March 7, 2014

Video: A Look at Stanley Kubrick's Signature Themes from His Greatest Work

It has been fifteen years to the day since one of the greatest filmmakers to ever walk the planet unfortunately departed from it. Stanley Kubrick, who demonstrated his impeccable storytelling abilities in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and many others, died on this day back in 1999, and what better way to acknowledge the empty place the legendary auteur left in the cinematic world after his death than with a celebration of how he managed to give his films such presence during his life. Continue on to watch a video tribute to the late director that shines a light on his brilliant signature themes and cinematic techniques.

Quite honestly, we could talk about Kubrick's genius all day, from his sensibilities as a writer to his demand for perfection as a director. However, what he's really known for, at least to the general movie-goer, as well as his dedicated fans, are the incredible techniques he used in his cinematography. His visual style is recognized the world over -- inspiring generations of filmmakers to take risks in composition and staging, pushing the boundaries of the art form.

Kubrick uses several cinematic techniques in his films, including his one-point perspective shots that lean on symmetry and vanishing graphic vectors to give them their aesthetic edge. Check out this excellent video shared by Slate, which offers a selection of his most famous ones.

This video tribute, created by Alexandre Gasulla, compiles footage from Kubrick's films and demonstrates just how remarkable the artistry of the director really was. On a technical level, we see his hallmarks, like his use of extreme camera angles and close-ups, long tracking shots, and wide-angle lenses. But the way Kubrick manages to make these techniques work on an emotional level, however, is what makes him a master filmmaker.

We see how he captured the utter torment of his characters with close-ups, like in Alex's aversion therapy scene in A Clockwork Orange, their almost mindless and animalistic determination with long tracking shots, like when an axe-wielding Jack Torrance trudges through the snow in The Shining, and the madness of the general Kubrick universe with wide-angle shots.

Check out Gasulla's video tribute below.

What are your favorite Kubrickian cinematic techniques? Feel free to share and/or expound upon the topic in the comments below.

[via Alexandre Gasulla & Slate]

Your Comment

33 Comments

Harassing his talent.
I'm being earnest.

March 7, 2014 at 7:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Fred

Kubrick...again...

March 7, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That guy really would have been something, had he been able to use Red Dragon with 15 EV stops.

March 7, 2014 at 9:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Nice trolling, poor bait.

March 8, 2014 at 5:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

haha, pretty good.

March 9, 2014 at 7:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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andy

I'm glad the three of us got the humor. ; )

March 14, 2014 at 3:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hahaha what?

March 10, 2014 at 4:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christian Anderson

Unlike the pretentious ne'er do wells that like to post their smug ramblings on this site, I applaud the Kubrick articles, and personally wouldn't mind a Kubrick article a day.

March 7, 2014 at 10:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Neil Kripalski

Agreed and well-said. Stanley Kubrick is the single biggest factor in why I became a filmmaker. It's not enough to say that he influenced me or that I've paid homage to him in my work. This man is a personal hero of mine and nearly all of his films are meticulously assembled with nuance and detail. So maybe that makes me a fanboy - if that's all it takes to discredit one's opinion, then I'm sorry to have wasted your time. On the other hand, I'm obviously not the only fan of Kubrick's work, as many others have recognized his greatness long before I have.

March 8, 2014 at 12:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kalaab

RIP Kubrik ... I will always be a massive fan.

p.s: If you actually want one Kubrik article per day here would be a good place to start :)

http://cinearchive.org/tagged/Stanley-Kubrick

March 8, 2014 at 6:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Also a Kubrick fan boy. Its a tough life

March 14, 2014 at 3:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dominic Drummond

Kubrick was a master of the form. His eye informed the evolution of cinema for generations of filmmakers, until the day he died. This is also a great look at the man and his approach to the craft:
https://vimeo.com/78314194

March 7, 2014 at 11:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Honestly, the best way to appreciate the man is to watch his films.
Not to watch these half-assed tributes put together by office workers with a Vimeo account.

Sounds harsh, but my point is - don't let someone try and understand it for you. Experience it yourself.
You're better qualified.

March 8, 2014 at 3:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Fresno Bob

It was clearly put together by a bigger fan than you.... Try to be less you.

March 8, 2014 at 3:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Not quite sure you understand

March 8, 2014 at 5:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Fresno Bob

The point is to highlight recognized patterns in Kubrick's filmmaking style. Obviously, viewing the films on their own is a different experience. There really is no comparison. These "half-assed tributes" are still interesting to watch for those familiar with Kubrick's catalog.

March 10, 2014 at 4:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christian Anderson

I can't speak for every editor's motivation or intended audience, but I have a feeling that those who create Kubrick tributes are doing it more for their own enjoyment than for any particular audience. And of course, for the ultimate Kubrick tribute film, there's A Life in Pictures, and if that doesn't speak to the influence Kubrick had on modern filmmaking, I don't know what does. Are there any other directors that have had so many (and one high profile) tribute films dedicated to their work?

And for those here that aren't fans of Kubrick's films or feel that they're outdated, that doesn't mean there aren't important lessons and inspirations that can be gleaned from his career. Kubrick was a guy who had no money and no official college education, yet managed to crack the established film industry and not only earn a living from it, but bent the infrastructure - financial, technological and artistic - to his will. Love his work or hate his work, I think it would be hard to honestly say he wasn't a powerful force in filmmaking.

