Author Topic: the shining turned 30 today.  (Read 4521 times)

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Pubrick

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the shining turned 30 today.
« on: May 23, 2010, 11:27:27 PM »
+1
so let's take a moment to think that 30 years ago this film was being misunderstood all over the world. i don't know how kubrick did it. was he EVER understood? the balls of the man don't seem as big now that we see that he was a genius. but imagine releasing one masterpiece after another, and then in 1980 probably the greatest film in cinema up to that point.. and getting a RAZZIE nomination for it.

looking just at the oscars as a sign of critical/industry acceptance.. every film he had made since Spartacus had received at least SOME recognition from the academy. i'm under no illusion about the oscars of course, which is why i'm using them precisely as an indication of some kind of merger of popular critical opinion or at least contemporary respect. looking at their track record you might even say there was always some small vocal movement trying hard to recognize kubrick's films for SOMETHING each year, anything, even if they snubbed him with the eventual prize.

if we look at the award recognition received by kubrick films at the oscars (nominations only) we can trace a fairly simple narrative. Spartacus was recognized for technical merit - kubrick got no love cos no one really thought he was that amazing, he was almost a RATNER, he was a hired hand, spartacus was kubrick's X-men 3.. and it was a huge box office smash. the technical awards are typical for blockbusters even to this day, kubrick cashed in and got financial security for the rest of his life. need we look for evidence of this beyond what happened next?

he took on Lolita at a time was preparing One Eyed Jacks with marlon brando. he was doing another one for the money, teaming with a big star in what eventually became Brando's only directing vehicle.. obviously kubrick was not that invested in the project, as he left as soon as the rights became available for lolita. Lols got a screenplay adaptation nomination. this signified a recognition from the academy and the industry at large that he was being recognised for his artistic effort but with some trepidation.. the film was controversial despite being pretty well tame these days.. it would hav been apparent at the time that kubrick was pulling a Soderbergh, doing one for himself after doing one for "them".

Strangelove got nominations across the board. Picture/director/writing/actor. financially or otherwise, the film was well received. kubrick at this point was a commercial/critical darling, this stayed pretty much the norm until Clork. in the interim, 2001 (or 2OO1 as Mr. Blackmirror calls it), once again received significant artistic recognition as well as technical merit in the form of the special effects award. but at this point -- right at the time that somewhere in NYC  a young martin scorsese was realising that Kubrick was "the one" -- it would have been foolish to think that kubrick and the mainstream critical/popular world were in any way in sync, even though Strangelove got nominated for the major awards. it didn't win any, but this could not be thought of as a major crime against decency because it wasn't yet clear that kubrick was the one. after 2OO1, when he was snubbed for Oliver, it was quite obviously the beginning of the end for kubrick's time in the sun.

Clockwork orange was his last major box office success. the film was among the highest grossing warner bros films released in the same year the french connection was breaking all kinds of records. but the reaction to kubrick's film at the time indicates exactly what had been breeding all along. a layer of misreading, and undercurrent of misunderstanding, had developed to the point that kubrick's very own work reacted violently AGAINST him. at the point when the film inspired the copycat murders, resulting in kubricks renunciation of the film and the retreival from circulation in england, kubrick had met the end of his time in the sun. but this was no surprise.. we can see now (as it would have been clear to kubrick then) that his success had been completely unrelated to his meaning. he had been getting away with genius films that no one not even the critics or the intelligentsia understood at the time. 2OO1 was a cultural milestone due to fortunate timing, which ironically (and this really is ironic) resulted in the biggest fans of the film being the LEAST capable of understanding its genius -- drug fucked idiots. ppl thought the film was a trip out and who can blame them, it was sold like that.

