Kubrick fans. But for them to presume that they thought 2001 needed some "dressing up" is a display of intense hubris IMO. It would be like a really excellent tailor looking at Michelangelo's David, and then taking a tape measure to size him up, and then coming back and fitting a nice blazer on him because he thought he would look better."

To find out more about this connection check out


35/ How did Kubrick die?
Naturally, in his sleep, of a heart attack.

36/ Why did Kubrick use classical music for his films?
From an interview with Michel Ciment

"Exclude a pop music score from what I am about to say. However good our best film composers may be, they are not a Beethoven, a Mozart or a Brahms. Why use music which is less good when there is such a multitude of great orchestral music available from the past and from our own time? When you're editing a film, it's very helpful to be able to try out different pieces of music to see how they work with the scene. This is not at all an uncommon practice. Well, with a little more care and thought, these temporary music tracks can become the final score."

"When I had completed the editing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I had laid in temporary music tracks for almost all of the music which was eventually used in the film. Then, in the normal way, I engaged the services of a distinguished film composer to write the score. Although he and I went over the picture very carefully, and he listened to these temporary tracks (Strauss, Ligeti, Khatchaturian) and agreed that they worked fine and would serve as a guide to the musical objectives of each sequence he, nevertheless, wrote and recorded a score which could not have been more alien to the music we had listened to, and much more serious than that, a score which, in my opinion, was completely inadequate for the film. With the premiere looming up, I had no time left even to think about another score being written, and had I not been able to use the music I had already selected for the temporary tracks I don't know what I would have done.

The composer's agent phoned Robert O'Brien, the then head of MGM, to warn him that if I didn't use his client's score the film would not make its premiere date. But in that instance, as in all others, O'Brien trusted my judgement. He is a wonderful man, and one of the very few film bosses able to inspire genuine loyalty and affection from his film-makers."

37/ Are Kubrick's films cold and unemotional?
"I ought not to be regarded as a once happy man who has been bitten in the jugular and compelled to assume the misanthropy of a vampire"

Stanley Kubrick


This is perhaps the most often-stated criticism of Kubrick's work, and usually allied to some reference to his perfectionism, technical mastery, or the high number of takes he demanded of his actors. While, ironically, Kubrick's films abound with scenes of emotional extremity and "outrageous" performances, such as: Jack Nicholson in The Shining; George C. Scott in Dr Strangelove; Patrick Magee in A Clockwork Orange, etc. it's much more common for critics to cite Kubrick's "icy distance" from his "cold, unemotional characters" as the defining characteristic of his work. Arguably what these critics are reacting to after they have watched a Kubrick film is not what Kubrick has shown them, but on the contrary, what he has not - namely a work that conforms to the rules of conventional film grammar that heighten and telegraph emotion in order for the story to seem somehow more insistent, spectacular and important.

A quick comparison between, 2001 and 2010, exemplifies how this ensuing of dramatic technique works. Of all of Kubrick's films 2001 the one that has probably attracted the most vociferous criticisms of coldness and in fact many find this perceived coldness to be a salient "point" of the film' But a close examination of the film will reveal that most of what happens in the character driven scenes is normal people going about their normal jobs, miscommunicating or evading one another in both minor and major ways. and the conclusion that can be drawn from this is, what seems "inhuman" is simply an objective view of the various strategies of denial people employ in their lives in both normal and extreme circumstances. When set against the conventional dramatic strategies of 2010, the "normalcy" of Kubrick's film has a tendency to expose and moreover undermine the array of Hollywood trappings: arbitrary conflict, fraught backstory, and "passionate" heroes in Peter Hyams' sequel. But what 2010 lacks most compared to 2001 is any of the elements that created the depth of reality - or depth of emotional investment - one found with the comparatively staid Bowman and Poole.

Another aspect of the criticism of Kubrick's coldness is the "distance" he appears to put between himself and his subject matter (and perhaps by extension, between his films and their audience). Again this may be due to a misinterpretation of the subtle and unusual formal choices Kubrick routinely makes. His approach to filmmaking tended to balance cinematic elements: striking compositions; editing; use of music, with composed, almost theatrical interludes: "static" dialogue scenes, sometimes several minutes long, viewed from one angle, or with very minimal cutting. This "stillness" establishes both a sense of the life of the characters beyond the dialogue - and a sense that time is passing in the film as it does in reality - which in turn helps to reveal, in the spaces and silences, some of the emotional nature permeating the film's world. This peculiarly Kubrikean mode of presentation attempts to capture an illusive truth of a given world: in Barry Lyndon, the stillness of the early scenes underscores the importance of ceremony and rank in society; in A Clockwork Orange, the silences around the slang and aphorisms underscores the alienation, evasion and suspicion of that world; in The Shining, the open naturalism of the job interview and the doctor's visit underscores the unacknowledged gap between the Torrances' gestures of denial and their mutual discontent; in Full Metal Jacket, the mute discomfort of the marine recruits in the face of their DI's abuse underscores the tension between these soldiers' fear and their bravado once they're in Vietnam, trying to survive. In every case, what is happening appears both perfectly natural, and yet fully keyed to an emotional explosions building up on the horizon.