March 14, 2014 at 3:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Are we not sick of this yet?
Are you not sufficiently informed by the 100s of books, the excellent travelling exhibition, the constant promotion of the re-releases, the slavish knockoffs? He has become less a director than a cult, particularly in the US. Every frame is treated as if it sprung unbidden from his mind, every camera technique praised as if using a (single) fast lens changed filmmaking forever.
He was a very talented director, but his influences are very (VERY!) obvious, his storytelling is often a bit crap, and he wasn't even the 'best' American director of his generation! As for his themes, to quote an actor on set for EWS: "he really liked tits. He loved looking at tits".

March 8, 2014 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

It's an interesting point about the narrative and story telling (I guess we all get the tits point). A couple of night ago I watched a fairly recent (2008?) BBC show on the 1960's and 70's progressive rock movement that evolved from the earlier psychedelic scene (Pink Floyd, ELP, Yes, Procol Harum, Genesis, etc.) The prog rock introduced a more classical approach with multiple melodies and themes while abandoning a then prevalent pop structure of 2-3 melodies and a hook. Kubrick's "2001 SO" was really a visual equivalent of a 20-minute musical composition with its overlapping themes and story arcs and/or frequent lack thereof. Sometimes, the visual was there for the visual sensation alone much like prog rock bands had played note and sounds for the sake of the aural sensation alone. And then the question becomes, "How much prog rock and unstructured story telling can you get away with in the modern era?" Has the Hollywood blockbuster phase with its rigidly simple narrative and ultra expensive special effects reached its pinnacle and is losing its wonk appeal - it'll always play to the masses - while a more impressionistic approach with looser story points, longer monologues, a combination of neorealism and cinema verite making a (triumphant) return?
.
Let's face it - you can't make "Gravity" with C300. But you can make "Blue is the warmest color".

March 8, 2014 at 2:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

DLD

did you see this about the GH4K pricing? You probably did.

GH4K body, plus, YAGH interface base: $3299.99

http://shop.texasmediasystems.com/Panasonic-Lumix-GH4-DSLM-Camera-w-4K-V...

GH4K body alone: $1699.99

http://shop.texasmediasystems.com/Panasonic-Lumix-GH4-Body--4K-DSLM-Came...

March 8, 2014 at 9:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

WTF?

March 8, 2014 at 9:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcus

Man Marcus, you really have issues.

March 8, 2014 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Why did you randomly inject this information here?

March 9, 2014 at 6:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Swissted

It wasn't random. I was conversing with DLD. It is camera information that I am sure some wanted to know about. I can't see how a comment about the newly revealed price of the GH4K is a problem seeing that completely unproductive and even bullying comments are a regular part of comment threads at this web site and are not questioned by people like Marcus. I am sure there is productivity to that comment about the GH4K. I hope it's ok to try to talk about what is the hottest camera at the moment, and, that the price that has only been speculated on previously, was revealed yesterday.

I guess that's all.

Too bad Marcus, or whoever it was that replied that to me, would be sensitive about bullying and completely unproductive comments done by some, and try to find a way to let go of the bitterness about 4K.

March 10, 2014 at 12:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Also, I checked facebook last night before going out and saw the GH4K price. Then I came to NFS fully expecting to see a post about it. But there wasn't one. I went back to double check if what I saw at facebook wasn't fake. I saw it wasn't. So I came back here again and thought I'd ask DLD if he knew about it since he has so much knowledge about what is coming out and rumored prices.

I came back to NFS this morning expecting to see a post about the GH4K price. But still nothing, all day. I guess there'll be something by tomorrow morning.

...........................................................................

ADORAMA started taking pre-orders tonight for the GH4K, first come first served. They expect it to be delivered some time late April or in May.

link to ADORAMA pre-order:

http://www.adorama.com/IPCDMCGH4.html?utm_term=3buyjCStrxPUXPT00XWJuwl3U...

March 10, 2014 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

March 10, 2014 at 2:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I saw it like half hour ago. Which dovetails nicely into the recent 'too many damn movies" thread. Five years ago, I was sending people various YouTube links at 240 or 360 progressive. When videos came out at 480p (~ TV quality), it was such a relief. Now, you can make a 4K video with a $1,700 camera, upload it to any number of sites and then nearly immediately reach your audience. If people thought there were too many movies made with C300's and Alexas, wait until they're made with the likes of GH4 and its kind. There'll be more films than eyeballs and Hollywood will have to compete on the same playing field too. Interesting times ahead.

March 10, 2014 at 3:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Nope, we are not sick of this yet. No self-respecting filmmaker should ever tire of info on Kubrick.

March 9, 2014 at 6:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Swissted

Who doesn't like looking at tits? Let's be honest.

March 10, 2014 at 4:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christian Anderson

Yep, I'll never get tired of looking at and absorbing Kubrick's films - or tits.

March 13, 2014 at 10:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Deaf Ears

It strikes me that if he were alive he would probably be finishing is follow up to eyes Wide Shut just about now. RIP Stanley, you were one of the greats!

March 9, 2014 at 6:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ray Turner

Also check the excellent "Stanley Kubrick - The Works" from Joel Walden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RECC4arqQow

March 9, 2014 at 11:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rmanator

March 10, 2014 at 5:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mora