the way the films were sold never really bothered kubrick as he was clearly making genre films with a twist. the twist was that these were the very best genre films ever created. but with the ultra violent Clork kubrick met huge success at the expense of appealing to absolute IDIOTS who clearly had no idea what the film was about. he felt he missed the mark and this kind of feeling, that he was JUST NOT GETTING IT RIGHT is clearly evidenced in his next film. Barry Lyndon is the work of an absolute master. everything about the film is perfect both as a period piece and as a comment on that point of kubrick's career.. for a film that deals with the serendpities of life, luck, fate, and the seemingly inevitable decay of wealth/health/fortune -- nothing is actually left to chance. the meticulous technicality of the film was rewarded by the academy and it won a bunch of costume, design, cinematography awards. but that was it., kubrick was nominated for director but he was already out of the inner circle. the trajectory of kubricks career at this point is traced perfectly by the downward turning point in Barry Lyndon itself, the moment in Barry Lyndon's life that marks the beginning of the end of his own life at the top -- the beating of Lord Bullingdon and the ensuing shame is absolutely the position kubrick was in with this film. kubrick was acknowledged out of polite respect but never again would he get anyone's real attention.

The Shining finds itself at exactly this point. it makes perfect sense that the film got no oscar recognition and at the time was thought of as a piece of shit. why? because the same things that were the basis for everyone's judgment then are the basis for judgment now. ppl are judged on their last picture, but also on the critical and popular appeal of their current work. The Shining was clearly a smart choice for kubrick cos he latched onto the hot name Stephen King, but remember that at the time it may have seemed to the public that this is the work of someone who is coming off his biggest financial failure.. someone who was not that great to begin with, this is the FALSE narrative ppl were believing about kubrick in 1980. the REAL narrative as we know it today is that here was a broken man, artistically unable to get any recognition that what he was putting out there was at all that great. sure he had his fans but no one really realising that he was making the best film ever made EVERY SINGLE TIME.. so in that regard, as well as the ones i've mentioned, being ousted from society pretty much (including a self imposed distancing from the press which is easy to undestand under all this context) no one knew the real kubrick.

so The Shining is a lot of things, but the one thing i want to mention here is that in the same way that barry lyndon played parallel to his own TRUE life narrative so did The Shining comment on what was going on at the time. the film as we know has the facade of a genre film, with the usual scares and the generic devices that on the surface seem almost ineffective and flat. but that's the film's FALSE narrative. the truth is of course the million upon thousands of underlying tricks and hidden stories. it can no longer be contested that the film is at one level a comment on the american massacre of the indians but to say that's all it is cheapens it like any other film that is watered down to a single message, it's also about a new cinematic language, it's also a response to 2OO1, and many more things, it's a million things that for the purposes of this appraisal need not be fleshed out -- that would take countless other massive threads.

so to be clear: the film structurally is about an isolated individual who undergoes a different narrative to the rest of his family. the world at large is unaware and unsympathetic to this individuals inner turmoil, it is shown disjointed in physical isolation but also in temporal events, what happens to one person cannot be replicated for another, and the entire world is shown in different states of being (the seemingly normal weather report). the connection and experience the man in the giant castle has with the world around him, which he channels to an undecipherable tome that seems UTTERLY SIMPLISTIC is unreachable from the perspective of his contemporaries (wife, ullman) around him who can only react in the most basic ways -- with fear, boredom, a blase attitude.

kubrick's films were personal in a way that no one has ever really tried to elucidate. he wasn't merely imbuing his films with direct parallels to his own life, that would have been stagnant and unproductive. he was pushing forward with his own agenda while being accutely aware that no ever really knew what his agenda was. he was not being mercurial for the sake of mystery, he was being honest and deeply truthful in a way that left other less secure perspectives behind. a kubrick film can feel immensely unsatisfying on first viewing because the undeniable weight of truth and meaning that is present in every element becomes almost unbearable.

full metal jacket received a nomination for adapted screenplay and nothing more. that was the end of kubrick's association with the greater world of popular cinema and general critical appraisal. it was left to academics and other filmmakers to try desperately to catch up to the man they recognized as a trailblazer. after the shining this became incredibly difficult as it requires personal conviction on a level not present in general movie consumption or in critics with too much on their plate to follow the single vision of a man who was always light years ahead of anyone else.