Finally Kubrick often placed the most emotionally explosive elements of his films in compositions that called attention to themselves, framing them in a kind of formalistic box. Some of this formalism is visual: Joker's "war face" in Full Metal Jacket; the close-up on Mr. Alexander as he realizes Alex's identity in A Clockwork Orange; the long Steadicam take of Jack coming up the stairs at Wendy in The Shining, and some is structural: the build up to Poole's murder in 2001; the way the narrator "spoils" a plot twist in Barry Lyndon. Wrongfooted by the unconventionality of these devices it may strike some viewers that Kubrick is making fun of his characters, or at least inviting his audience to view them with dispassionate detachment. But Kubrick presents these moments in this way so that we see them - must see them - as part of the larger social context of the film, not merely as events confined to a single character's experience. This intent, consciously or no, makes Kubrick's approach more than a little Brechtian. Brecht also frequently broke the audience's identification with a character's emotions so that they saw a larger view of the action. For example, with the narration in Barry Lyndon, the "spoiled" suspense of a moment focuses the viewer instead on how that moment happens, and why it came to happen, and what the consequences of its happening are, as opposed to showing merely the fact of its happening, as most conventional films do. While some viewers find this frustrating, others feel that it increases the depth of the film as a whole and their emotional experience in particular.


While it is false to say that Kubrick's films are cold per se, it is true that the majority of his films lean towards a pessimistic rather than optimistic view of humanity. However, it is overly simplistic see his approach to movie-making as evidence for a misanthropic personality, for as Kubrick himself remarked to Gene Siskel, "You don't have to make Frank Capra movies to like people."

In a Kubrick film, the emphasis often falls not so much on individuals, but on the society in which they operate, or the psychological motivation behind their behaviour. Alexander Walker (1) reported that: "If taxed about [his coldness] he'll laconically recall the words of Herman Kahn, (2) the A bomb apologist, who was reproached for a similar lack of caring. Yes, Kahn admitted, his apocalyptic overview of annihilation might have gained more adherents if he had introduced some warm human stresses into it." I believe this last remark hints at a different motivation for Kubrick's dark narratives than merely a personal preference for pessimism. In our own century, a century when humanity has acquired the terrifying power of self-annihilation, discovering our race's capacity for evil has become necessary for our very survival. Arguably, one of the functions of art is as a polemic - to inform this self-discovery and change attitudes and behaviour. For instance, Orwell's novel "1984" conveyed for many in democratic countries the evils of totalitarianism, personifying them as "Big Brother." This created a powerful symbol that could be employed to galvanise public opposition to any emerging signs of those tendencies. Modern artists like Kubrick seek not to celebrate or idealise the human condition (as so much of Hollywood's output does) but hold up a mirror to ourselves, so that we may see our vanities, our repressed emotions, our deceptions and our tendency to violence and brutality more clearly.

Accusations of coldness then? Or just our veiled attempts to blame the messenger for the message? One of the characteristics of Kubrick's approach to filmmaking, as Alexander Walker articulated, is the way he manages to "bypass such value judgements and infiltrate the viewers' subconscious by more subtle and direct means." (1a)


(1) Quotations taken from It's Only a Movie Ingrid by Alexander Walker .  (back)

(1a) ibid.

(2) Otto Herman Kahn. A futurologist who died in 1983, founder of the Hudson institute. Kahn's "On Thermonuclear War," published in 1960 arguably, according to Forbes, charted a course toward the missile defence, systems of Reagan's "Star Wars" (SDI) program  (back)

38/ Are Lucas Spielberg remaking ACO?
The Clockwork Orange remake rumour was in fact an April fool's joke, posted on the Mr.Showbiz website in 1999. For a while this story would not die, no matter how many times it was denied. Rumours eh!


