Last month, in the darkened of auditorium of a thronging Colorado cinema, James Holmes open fired on a crowd of innocent cinema-goers quietly enjoying the latest movie blockbuster of Batman. Killing 12 and injuring 58, it was revealed that Holmes carried out these vicious attacks because he believed himself to be Batman’s enemy, the Joker; his inhuman levels of violence stemming from the exploits of a fictional character.
Yet, in and amongst the grief and outrage at this horrific attack, critics began whispering once again of the intrinsic link between cinema and violence, their memories tearing back to similar moments where the tangible cinema screen has dissolved and the boundary between the audience and the action has blurred with disastrous consequences. The prime example of every such exploration is always A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 adaptation of the dystopian Anthony Burgess novel. Depicting brutal teenage violence and one of the most disturbing character moralities of cinema’s history, A Clockwork Orange very quickly ignited copy-cat attacks as audiences found troubling inspiration in the naïve and twisted protagonist of Alex. Fearing for the film’s damaging model for reality, Kubrick himself was forced to remove the film from the nation’s silver screens, making a copy of the film near impossible to watch for 27 years.
Lambasted by his critics for encouraging brainwashing and desensitisation, the layman’s perception of Stanley Kubrick is most likely limited to this most controversial of his films. However, a real cinematic pioneer whose innovation and creativity still influences much modern cinema, City Screen Cinema York are now beginning a new series of Kubrick’s films to give a very public platform to this most misunderstood and shady of cinema characters.
Stanley Kubrick was born in 1928 in Manhattan. A ‘bookish’ boy throughout his childhood, obsessed from his pre-teenage years with chess, Kubrick was enlightened by the potential of the camera lens age 13 when his father bought him a Graflex camera: a gift that was to begin a life-long love affair with the cinematic, the framed and the scopic. After a series of short films and flops, Kubrick struck film gold, or at least by the critics’ standard, with The Killing, the non-linear narrative of a meticulously planned racetrack robbery gone horribly wrong. Yet, it was with his sparse and raw cinematography in Paths of Glory, a bitter anti-war protest adapted from Humphrey Cobb’s 1935 novel that Kubrick gained commercial fame. However this was also the film that sowed Kubrick’s seeds of rebellion and controversy as the film was banned in France and Germany for its fictionalised depictions of the French military.
From there, the sky was the limit for cinema maverick Kubrick whose often unpopular artistic decisions excited a mixture of shock, horror and admiration from a growing party of interested critics and audiences. The 1960 Spartacus film starring Laurence Olivier in the title role as the historical rebel slave and the 1980 paranormal thriller The Shining then became among his most well-known of masterpieces.
To have the chance to gawp, gasp and marvel at the bad boy of cinema all over again, head to City Screen throughout this month to catch a glimpse of the work of this director, writer, producer and cinematographer who tore up the conventional cinema reel and re-inscribed his very own idiosyncratic mark upon cinema history.