the DW Griffith award he received from the Directors Guild of America while he was making EWS gave kubrick a rare opportunity to speak directly to what may well have been a room full of the ONLY ppl who have ever continued to champion his efforts. the anecdotes he chooses to say repeatedly appeal to an unspoken understanding, it's made clear in the opening story about Spielberg saying what kubrick is certain that everyone will recognize, that the hardest part of making a film is "getting out of the car". but the rest of the speech is a biography of DW Griffith.. kubrick takes the lifetime achievement award as an oppotunity to undermine the very ideal of the ceremony itself. he recounts the rise and fall of Griffith, paying special attention to his critical and commercial success, noting that at one point he was greater and more famous at his time than anyone in THIS ROOM is TODAY, and that the man died in obscurity after being "shunned by the industry he had created". he is once again showing the TRUE narrative behind the FALSE facade, as well as retelling a story that is somewhat reminiscent of his own place in cinema.

the idea of the story behind the story is paramount to understanding kubrick. the truth behind what we THINK is true. when jack says in A Life in Pictures that what kubrick was interested in the shining was "a photograph of the photograph" he might as well be referring to ending of the film itself. in the final shot we are literally shown a photograph that we instinctly recognize as existing "behind" the images we have been watching, a picture from the past that reveals an underlying truth that reconfigurates the facade of everything the film has presented.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

polkablues

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the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2010, 01:46:52 AM »
0
More great stuff, as usual. I have no idea why "2OO1" makes me laugh out loud, but it does.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Pubrick

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2010, 08:22:27 AM »
0
i know i made it too long, but if anyone reads it i have more to say on the parallels between kubrick and DW Griffith, the place of the shining in capping a career of technical innovation, as well as a fresh attempt at explaining the similarities between FMJ and EWS.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

Alexandro

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2010, 09:03:52 AM »
0
as a way to celebrate, I played The Shining yesterday in a 2x3.5meters screen (aprox) and watched the whole blu ray in the 144 minute cut I had never seen before. I don't know how it was for you guys before, but up until this point I have been owning a shining dvd that runs 120 minutes and that's the cut I love. Maybe I'm just used to it. The longer cut feels like a work in progress compared to the cut I own, which basically just gets rid of a lot of repetitive scenes and not too well acted parts between shelley and the kid. However, watching it on the "big screen" and on widescreen for the first time was AMAZING.

P that is awesome.

Fernando

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2010, 02:16:27 PM »
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i know i made it too long, but if anyone reads it i have more to say on the parallels between kubrick and DW Griffith, the place of the shining in capping a career of technical innovation, as well as a fresh attempt at explaining the similarities between FMJ and EWS.

not long enough, im in to read more about it.


funny that scorsese since dr. strangelove sensed he could be the one and with 2OO1 he was certain of that, and spielberg while he was clearly a fan doubted him with the shining, thinking jack's performance was so over the top, then of course he realized it was another home run from the master.

pete

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2010, 07:35:48 PM »
0
I've never seen that movie, but the other day I was teaching a class with a bunch of teenagers - we were doing a trick shot that made it look like 2 12-year old kids were throwing knives into the chests of a bunch of older teens.  one of the girls was really interested in the camerawork and was asking me about the point of view shots and I told her point of view didn't necessarily have to be first person then I showed her all those tricycle shots from the shining.  she was young but she got it.
that's my contribution to this great topic and this great movie.  sorry everyone.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2010, 11:39:26 PM »
0
I don't know, I'm not sure I see the point of this article. Lots of filmmakers had time in the sun where there were films were accepted by the majority (even if under false pretenses) and continued to distance themselves from easy understanding as their careers developed. It's pretty standard since cinema wants the best of both worlds in being mass entertainment and a refined art. The contradiction allows for a lot of popcorn critics to define things on simplistic levels, but that is always going to be the relationship many filmmakers feel they have with the majority. I have even seen Spielberg feel outcast to ideas he intended to get across because mass movement wanted to say something else about a film of his.

2001 was a heyday for Kubrick in some ways, but it also wasn't. Even though it got Oscar nominations, I remember Kubrick and the film itself weren't yet very welcomed by the World Cinema community. For the most part, critics (who were protectors of art cinema and would promote filmmakers they believed in) didn't like the film and Andrei Tarkovsky made Solaris in protest over 2001. In the 1970s, Fellini complained about the way in which Kubrick was able to take his time with every film and focus on the pre-production and post-production with a lot of time when Fellini was worrying about where his next project would come from. I think it took a lot of time for other filmmakers to accept his situation and welcome his films like he was another filmmaker like them, but accepted he became in mass quantities later on.