39/ Did Kubrick have a preference for any aspect of the filmmaking process?
"Everything you do can be ruined, if you don't stand by and see it's cut the way you want it."

Stanley Kubrick


Kubrick was known as one of the most technically accomplished directors, familiar with every aspect of filmmaking. When he worked with his first Hollywood crew on The Killing he knew enough about cinematography to instruct studio veterans on the lighting set-ups he wanted. As James B. Harris attests: We were working with a very prestigous cameraman named Lucien Ballard, It wasn't long before he stopped coming to the dalies. Stanley was telling him how to light the scenes." One electrician said: "I've been in this business 30 years, and I'm learning stuff from this kid." (2) Kubrick in interviews has always expressed a preference for editing and is present during the entire editing process effectively making the decision to cut all the sequences in his films.

"I think I enjoy editing the most. It's the nearest thing to some reasonable in which to do creative work. Writing, of course, is very satisfying, but, of course, you're not working with film. The actual shooting of a film is probably the worst circumstances you could try to imagine for creating a work of art. There is, first of all, the problem of getting up very early every morning and going to bed very late every night. Then there is the chaos, confusion, and frequently physical discomfort. It would be, I suppose, like a writer trying to write a book while working at a factory lathe in temperatures that range from 95 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to this, of course, editing is the only aspect of the cinematic art that is unique. It shares no connection with any other art form: writing, acting, photography, things that are major aspects of the cinema, are still not unique to it, but editing is. "

(1) James B. Harris quotation taken from Premiere magazine August '99 issue.  (back)

(1) Other quotations taken from Hollis Albert's article in the New York Times, "'2001': Offbeat Director In Outer Space," available online at New York Times' Kubrick archive  (back)

40/ what did Kubrick think of the education system?
The normal high school curriculum didn't much appeal to Kubrick -- he believed that schools should concentrate on the teaching "problem solving" and not on "rote memorization of the characters in books and plays." (1)

"I never learned anything at school and I didn't read a book for pleasure until I was nineteen years old"

"I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting falling grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker." (2)

(1) Quote taken from 2001 foyer program available online in both text from at The Kubrick Site and with images at The 2001: A Space Odyssey Program

(2) Quote taken from "The Making of Kubrick's 2001," by Jerome Agel (page 111)

41/ How did Kubrick see a directors role?
"I come up with the ideas. That is essentially the director's job. There's a misconception, I think, about what directing actors means: it generally goes along the lines of the director imposing his will over difficult actors, or teaching people who don't know how to act. I try to hire the best actors in the world. The problem is one a conductor might face. There's little joy in trying to get a magnificent performance from a student orchestra. It's difficult enough to get one with all the subtleties and nuances you might want out of the greatest orchestra in the world. You want to have great virtuoso soloists, and so with actors. Then it's not necessary to teach them how to act or to impose your will on them because usually there is no problem along those lines. An actor will almost always do what you want him to do if he is able to do it; and, therefore, since great actors are able to do almost anything, you find you have few problems. You can then concentrate on what you want them to do, what is the psychology of the character, what is the purpose of the scene, what is the story about? These are the things that are often muddled up and require simplicity and exactitude.

The director's job is to provide the actor with ideas, not to teach him how to act or to trick him into acting. There's no way to give an actor what he hasn't got in the form of talent. You can give him ideas, thoughts, attitudes. The actor's job is to create emotion. Obviously, the actor may have some ideas too, but this is not what his primary responsibility is. You can make a mediocre actor less mediocre, you can make a terrible actor mediocre, but you cannot go very far without the magic. Great performances come from the magical talent of the actor, plus the ideas of the director.

The other part of the director's job is to exercise taste: he must decide whether what he is seeing is interesting, whether it's appropriate, whether it's of sufficient weight, whether it's credible. These are decisions no one else can make.

Quotes taken from Strick & Houston's 1969 interview for Sight & Sound magazine available to read online at The Kubrick Site

42/ What are some characteristics of Kubrick's direction of actors?
After "Killer's Kiss," which suffered from spotty performances, he spent a great deal of time running old films and analyzing those effects that came from a director's manipulation of his actors. He also boned up on acting theory. During his brief tenure at MGM, after being put on salary by Dore Schary, he went through the studio's film vaults and made such heavy use of the executive screening room--watching star performances of the past--that he was subjected to an executive reprimand. He also learned how to cope with the actor's ego, and part of his technique is to mask his own.

At the same time, his air of knowledge can, according to Kirk Douglas, infuriate an actor at first. "Then," Douglas adds, "you settle down and admire him."

