Frederic Raphael reviews a Stanley Kubrick bio
I’ve always been terrified at the prospect of a Stanley Kubrick biography. I think I read Kubrick on Kubrick–nope, didn’t, doesn’t exist. Farrar, Straus and Giroux didn’t make that one happen. There’s On Kubrick, which is kind of the same thing? And then there’s that big Making of 2001 I always meant to read and didn’t.
A third of Raphael’s review isn’t about the book. But apparently the book’s all about Kubrick’s Jewishness. Raphael has some jokes about the absurdities of it. There’s also a part in the book where Abrams apparently says Kubrick didn’t like Raphael’s work (screenwriter of Eyes Wide Shut and author of Eyes Wide Open, maybe the first insider Kubrick book after his death–1999. That one I have and may have even read).
So Kubrick’s been gone nineteen years. There’s been a lot of material released, like the Napoleon archives, which give some insight into his creative process. But there’s still the “Eyes Wide Shut wasn’t how he wanted it” contingent, even though Jan Harlan started saying it was in 1999. And there’s the uncensored version, which doesn’t offer anything except more skin(?), which is all it was ever going to do. And there was A.I., which everyone willfully forgets about.
But there hasn’t really been anything interesting said in the nineteen years since Kubrick died–except, however, Barry Lyndon finally getting its due (I’m still shocked the “director’s cut of The Shining” hasn’t gotten any interest but I think it says something about that movie and its fans). With the length between Kubrick’s films in the second half of his career, it’s also not like there wasn’t time for examination, re-examination, and then another re-examination. And maybe even a discovery and rediscovery.
Abrams’s book, at least from Raphael’s characterization, sounds like printed clickbait. There’s been more than enough clickbait, printed and digital, about Kubrick. The scary part is… no one has listened to any of Kubrick’s collaborators since he died, they’re still not listening to Kubrick’s collaborators… and his collaborators have to be aging (Raphael is 87). Pretty soon the apparently endless Kubrick commentary’s just going to be a bunch of complete bullshit instead of partial bullshit.