About the Shining, it's certainly the most simplistic and unconvincing of his later films. As far as I define the narrative, the narrative with Jack is mainly defined in the small contradictions within the production story of how he will rip a paper from the type writer and a paper will still be there a shot later. The film is famous for those little details which is meant to show that another presence lingers beyond him, but the look and tone of the film does not make you want to look past the text of the story the way Eyes Wide Shut does. That film is very obviously a dream landscape and you become memorized by those smaller details, but I don't think one becomes too invested in The Shining at all. It's a pretty natural landscape.

I think the mindset fixation is in the constant repetition of patterns everywhere and how that tonally becomes jarring as Jack starts to fall into madness and his motions become simplified to actions of someone possessed and demonic. If anything, the film destroys conventional storytelling (there are no three dimensional characters) and you start to see characters for their simplistic actions and reflexes. Since the structure of the story is about their everyday habits with small actions repeated all the time, it is about how their patterns change and it is about how the film reacts to those patterns. I think the one credit the film does for itself is when Jack has gone over the edge and intends to kill his family, the camera is still following all the characters the same way it did when things were normal. The reason is because the film is a study of the destruction of their habits and basic emotional strands. Shelley Duvall does fine because she shows an unnerved quality at the beginning. She seems unsteady from the outset and there is an emotional trigger with Jack in how she acts. It how that emotional trigger becomes grotesque later on because of the influence of ghosts and other elements.

For me, the most interesting narrative strand in the film is how Shelley Duvall's character becomes invested by The Shining and ghost world herself. Since Jack is constantly dealing with elements both seen and unseen by the audience (at least, he seems to be hearing murmurs either in his sleep or elsewhere) and how Daniel has the Shining and pockets it in his small world. We're only aware of his abilities with them occasionally, but it is Duvall who begins to experience visions of streaming blood and humans dressed as animals and supposedly mating with people in rooms. She is seeing some things that the audience begins to see in the beginning, but she is seeing them at a heightened reality and a rapid sense of occurring. They do not make sense to her at all, but what it implicates is that the ghost world is starting to push itself onto her and re-define her reality. The only reason she does not understand is because the situation is not yet a nightmare, but it's in the process of becoming a full nightmare. If everything the ghosts did was understandable then it would not be another reality, but that reality will be fully crossed when everyone has been murdered. She is fighting the oncoming collapse of her sense and is trying to escape the Hotel by doing so.

That's my best idea for why the story shifts the way it does. While it is admirable, I think Kubrick is too simplistic with the edits to include the nightmare elements. They bleed into the story in a slow manner and very little actually happens. When the blood is roaring down the hallway, it is just a 5 second shot of blood moving some way and going straight into camera. The sequence is slowed down for effect, but it's a muted display of grotesqueness. It isn't chilling to me or overwhelming. Other scare scenes come off to me as muted and short on effects as well. They need to slam the screen with higher impact because they are break ups of the action and meant to impair the senses of the viewer. The film isn't a mood horror film where things slowly creep in and make everything more scary. The hallways in the hotel are still everyday hallways. It isn't about things periodically change, but about how a different reality could be oncoming. When she runs away, what she sees is back to normal. The other reality is in the distance of time. I just wish that other reality was a little more impressive.

Alexandro

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2010, 09:31:02 AM »
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maybe GT, but not most of filmmakers end up being considered by a wide portion of the filmworld as "the one". this is something we can debate on a personal level but it is a reality that kubrick is considered to be one of the best four or five filmmakers in history by audiences, critics and filmmakers alike, wether you agree with that status or not (I know you don't, but you also know that you are part of a very selected minority on that one). it is also true that he released films and got increasingly bad reviews for movies that ten years later all have managed to be considered masterpieces. so yeah, even someone like spielberg already had his place in the sun and now suffers (munich is a fine film and some people talk about it as if they were watching rush hour 2) but he is not now and never will be in the position kubrick created for himself.