One critical test of Kubrick's control came during the making of "Paths of Glory." He made the veteran actor Adolphe Menjou do the same scene 17 times. "That was my best reading." Menjou announced. "I think we can break for lunch now." It was well past the usual lunch time but Kubrick said he wanted another take.

Menjou went into an absolute fury. In front of Douglas and the entire crew he blasted off on what he claimed was Kubrick's dubious parentage, and made several other unprintable references to Kubrick's relative greenness in the art of directing actors.

Kubrick merely listened calmly, and, after Menjou had spluttered to an uncomplimentary conclusion, said quietly: "All right, let's try the scene once more." With utter docility, Menjou went back to work. "Stanley instinctively knew what to do," Douglas says.

On the other hand, when Kubrick senses that an actor can add creatively to the picture, he is inclined to give him his head. He allowed Peter Sellers in "Dr. Strangelove" to improvise whole scenes. Neither Laurence Olivier nor Peter Ustinov was wholly satisfied with his lines--provided by Dalton Trumbo--in "Spartacus," and they spent several weekends contriving new ones. Kubrick, aware that some were good and some were not, let them do scenes their way, but always made sure to get the takes he wanted. In the cutting room, he put together a Ustinov performance that won an Academy Award.

How do you get a good performance from your actors?

The director's job is to know what emotional statement he wants a character to convey in his scene or his line, and to exercise taste and judgement in helping the actor give his best possible performance. By knowing the actor's personality and gauging his strengths and weaknesses a director can help him to overcome specific problems and realize his potential. But I think this aspect of directing is generally overemphasized. The director's taste and imagination play a much more crucial role in the making of a film. Is it meaningful? Is it believable? Is it interesting? Those are the questions that have to be answered several hundred times a day.

It's rare for a bad performance to result from an actor ignoring everything a director tells him. In fact it's very often just the opposite. After all, the director is the actor's sole audience for the months it takes to shoot a film, and an actor would have to possess supreme self-confidence and supreme contempt for the director to consistently defy his wishes. I think you'll find that most disappointing performances are the mutual fault of both the actor and the director.

Some directors don't let their actors see the daily rushes. Do you?

Yes. I've encountered very few actors who are so insecure or self-destructive that they're upset by the rushes or find their self-confidence undermined. Actually, most actors profit by seeing their rushes and examining them self- critically. In any case, a professional actor who's bothered by his own rushes just won't turn up to see them -- particularly in my films, since we run the rushes at lunch time and unless an actor is really interested, he won't cut his lunch to half an hour.

On the first day of shooting on the set, how do you establish that rapport or fear or whatever relationship you want with your actors to keep them in the right frame of mind for the three months you'll be working with them?

Certainly not through fear. To establish a good working relationship I think all the actor has to know is that you respect his talent enough to want him in your film. He's obviously aware of that as long as you've hired him and he hasn't been foisted on you by the studio or the producer.

Do you rehearse at all?

There's really a limit to what you can do with rehearsals. They're very useful, of course, but I find that you can't rehearse effectively unless you have the physical reality of the set to work with. Unfortunately, sets are practically never ready until the last moment before you start shooting, and this significantly cuts down on your rehearsal time. Some actors, of course, need rehearsals more than others. Actors are essentially emotion-producing instruments, and some are always tuned and ready while others will reach a fantastic pitch on one take and never equal it again, no matter how hard they try. In Strangelove, for example, George Scott could do his scenes equally well take after take, whereas Peter Sellers was always incredibly good on one take, which was never equalled.

At what point do you know what take you're going to use?

On some occasions the take is so obviously superior you can tell immediately. But particularly when you're dealing with dialogue scenes, you have to look them over again and select portions of different takes and make the best use of them. The greatest amount of time in editing is this process of studying the takes and making notes and struggling to decide which segments you want to use; this takes ten times more time and effort than the actual cutting, which is a very quick process. Purely visual action scenes, of course, present far less of a problem; it's generally the dialogue scenes, where you've got several long takes printed on each angle on different actors, that are the most time-consuming to cut.

Quotations taken from Hollis Albert's article in the New York Times, "'2001': Offbeat Director In Outer Space," available online at New York Times' Kubrick archive

Other Quotations taken from the interview with Joseph Gemelis available to read online at The Kubrick Site

43/ What did Kubrick's colleagues think of him?
Marlon Brando
"Stanley is unusually perceptive, and delicately attuned to people. He has an adroit intellect, and is a creative thinker--not a repeater, not a fact-gatherer. He digests what he learns and brings to a new project original point of view and a reserved passion."

