Stanley Kubrick is a director as diverse as he is famous.
Creating classics like "The Shining," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange," during his time in the filmmaking spotlight Kubrick amassed one of the most expansive collections of films of any director to date. Kubrick's signature trademarks like slow, drawn-out scenes, disregard for traditional rules to create emotion in the viewer, masterful use of lighting techniques and stirring, intense themes showcase his directorial prowess and make him a filmmaker that is impossible for any cinephile to overlook.
Here are four Kubrick masterpieces that illustrate the varied and brilliant nature of the works of this filmic genius.
"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968)
A prime example of Kubrick's signature theme of man v. technology, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is infamous, unsettling, and often just plain confusing. Beginning with the rising of a foreign-seeming sun and ending with a floating, giant fetus, this bizarre film leaves the viewer feeling isolated and baffled. However, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is a must-watch, if for nothing else than its sweeping score, commentary on evolution and technology and creative — or insane —method of conveying a story that spans millions of years. This quintessential Kubrick film is 149 minutes of eerie space sequences that are a stunning and bewildering picture of the director's unique way of presenting one version of the past, present and a possible future.
"Barry Lyndon" (1975)
One of the most well-made literary adaptations and period pieces in film history, "Barry Lyndon" is often overlooked in the Kubrick canon. The film is beautiful and stirring, with gorgeous mid-19th century costumes and mise-en-scène, ethereal cinematography and a romantic score. A little on the long side, Kubrick may bore some viewers with painstakingly long scenes and slower pacing, but rewards them with well-crafted drama that exceeds the talent seen in many period films. Telling the story of the rakish Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal), who becomes Barry Lyndon after he seduces the beautiful Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), the film captures perfectly the 1800's European upper-class and also provides viewers with classic duel scenes, drama and decadent aristocracy onscreen.
"The Shining" (1980)
An obvious choice for any student of Kubrick's work, "The Shining" is perhaps Kubrick's most well-known film. Featuring the perfectly unsettling talent of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duval and the excellent then-child actor Danny Lloyd, this classic manages to scare the audience yet still bring quality filmmaking to the horror genre. The film is an excellent example of utilizing cinematography, characterizations, under-lighting and spatial symbolism to convey creepy supernatural happenings. "The Shining" is a film student's dream but will also provide a night of entertainment for any classic film-lover or thrill-seeker with its old-fashioned suspense and style.
"Eyes Wide Shut" (1999)
"Eyes Wide Shut" is not only Kubrick's final work before his death in 1999, but is also perhaps his most scandalous. One of the most sexually explicit films of all time, "Eyes Wide Shut" centers around physician William Hartford (Tom Cruise) who ventures into uncharted, sinister sexual territory after he learns of the sexual fantasies of his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman). Due to Kubrick's untimely death during the editing stages of the film, some argue that the digital, toned-down editing of the film strays from Kubrick's style and makes "Eyes Wide Shut" a movie that Kubrick would not have created. The film is most notable for its overwhelming aura of deep mystery and its provocative illustration of the realities of living a double-life, as well as its frightening and famous portrayal of a cultish orgy. The film's mood trumps its substance and provides the viewer with an intense study of the human psyche and sexuality.