OrHowILearnedTo

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2010, 11:55:33 AM »
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I dig what you're saying P, but I cannot stand those nicknames you create for movies.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2010, 10:01:11 PM »
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maybe GT, but not most of filmmakers end up being considered by a wide portion of the filmworld as "the one". this is something we can debate on a personal level but it is a reality that kubrick is considered to be one of the best four or five filmmakers in history by audiences, critics and filmmakers alike, wether you agree with that status or not (I know you don't, but you also know that you are part of a very selected minority on that one). it is also true that he released films and got increasingly bad reviews for movies that ten years later all have managed to be considered masterpieces. so yeah, even someone like spielberg already had his place in the sun and now suffers (munich is a fine film and some people talk about it as if they were watching rush hour 2) but he is not now and never will be in the position kubrick created for himself.

Well, I disagree with your premise. I don't think it is assumed by most people, critics and filmmakers that Kubrick is in the top four or five of greatest filmmakers ever. There is a good faction of people who believe it, but it isn't a clear majority. Kubrick still doesn't highlight greatest film lists the way other films or filmmakers do. He isn't a staple of Sight and Sound or other major institutions. He is certainly highly respected and in the discussion with lots of other filmmakers, but he doesn't have a Hitchcock iconoclast identity yet. Things still have to happen to his films for it to reach a lauded point.

Still, Spielberg is just one example. There are lots of other major filmmakers who were unappreciated in their times or were appreciated on smaller levels than what history would grant them later. I can name many filmmakers who are a lot greater than Spielberg who have felt that. Actually, I think it would be a lot harder to name filmmakers who were like George Washington's of film and were granted both a legacy, respect and critical appreciation during their working lifetimes. Federico Fellini was a legend before he died, but every film he made was done so with great cost and hardship and came with a lot of critical flack along with some appreciation. By definition, history is always going to really define a filmmaker's legacy. There will always be hardships in getting the films made and expecting the entire world to accept them right away. It is how things works.

Edit: Here is a blog by Jim Emerson that highlights 49 years of the NY Times reviewing Godard films and getting many things about Godard just wrong and holding Godard as the one to ultimately blame. It's a great blog post and was done because Godard's latest film has met hell from critics everywhere but Emerson wants to highlight how that Godard's reception has always been with some circles. As far as Emerson is concerned, understanding didn't happen until Notre Musique in 2004.
http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/2010/05/everything_we_know_about_godar.html

Pubrick

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2010, 07:37:06 AM »
+2
I don't know, I'm not sure I see the point of this article.

i was just having fun.

you wouldn't understand.

as a way to celebrate, I played The Shining yesterday in a 2x3.5meters screen (aprox) and watched the whole blu ray in the 144 minute cut I had never seen before. I don't know how it was for you guys before, but up until this point I have been owning a shining dvd that runs 120 minutes and that's the cut I love. Maybe I'm just used to it. The longer cut feels like a work in progress compared to the cut I own, which basically just gets rid of a lot of repetitive scenes and not too well acted parts between shelley and the kid. However, watching it on the "big screen" and on widescreen for the first time was AMAZING.

i've never seen the shining on quality better than normal dvd, and that includes the one time i saw it on a big screen (10metres at least) it was still projected from peasant dvd so it looked pixelated as fuck! the coincidence here is that it was also the first time i saw the AMERICAN version of the film, meaning the long cut.

a review of the long cut is in order but not in this thread unfortunately. instead i'd like to just expand on some thoughts i left out of the above monstrosity:

starting with the references to DW in his speech: i hope i've established that these were not just topical, he wasn't just talking about DW cos the award is named after him.. even tho in the end the speech looks just like any other speech. the way it plays out to the general audience is as typical as the general public had grown to perceive his films, it's nothing special, it's a speech.. it's an old man talking about another old man. kubrick excelled at using existing material to work into his own agenda. the trademarks of his recurring themes is the only sign we get that things have been tampered with. it is too apparent that the themes he discusses in his speech are the precise themes he has been developing since 2OO1, even his methods are the same. my point here is that kubrick never changed after a certain point in his quest to perfect a certain idea. the idea of DW as a man in exilse is also too reminiscent of the other case of a man whose rise and fall and death in obscurity was of endless fascination to Kubrick. Napoleon, a film he started preparing after 2OO1 and which by all accounts he just couldn't let go of.