Kirk Douglas
"He'll be a fine director some day, if he falls flat on his face just one. It might teach him how to compromise."

George C. Scott.
"He's so self-effacing and apologetic it's impossible to be offended by him."

Chris Cunningham - promo director
"He was a really lovely, really normal bloke. He was totally relaxed and had a brilliant sense of humour. the press totally got the wrong idea, but if you don't do interviews people have to blow what already exists out of proportion."

Diane Johnson - co author of The Shining screenplay
"He was a funny, brilliant, well-read eater of Chinese sweet-and-sour ribs and an appreciative watcher of other people's movies, loyal to old friends, a tender-hearted animal lover, father, and husband, and of course a brilliant filmmaker."

Matthew Modine
"He's probably the most heartfelt person I ever met. It's hard for him, being from the Bronx with that neighbourhood mentality, and he tries to cover it up. Right underneath that veneer is a very loving, very conscientious man, who doesn't like pain, who doesn't like to see humans suffering or animals suffering. I was really surprised by the man."

Frederic Raphael - co writer Eyes Wide Shut
"That Stanley Kubrick was the most remarkable film-maker of his generation should not need saying. He was an innovator for whom conventional formulae and habits were never appealing. He liked to succeed but success was never enough to justify bad work; nor was good work rendered less worthwhile by lack of applause. He knew failure - and humiliation - as well as success; he had often been frustrated by the system which, by his guile and brilliance, he seemed - in the end, at least - to have transcended."

Steven Spielberg
``Stanley Kubrick was the grandmaster of filmmaking. He copied no one, while all of us were scrambling to imitate him,''

Wendy Carlos
"Stanley loved animals, and was often surrounded by assorted purring cats and affable dogs. He was mostly quiet-spoken and easy to take in person, a bit detached like the cool chess expert he also was, and I seldom heard him angry. [...] He would meet you and at once gather closer and focus on you, your thoughts, experiences, and collected tidbits of knowledge and expertise. It made one feel rather important, and valuable to the project afoot, but it did not seem planned or phoney."

Michael Herr - Co-author of the Full Metal Jacket screenplay
"One of the most gregarious men I ever knew"

For more personal recollections from colleges and friends, check out this excellent article by Peter Bogdanovitch at

44/ Why did Kubrick live in the UK?
Do you have any reluctance to work in Hollywood while the studio chiefs stand over the director's shoulder?

No, because I'm in the fortunate position where I can make a film without that kind of control. Ten years ago, of course, it would have been an entirely different story.

You don't consider yourself an expatriate then?

Not at all.

Why not? You've lived in England seven years and made your last three films there -- even those which were set in America.

Yes, but there's nothing permanent about my working and living in England. Circumstances have kept me there until now, but it's quite possible I'll be making a film in America in the future. And in any case, I commute back and forth several times a year.

from an interview with Joseph Gemelis, 1969


It was necessary to make Lolita in England for a number of reasons: it was cheaper (The Eady Plan gave a bursary to filmmakers who were prepared to use British technicians and actors), it avoided censorship problems, and one of its stars, Peter Sellers, was in the process of getting a divorce and could not leave the country for extended periods. This made filming Lolita in the UK a necessary and attractive proposition. Kubrick remembers: "By the time I decided to do 2001 I had gotten so acclimated to working in England that it would have been pointless to tear up roots and move everything to America." He said of London: "Next to Hollywood, [it] is probably the second best place to make a film, because of the degree of technical expertise and facilities you find in England" Michael Herr reported that: "the English work ethic drove him nuts. The crew would call him "Squire" on the set and he got so pissed off at their endless tea breaks that he wanted to film them surreptitiously when he was shooting Lolita. there in 1961. He said, England's a place where it is much more difficult to buy something than to sell something""

By the mid 1960's Kubrick had moved his family to the UK permanently, buying a large house 14 miles north of London - Abbots Mead. In 1979 he moved again into Childwick Bury, an old manor house with a bell tower and 172 acres of land outside St Albans.

The rise in violent crime in the US in the 1970's may have been a factor in his never returning there to live, as he said to Craig McGregor of the New York Times in 1972: "New York City, for example, is the sort of place where people feel very unsafe. Nearly everyone seems to know someone who's been mugged. All you have to do is add to that a little economic disappointment, and the increasingly trendy view that politics are a waste of time and problems have to be solved instantly, and I could see very serious social unrest in the States which would probably resolved by a very authoritarian government. [..] And then you could only hope would have a benevolent despot rather than an evil one. A Tito rather than a Stalin--though of the Right."

