The taste machine named Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick was one of the greatest film directors ever. If you love his films, you might want to see the exquisite exhibition at the Cinémathèque Française: it’s a real odyssey through a unique body of work.

Each film a milestone

"The best education in film”, Stanley Kubrick used to say, “is to make one”. He himself didn’t make a hell of lot of them, only 13, but each one is, if not a masterpiece, at least a milestone of 20th century cinema. You remember 2001, A Space Odyssey, Barry Lindon, A Clockwork Orange, Shining? Here we go: there are not a lot of film makers who ventured in different genres, always trying to renew or to subvert them.

War and horror

There are his war films (Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket), there is science-fiction (2001, A Space Odyssey), even horror (The Shining), but there are political fables, too, like Dr Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange, even the costume film Barry Lyndon, the tragic love story Lolita, and the detective story The Killing. His last film Eyes Wide Shut was probably even more degenerate but it revealed his most intimate work and evaded all the categories. The Kubrick exhibition which has already been shown in Frankfurt, Berlin, Zurich, Gand, Rome, and Melbourne before coming to Paris, offers the opportunity to go backstage: Kubrick’s archives, photos, notes, scenarios, correspondence and various research documents are spread over 10,000 square feet, exploring each of his films in chronological order.

Make the right decisions

Imagine with the documents the original costumes, accessories and screenings alongside – and you will understand a lot about this extremely intellectual, unique man and his way of seeing and creating. For Kubrick a director was "a kind of taste machine" and a movie "a series of creative and technical decisions": "It's the directors job to make the right decisions as frequently as possible." Kubrick’s films have often been groundbreaking, controversial - and misunderstood. Above all, he was criticized for the aestheticised depiction of sex and violence in his films. Visiting the exhibition, you’ll understand that his work is not and has never been about provocation, it’s about human nature. “I don’t see the character in the story in terms of good or evil”, he once said, “but in terms of good and evil”.

Duality of man

Remember the scene in Full Metal Jacket? A marine is wearing a peace button and the colonel asks him why, suspecting him being against the war. The marine answers that he is not against war. He says: “Well, Sir, I suppose I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man.” When I said this exhibition offers the opportunity to go backstage, I meant it in a double sense: you not only discover the machine behind Kubrick’s films and understand his technical inventions, but you get the impression of meeting the man behind the oeuvre.

Strange, troubling directions

Martin Scorsese once said that Kubrick “expanded our idea of what is possible in movies. And I believe that in so doing, he actually expanded our consciousness of ourselves – the cruelties of which we’re capable, the longing we feel for something unnamable, the forces that compel us to move in strange, troubling directions. (…) Kubrick was an artist of real vision, in every sense of that overused word, and this exhibit is a fitting tribute.” Stanley Kubrick: L'exposition - UNTIL 31st OF JULY 2011
Cinémathèque Française
51, rue de Bercy
75012 Paris
Tél: +33 (0)1 71 19 33 33
Métro: Bercy or 
Open everyday except Tuesdays (and 1st of May) from 12 am - 7 pm. On Tuesdays until 8 pm, on Thursdays until 10 pm
Stanley Kubrick at the set of "2001: A Space Odyssey"