what was it that he saw in Napoleon? that a man of immense intelligence, power, and ambition could still fall the same way a lowlife like Barry Lyndon did? perhaps, but the story is much more than that. i'd like to attempt a connection between kubrick's subjects and his own personal meditations.. kubrick himself experienced a massive blow to his trajectory when he was unable to make the film on the great emperor. this loss of a great golden future is amazingly paralleled in the very opening scene of Barry Lyndon which serves to introduce the backstory of barry's dad but could also play as an overture for why the film exists in the first place. the film opens with barry's dad in extreme long shot in the far distant background,  the narration explains that he would have been a great lawyer or something if he hadn't died in a duel over a small dispute, which we see play out simultaneously with narration.. this moment is special in the film because it seems to be one of the only times (if not THE only time) that the narration is in perfect sync with the action. the person drops dead and then we are told it was barry's father.

this feeling of loss that is captured in this opening scene is of course carried through the entire film, to the final narration which only shows that barry ultimately repeated the actions of his own father -- having a small dispute escalate to a life changing/ending outcome.  the opening of Barry Lyndon plays out as the last chance we really have to be emotionally invested in the action in real time. this event masquerades as backstory when really it is a premonition of the inevitable fall of the main character. the reason kubrick was not able to make his napoleon film was of course a matter of money, a seemingly small dispute in the grand scheme of things considering the golden rewards an alternative history could have accomplished. it becomes almost unbearably ironic (again real irony) that the film that ended kubrick's chances to make napoleon was titled waterloo, dealing with the emperor's downfall.. that film was actually kubrick's waterloo in which he was not even able to participate.

to address GT for a moment, there IS something special in this story, the fact that it happens to everyone -- not just filmmakers but anyone at all -- is precisely the point. by saying that something is not important because it happens to everyone is to take patterns for granted. to make cliche of everything, to accept a facade of recurring events as the reality when the interesting part of everything is the REASON why this is all recurring.. but anyway, back to having fun..

Narrator: Utterly baffled and beaten, what was the lonely and broken-hearted man to do? He took the annuity and returned to Ireland with his mother to complete his recovery. Sometime later he travelled to the Continent. His life there, we have not the means of following accurately. But he appears to have resumed his former profession of a gambler without his former success. He never saw Lady Lyndon again.

kubrick, in all his precision, deals grandly with approximations. especially in the beginning and the end of his films, he paints with broad strokes which nevertheless encompass all of his themes and ambitions. the exile referred to in lyndon's final lines has many connections to the things i've been talking about, not least of which the opening scene of course but also has a clear parallel to napoleon in St Helena. recall too that DW's exile was a matter of expulsion from the world he conquered. this is carried again and again by kubrick throughout his films until his death. the shining is a film told in exile, ABOUT exile, FMJ shows a single person (Pyle) driven to INTERNAL exile which plays in parallel to Joker's external exile to vietnam, and eventually an exile from himself completely -- the liberation at the end of FMJ is almost a return to what we'd call some kind of optimism for kubrick. while EWS played with a man exiled from his marital paradise and into an odyssey that led him back to his wife but supposedly with the new knowledge that he is awake -- he is exiled from the dream and into reality.

now recall his DGA speech once again, where kubrick talks about the typical reading of the icarus myth, where again he presents the false narrative and offers his interpretation of the TRUE narrative. that it is not a cautionary tale about flying too close to the sun, but rather ALSO an inspirational tale about the need to build better wings. this is interesting the way he tells it. he talks about DW's life as both an inspiration and a cautionary tale. this is EXACTLY the way to describe 2OO1, it is an inspiration but also a cautionary tale. with 2OO1 kubrick made his last great optimistic film, clork was almost a plateau in that it is cautionary tale, definitely, but the inspiration it finds is not entirely soaring. the event that gave him the insight to see the true narrative of the icarus myth occurred after 2OO1 but before barry lyndon.

