Monday, March 29, 2004

Fussy customer. Make sure the tops slide off.

If you've ever wondered on the relationship between the artist and the art, take a look at the this fascinating article on Stanley Kubrick. One of the beauties of Kubrick's work is the exceptional internal consistency and attention to detail that all his movies had. You felt you were really immersed in that world. Well, that immersion didn't just happen accidentally. For a film on Napoleon that was never made he did so much research that he had a room in his mansion devoted just to books and papers on Napoleon - plus 25,000 notecards of facts. His assistant said: "If you want to know what Napoleon, or Josephine, or anyone within Napoleon's inner circle was doing on the afternoon of July 23 17-whatever, you go to that card and it'll tell you."

He also really didn't much care what YOU thought, what really mattered was what HE learned and could put up on the screen in movies where he controlled everything from the script to where the movies were playing. And of course he didn't suffer fools:

A 1975 telex, from a picture publicity man at Warner Bros called Mark Kauffman, regards publicity stills for Kubrick's sombre reworking of Thackeray's Barry Lyndon. It reads: "Received additional material. Is there any material with humour or zaniness that you could send?"

Kubrick replies, clearly through gritted teeth: "The style of the picture is reflected by the stills you have already received. The film is based on William Makepeace Thackeray's novel which, though it has irony and wit, could not be well described as zany."
One shouldn't lament the fact that he made so few movies, rather one should rejoice that with dealing with idiots like Mark Kauffman along with his obsessive nature that the masterpieces came out at all.

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