July 6, 2014

Exploring the Best Films That Stanley Kubrick Never Made

Even though director Stanley Kubrick has gone down in history as one of the greatest filmmakers in all of cinematic history, he wasn't what you would call prolific. Being an obsessively meticulous perfectionist, who researched every tiny detail of his films for years before he ever went into production, Kubrick only managed to make 13 feature films in his nearly half century-long career. However, if Kubrick had had it his way, he'd have several more titles to add to his filmography, and this short documentary narrated by Malcolm McDowell explores some of Kubrick's unrealized films, which overflow with rich design and incredible detail even without ever having made it to the silver screen.

I'm sure most of us have films that we spent a lot of time in pre-production on -- planning stuff here and there, picking out color schemes, taking pictures of a location we'd like to use -- only to find that the project fizzled, the bottom dropped out, or some other horrible thing happened that kept us from moving on into production. Well, Kubrick experienced that pang of a lost project several times in his career, unfortunately on some of his most epic ideas.

Kubrick wanted to tackle Napoleon (not literally) as well as the Holocaust at some point in his career, and when the time came for him to begin moving on these ideas, he went full steam ahead. As you'll see in the documentary below, Kubrick painstakingly researched the French Emperor, even sending his assistant, Andrew Birkin, to Paris during the height of the student revolution to find Napoleonic artifacts. And probably the most impressive of Kubrick's research projects, was a file cabinet he filled with index cards that documented every single day of the life of Napoleon.

Research is where Kubrick made his films; the more he learned, the more the world of the film began to grow around him. However, in the real world, these projects quickly faded into obscurity thanks in part to scheduling problems (films about Napoleon and Nazi Germany came out around the time Kubrick was working on his), Production Code problems (he expressed a desire to adapt several novels, including Stefan Zweig's Burning Secret -- which was actually adapted into a film later on anyway), and family commitments (his daughter became pregnant when Kubrick was deciding whether or not to shoot The Aryan Papers, so he chose to scrap it, since his wife wouldn't be able to assist him).

https://vimeo.com/99288975

Kubrick, I'm sure like many other filmmakers, had to go through losing projects for one reason or another. It's just a shame to know that one of the greatest, most brilliant filmmakers of all time could've made more films for us to enjoy, study, and learn from. (But at least we got A.I. right? Kind of?)

[via frame-paradiso]

Your Comment

24 Comments

They don't make them like this anymore. Pure absolute genius.

July 6, 2014 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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It's amazing how different the film industry is right now.

Back then "oh, someone else is making a similar movie that will be released around the same time as mine? Fine I won't make it"

Now "oh, someone else is making a similar movie that will be released around the same time as mine? Looks like I better find similar actors so I can release almost an identical movie"

July 6, 2014 at 11:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Julian

Julian, get your gear. We need to save the President.

July 7, 2014 at 1:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jared

I'm in too.

July 7, 2014 at 10:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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His lost projects are fascinating what-if tales. Don't know how stoked I'm supposed to be about Spielberg making a mini series out of Kubrick's Nepolean project. For awesome highlights on the unfinished works, Michael Ciment's book "Kubrick" is awesome. Forward by Martin Scorsese!

July 7, 2014 at 2:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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There are two things I disagree with that was stated in this article: Kubrick wasn't prolific, and making it sound like a negative circumstance that he only made 13 films. I personally believe 2001: A Space Odyssey had a profoundly spiritual message behind it that not only applies today, but will continue to. If that isn't prolific then I am not quit sure what qualifies. Kubrick's films speak to the newest generations today and have new meaning the longer they survive. I would rather have 13 works of the highest form of cinema created as opposed to many more that may have not gotten the attention that a Kubrick work of art requires. I am not trying to attack the author of the article at all, Kubrick is a subject I probably take a little too serious. I do enjoy all the articles she writes, plus she is a woman filmmaker and looks to be attractive, although I only have a tiny photo to go off of. I just can't get down with the statement "he isn't what you would call prolific."

July 7, 2014 at 10:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Adam

Prolific means "present in large numbers or quantities; plentiful". She's not wrong. With such a long career, Kubric was anything but prolific. It sounds like you're thinking of the word "profound".