Michael Herr Reported that: "Though it was widely believed that a rabid anti-American streak was responsible for Kubrick's move to England in the early '60s, the director was nostalgic enough to have friends videotape American football games and commercials for him. He was also a big fan of "Roseanne," "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons." And he considered leaving England, if only briefly. "He once asked me if I'd mind moving with my family to Vancouver for a year to check it out for him," Herr recalls; "and he heard Sydney was a great place, maybe I could try that out for him, too."

Quotations taken from Craig McGregor's article in the New York Times, "Nice Boy From the Bronx?," available online at New York Times' Kubrick archive

and Michael Herr's article on Kubrick for Vanity Fair - July 1999

45/ What Kind of recognition did Kubrick get from his peers?
In 1978 Cinémathèque Royal in Belgium polled 200 international film specialists (critics and people who worked in the film industry) on the most important films in the history of American Cinema. Kubrick was cited 138 times in this poll, in front of every other post war director. His name appearing in 16th place over all.

From Michel Ciment's Kubrick

46/ What was the favourite Kubrick movie of other notable directors?
The French magazine Positif recently asked directors about the Stanley Kubrick film that meant the most to them. The favourites were as followed

 1 : 2001: A Space Odyssey
 2 : Paths of glory
 3 : Dr Strangelove / A Clockwork Orange
 5 : Barry Lyndon
 6 : Full metal Jacket
 7 : Lolita
 8 : The Killing
 9 : The Shining
10 : Spartacus / Killer's Kiss

The poll was conducted before the release of Eyes Wide Shut. Pascal Ferran saw it because she dubbed it into French and two other quoted it without seeing it. "No answer" means that either they didn't answer the question or said something like "it's too difficult to pick one". it doesn't necessarily mean they don't like SK's movies.

Woody Allen : Paths Of Glory
Robert Altman : No Answer
Gianni Amelio : Paths Of Glory
Théo Angelopoulos : No Answer
Marco Bellochio: No Answer
John Boorman : All
Catherine Breillat : Lolita
Jane Campion : Paths Of Glory, Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining
Claude Chabrol : Lolita, Full Metal Jacket
Francis Ford Coppola : Dr Strangelove
Alain Corneau : The Killing
Michel Deville : The Shining , Full Metal Jacket
Carlos Diegues: Killer's Kiss
Stanley Donen : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Bruno Dumont : Barry Lyndon
Clint Eastwood : Paths Of Glory
Atom Egoyan : HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey
Pascal Ferran : Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut
William Friedkin : Paths Of Glory, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Killing, Full Metal Jacket (First 40 Minutes)
Rol De Heer : 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr Strangelove
Jean-Pierre Jeunet : A Clockwork Orange
Pierre Jolivet : Paths Of Glory
Philip Kaufman : A Clockwork Orange
Elia Kazan : No Answer
Irvin Keshner : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Emir Kusturika : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Patrice Leconte : Paths Of Glory
Mike Leigh : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Richard Lester : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Sidney Lumet : 2001: A Space Odyssey, Paths Of Glory
Dusan Makavejev : The Shining, Spartacus, Paths Of Glory, Dr Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Mario Martone : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Laetitia Masson : The Killing, Lolita, Full Metal Jacket
Claude Miller : Barry Lyndon
Gaspar Noé : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Marcel Ophuls : Lolita
Lucian Pintillie : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Roman Polanski : A Clockwork Orange
Sydney Pollack : Dr Strangelove, Barry Lyndon
Alain Resnais : 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket
Arturo Ripstein : Paths Of Glory
Fransesco Rosi : Dr Strangelove
Claude Sautet : 2001: A Space Odyssey
Jerry Schatzberg : Paths Of Glory
Martin Scorsese : Barry Lyndon
Oliver Stone : Dr Strangelove
Bertrand Tavernier : No Answer
Paolo and  
Vittorio Taviani :
Paths Of Glory

Thanks to Denis for this information


47 What is the CRM-114 thing?
CRM 114 made it first appearance in a Kubrick film in Dr Strangelove (1963), according to the production designer, Ken Adam, "Stanley was so steeped in his material [that] his conversation was full of megadeaths, gyro headings and CRM 114s." The source is Peter Bryant's(1) book "Red Alert," Communication officer Mellows is describing the code procedure to Captain Brown:

"To ensure the enemy cannot plant false transmissions and fake orders, once the attack orders have been passed and acknowledged the CRM 114 is to be switched into the receiver circuit. The three code letters of the period are to be set on the alphabet dials of the CRM 114, which will then block any transmissions other than those preceded by the set letters from being fed into the receiver." (2)

Kubrick, allegedly made references it to CRM 114 in a number of his subsequent films, most notably in A Clockwork Orange Alex is injected with 'serum 114', additionally one of the pods in 2001 is marked with this code and, in Eyes Wide Shut the morgue is said to be located in room 14, C-wing, 1st floor, although I cannot confirm this even after very close scrutiny of the film. There may be many other CRM references in Barry Lyndon, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket films but as yet they are too cleverly buried to have come to light. Although I think its more likely that there actually are less CRM 114s in Kubrick's film than Kubrick fans might imagine.

Kubrick told Paul D. Zimmerman in an Newsweek interview circa 1971 that experiencing moments of inspiration like the Malcolm McDowell's rendition of "Singin' in the Rain," was why he spent so much time on key scenes in his films. He called these moments "Critical Rehearse Moments," or points of time "where the actor and director come together to created a defining scene in a film." Another such moment is Jack Nicholson's line "Here's Johnny" from The Shining - which he apparently improvised on set. Some have suggested (erroneously we now know) that the "critical rehearse moment" was the inspiration for the CRM.

Kubrick was fond of word and number games. The CRM 114 is perhaps a parlour game to give his admirers something else to think about, or an acknowledgement that truth sometimes has to be decoded like a cipher, or it is merely a little gift to reward those who are paying attention.


(1) The novel was written by Peter George using the nom de plume "Peter Bryant." George was one of the co-writers of the Dr. Strangelove screenplay. Originally published in the U.K. as "Two Hours to Doom" this novel was part of a sub-genre of apocalyptic fiction that sprang up in the late 1950s -- led by Nevil Shute's "On the Beach." Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler's later bestseller "Fail Safe" so closely resembled "Red Alert" in its premise that Peter George sued on the charge of plagiarism and won an out-of-court settlement. The Sydney Lumnet film "Fail Safe" was released concurrently with Dr Strangelove in 1964. (back)

(2) Clay Waldrop writes:
There is (or was) a piece of equipment in the USAF that did the job of the CRM-114. The designation seems bogus, however. When I was in the USAF in the '60s, the nomenclature in use was to use three-letter prefixes to narrow down the type of equipment as follows:

first letter = A for airborne, G for ground
second letter = category of equipment, some of which are: C = communications, L = countermeasures, F = fire control.
third letter = subcategory of equipment, which depends on the category.

After that followed a three-digit number that described an exact piece of equipment; it served the function of a model number.

Some of the common ones would be:

ACR = airborne communications receiver (probably the "real" CRM)
ALT = airborne countermeasures transmitter
GLR = ground countermeasures receiver

48 Does anyone know anything about Kubrick's early film "World Assembly of Youth?"
World Assembly of Youth was allegedly an early Kubrick film that has been lost. Evidence for its existence came from John Baxter, who uncovered a career resumé Kubrick sent veteran New York film critic Theodore Huff in February 1953. In the resumé Kubrick refers to World Assembly of Youth as a film he worked on alongside other documentaries he is known to have directed such as Day of the Fight, The Flying Padre and The Seafarers .

AMK participant Alex Pietrzak (1) thoroughly investigated the whereabouts of this alleged lost Kubrick film, contacting the State Department and the Library Of Congress. After many dead ends, he eventually emailed Baxter himself and received this reply.

John Baxter:
"My knowledge of Kubrick's World Assembly of Youth involvement is no more than the reference in his letter to Ted Huff ... but maybe only as cameraman on one or more documentaries which had State funding. He might even have been simply a stills man.

Alex Pietrzak:
"Yes, this is what I think as well. I have a pretty good hunch it was one of those 'Youth Wants To Know!" doc. episodes, but it's pretty unlikely anyone could prove which one, or what he did exactly. The unfortunate aspect of your brief statement on page 51 [of your Kubrick biography] is that people are now under the impression that there is a 'lost Kubrick film' to be found. Several websites devoted to Kubrick are actually listing "The World Assembly Of Youth" as a title DIRECTED by Kubrick."


(1) Alex is releasing the Seafarers on DVD. To purchase a copy, or for further details go to .  (back)

49 What are Non-Submersible Units?
"[Stanley] had a contempt for narrative, I was hooked on narrative. But he said to me: forget it, all you need for a movie is 6 or 8 non-submersible units."