after 2OO1 kubrick had successfully conquered and reconfigured the landscape of cinema, he had all but predicted the future -- not the immediate future but the infinite future, the ultimate triumph of spirit over the thresholds of the physical universe. the starchild was to be the pinnacle of kubrick's optimism. as i've stated elsewhere, strangelove, 2OO1, and clork were his "future" trilogy. the first film took a light look at the politics, concerns, and rules of the day and extended them only slightly to an absurd and imminent end. the second took the dreams of a generation and showed intellect overcoming all. the third, however, was kubrick following the trend he had been establishing -- but in this case he was overstaying his welcome. kubrick knew that clork was a misfire for many reasons, not least of which the murders (which is also a HUGE theme in his work and subject for another thread). lyndon played as a renunciation of everything clork stood for, where ACO was about free will, Lyndon denied it completely.. where ACO was WAYYYYYYYY off when it came to the look of the future, Lyndon was unbelievably perfect in its aesthetic integrity. there was a decided flip in kubrick's entire approach to cinema here. he never again dealt with sci-fi, he never again dealt with the future. ALL his films after 2OO1/ACO are set in the past or the present, never beyond.

so i am going to say this, the reaction his films show after 2OO1/ACO was a reaction against his OWN false narrative. we can see his change of interest indicating that the real story is not the conquering but the loss. 2OO1/ACO was so clearly triumphant, they were a march forward, their protagonists achieved a personal redemption (albeit through acts of self sacrifice - bowmans disembodiment and alex's suicide attempt). the pair of films that followed were strongly about men who are themselves throroughly conquered. Lyndon/Shining are devoid of optimism and in a way devoid of progress. in these two films kubrick is stuck in exile. the subjects they deal with do not advance, they seem stuck eternally in one position. the statues of barry lyndon, the rigid postures, the still frame closing the film, is followed directly in the shining by the frozen image of jack in ice and the frozen image of time in the final photograph. if kubrick had turned from the optimistic false narrative of 2OO1, was he at a loss as to how to move forward in a world without any progress? if he followed his own wisdom, imparted in his DGA speech, shouldn't he have learned from his fall, built better wings, and tried once again embark on his quest for the sun? why did his films not return to the same level of optimism?

indeed, as i've established, they seemed to turn in the complete opposite direction! which reveals another false narrative: should his DGA story be taken to simply mean "pick yourself up and try again"? not at all, we would be stupid to not see that even his own speech had a false narrative. the false narrative of his speech is centred on one detail in the icarus myth which is taken for granted -- that is the assumption that everyone would understand what it means to fly too close to the sun, that everyone knows what the sun actually refers to. that everyone knows the direction of the sun. it wasn't 2OO1 or ACO that caused his wings to burn, he obviously reached those points with great ease. the point he was NOT able to reach was Napoleon, the greatest movie never made. but this doesn't mean that he didn't constantly strive (and i would argue repeatedly get closer than anyone else in history) to reach the sun. whatever it was that kubrick was moving towards, it was something beyond 2OO1/ACO, and we can trace its outline from the films that came after them.. we can even see that all his following films were in one way or another fragments of Napoleon.

if what he was moving towards with his last four films is to be taken as the direction of the sun, the direction of illumination, of the GREATEST illumination, of an illumination so great that it leaves nothing in darkness, so great that it is BLINDING.. then how was he making better wings? the obvious answer might be the technical advances he made in Barry Lyndon and The Shining. in this pair of films kubrick shows complete devotion to technical perfection on a level never seen before: barry lyndon's groundbreaking use of natural light and the shining's definitive use of the steadicam. but this actually ignores the greater advance he made in those films, his dogged attempt to undermine any kind of natural story structure. the spoiler-narrator in Lyndon destroyed any chance the film had of being a straightforward narrative, the whole film plays in the past to us, it undermines the superficially experienced forward-moving narrative to strive for a greater truth in TRUE narrative, the creation of something that isn't yet taken for granted. the shining did much the same but with even greater skill, the steadicam shots create the illusion of continuous fluid movement in space and time in a place that has no steady ground in either dimension. a hotel where the walls are always shifting, where hallways lead to nowhere, where time itself is not stable. so was this what he meant by better wings? to perfect the medium in a technical sense in search of the sun which was to be variations on a theme of exile/loss/being conquered?