July 7, 2014 at 10:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juicy

Touche

July 7, 2014 at 10:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Adam

I was with you (barring the 'prolific' mixup) until you said that the article author is a woman filmmaker and 'looks to be attractive', in the same breath. Is that really the most appropriate judgement that ran through your head of the author as a person? I'm surprised that someone as attentive to high forms of cinema as yourself is unable to compliment a female peer other than to reduce her to her appearance alone, completely ignoring her merit as a filmmaker/blogger and her understanding of vocabulary such as 'prolific'.

July 12, 2014 at 11:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alex

I agree. There is a certain preoccupation with quantity over quality (Big Mac anyone?) and commercial popularity over artistic integrity that informs a lot of music and film journalism.
Kubrick, unlike many of his contemporaries has a very solid body of work. He does not have a lot of films, but he also does not have anything like "Jack", "Episode III", "Prometheus" or "Jurassic Park".
Like Kurosawa and a few other admirable directors, even his popular films did not pander to the box office. He also somehow avoided becoming a parody of himself. (Cough... Scorsese).

July 10, 2014 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Calaverasgrande

Only 13 films? Lazy bastard.

July 7, 2014 at 11:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

I hope this is a joke

July 7, 2014 at 4:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Theo

Yes, it's a joke. I always find it strange when people remark on the volume of an artist's output as being relevant in any respect to their work. When Moses came off Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments did the people say, "What? Only ten? But you were up there for forty days!"

July 7, 2014 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

Actually, i think Mel Brooks revealed that there were actually 15 commandments till Moses dropped one slab.

July 8, 2014 at 10:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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There's also ' Eric Bright Eyes'. It's not as well known as Napoleon or Aryan Papers, but supposedly pretty high up there on Kubrick's list.

July 7, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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typer

October 13, 2017 at 6:55PM

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When folks say how Nolan is the modern day Kubrick, a little part of me dies inside.

July 7, 2014 at 2:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Glasty

I've never heard that, but it would kill me too if I did.

I have been known to compare PT Anderson to Kubrick...

July 7, 2014 at 5:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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atthestudio

The current era of major Hollywood film making is just a little trashy these days and the summer season is the worst ... the US box office is down a little this year but major releases are doing well globally... which is why the tentpoles are here to stay ... yet, quality wise, with a few rare exceptions, most of them are just meh ...

July 8, 2014 at 12:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

There are no filmmakers like Kubrick. There are filmmakers who are accomplished enough or talented enough to approximate a film "by Stanley Kubrick", but none are like the man. I've long maintained that there are things that can cause a scene or a shot to feel like something Kubrick did, but the overriding sensibilities have almost never been similar. In fact, I could only, honestly, compare other works from other people to Kubrick based solely on TONE. If we can agree that the tonal consistencies can be compared objectively then here are the filmmakers whom have come closest in the last twenty years IMHO:
*David Fincher
*Quentin Tarantino
*Spike Jonze
*Zack Snyder
*John McTiernan
*David O. Russell
*Michael Mann
*Amy Heckerling
*Bob Fosse
*Ridley Scott
*Tony Scott
*Jane Campion
*Spike Lee
*Brian DePalma
I could go on, but each of these talented people have had several moments in some of their best and worst movies that IMHO completely felt like a "Kubrick Moment".

July 8, 2014 at 5:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I am remiss to not throw Joel and Ethnan Coen into that list as well...

July 8, 2014 at 5:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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anamorphic74

I am remiss to not throw Joel and Ethan Coen into that list as well...

July 8, 2014 at 5:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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anamorphic74

Also, of course, Paul Thomas Anderson and Baz Luhrmann

July 8, 2014 at 5:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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anamorphic74

I have a view that there are 'Directors' and 'FilmMakers'.

For me anyone can Direct, but to be a Filmmaker you've tackled many genres and your work takes almost a spiritual life of its own.

Kubrick falls squarely into FilmMaker status for me. He tackled multiple genres and in most of them made the definitive film of that subject.

July 11, 2014 at 2:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard Hazeldine

I'm not sure exactly why but this site is loading incredibly slow for me.
Is anyone else having this issue or is it a
issue on my end? I'll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

September 4, 2014 at 12:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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