Brian Aldiss


Non-submersible units are fundamental story pieces, the irreducible core of a narrative when all the non essential "padding" has been stripped away. According to Brian Aldiss, Kubrick's collaborator on the scipt for AI, "One of the many sensible and perceptive comments he made over the years was that a movie consists of, at most, say 60 scenes, whereas a book can have countless scenes. So, he said, it's very difficult to boil down a novel to make a film, as he found with The Shining. Much easier to take a short story and turn that into a major movie. 'All you need is six non-submersible units. Forget about the connections for the moment [...] once you've heard this, you see how 2001 was constructed."

Following on from Aldiss' last remark, here is a breakdown of 2001 into its 7 non-submersible parts.

1/ The monolith visits humankind in its infancy

2/ An early man discovers technology (Moon Watcher smashes the bones)

3/ The monolith is excavated on the moon by astronauts and sends a message to Jupiter

4/ Humankind send a manned mission to Jupiter to investigate

5/ Advanced technology (Hal) endangers the mission crew

6/ Technology is defeated and the surviving cremember rendezvous with the aliens

7/ The Starchild is born


Aldiss quotes from Paul Joyce's "The Last Movie" and John Baxter's biography page: 356.

50 Who was responsible for the digital censoring of Eyes Wide Shut?
In short, the MPAA, the American censors. Kubrick's brother in law Jan Harlan explains: "The film was first shown on the first of March to Bob Daily, Tom Cruise and Nicolle Kidman in New York. They absolutely loved the film. Stanley was very, very happy and died a week later.

We had to show a copy of the print to the MPAA and they insisted that the orgy scene be changed. How do you change it? Had Stanley lived, he would have because he had to deliver an R-rating that was not to be discussed and of course was out of the question. But had he lived, he would have re-cut it. It's very easy to do. I could have done it. Anybody can do it. You just go back to Tom and in the objectionable copulation scenes are visible, you just go back to Tom walking and looking and then you go back and then that's how you do it.

But we couldn't do that. There would have been an uproar had Warner Bros. or anybody cut Stanley's cut. So we had only one option and that is to add electronically or digitally, more of the black cloaks bit by bit and as little as possible until the MPAA agreed it is now an R-rating.

From an interview with Jan Harlan on

51 What happened to the models and props used in 2001?
Qbrick15 writes;
Frederick Ordway (technical/scientific advisor to Kubrick) said that almost all of the props were destroyed. He said that, at one time, there was a plan to donate all of it to the Smithsonian, but that Stanley felt uncomfortable about it because he felt that it may destroy the illusion of the film for people.

Then Ordway said that a high school (Borehamwood?) was supposed to get all of the artifacts from the film. This never happened and the school was upset about it. Ordway said that he believes almost all of the artifacts have been destroyed and he hinted that they were destroyed when MGM closed their Borehamwood facility in the 1970's.


2001 Space Station
Trevor Parsons writes
I was at college in Stevenage (about 15 miles away from St Albans in the early 1970's). Our studio, we were studying graphic art, faced the entrance to the local corporation dump. One afternoon in 1974 a truck turned up after the dump was closed & left some crates in the entrance way. They contained 2 of the models used in 2001, the space wheel & one of the pods. Of course they may not have been the only ones but I believe they were genuine (the film had been made about 20 miles away at Boreham Wood the old MGM studios). By the time I got there the pod had been taken, the space wheel damaged & taken out its wooden case. I took pictures of it, its surface had been covered with bits of old plastic construction kits to make it look more technical when filmed. I desperately wanted to take it home, but I only had a motor bike & a room 8 feet by 10 so it was not really workable. It was smashed up by kids a few days later.

52 Why did kubrick demand so many takes?
whatever it took to "get it right" as he always called it. What he meant by that I couldn't say, nor could hundreds of people who have worked for him, but none of us doubted that he knew what he meant.

Michael Herr

One of the most perceptive explanations for Kubrick demanding so many takes came from a recent interview with Nicole Kidman. She explained : "He believed that what it does to you, as an actor, was that you would lose control of your sense of self, of the part of you that was internally watching your own performance. Eventually, he felt, you would stop censoring yourself."

(1) Michael Herr quote comes from his book "Kubrick"

(2) Nicole Kidman quote come from an interview at


See the contents section (below) for more answers.

Looking for the answer to a specific question? Try here first.

The Kubrick FAQ
Go back to the start of this document.

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