no, between the shining and FMJ there is another turning point which illuminates his entire career. his abandonment of new technical discoveries in FMJ and EWS is again seen by haters as a sign that he wasn't that great, since he stopped doing the one thing he was good at, the one thing he was known for. but where one aspect of his filmmaking superficially stagnated, another developed in unexpected ways. the technical consistency of his films post-Shining are a false narrative that hides the huge, HUGE leaps he took in his cinematic language. Lyndon and the shining were his mediations on exile without redemption, they were concerned with opportunities lost, time past, irreversible events that had no chance of a do-over only a turn-over in the mind. they played sort of like a commander who has lost a battle going over the defeat in his mind again and again. the parallel with napoleon is useful once again, Lyndon and the shining are the tale of kubrick's waterloo, but with FMJ and EWs he progressed to the next stage of napoleon's life, the writing of his own legend.

the pattern i want to stress is that for kubrick the idea of defeat is not defeat at all. to be conquered and to lose, to be defeated, to be helpless against time, deterioration of health, power, that was the natural state of things. so when we see his abandonment of technical advancement it is NOT a surrender in the sense we are all used to. i've said before, kubrick's venture into darkness was not a retreat but a mission to discover new light.. real light, the kind that survives in the deepest darkest corners. the kind of light you find where you would only expect darkness.. uncovering layer upon layer of false narrative from humanity itself was always kubrick's preoccupation. Lyndon and The shining were at once immensely personal as they recounted his own exile but at the same time completely selfless as he didn't seek his own redemption in these films, he concerned himself with possibility of no redemption at all. and in the process of surrendering himself to this idea, he discovered something as valuable as the venture was risky. with Full Metal Jacket we can return to the idea of napoleon, it is kubrick's treatment on war, a kind of summary of his lessons learned on the field, a review of the rules, the outcomes and the real nature of the phenomenon. vietnam is perfect subject matter as it represents the perfect war for kubrick, one that is doomed to fail and one that was fought purely on the basis conquering an idea. it's as if in his permanent island of exile, in his st helena, writing his memoirs, he is perfecting the communication of ideas as pure meaning -- isolation and disconnection was to be overcome through meaningful correspondence, the message that was impossible for Jack Torrance to understand.

FMJ shows private joker as the writer,. he's a warrior and a writer. his story is told in the form of a memoir, but the point of the story is eventually to dissolve this individual into the greater being.. he is saved by becoming a war machine, an animal, in much the same way that private pyle is consumed by the marine credo. the relation to napoleon, barry lyndon, and kubrick at this point is that he has become the embodiment of exile.. "i am become death", a world of shit, the external and the internal are physically one. the abandonment of technical advancement can now be addressed as the recognition of the inability of pure physicality to capture the idea. instead the physical world has GIVEN WAY to the idea. his ideas no longer required a physical representation, they existed outside of him in a way that people's legends grow around them, and so the film is constructed as a perfectly taut mental puzzle with much the same rules as the shining. it requires one to learn the rules of his technical game, just as the troops are taught the ropes in the first half of the film and then to learn the true value of these rules.. that they are only a facade, the truth is in the union of ideas.. the value of the physical against the value of the internal. if he could have communicated his ideas telepathically he would. what kubrick was concerned with in FMJ was really the end of cinema, the end of western civilization, and really the end of history. this is effectively what he accomplished in Full Metal Jacket, whose overtones of a doomed war are paralleled with Joker's evocation of the old west, another era ravaged by the ever marching boots of progress, and the children's song that ends the film suggesting an eternal infancy.. reminding us of the starchild.

Eyes Wide Shut caps his achievements. this is a film that exists outside history by encapsulating all of his films that had gone on before. in terms of napoleon's life, this film has its parallels in the emperor's final words: "France, armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine." ("France, army, head of the army, Joséphine.") in his last moments napoleon returned in his mind to his home, and to his work, and to his great love. the film plays this brilliantly as it was the first time since he left new york that kubrick films had returned to this location, his home, his heimat. it also features abundant art work by his wife, which adorn walls throughout the film in the same way that indian artwork seeped through the walls of the shining. the movie is a love letter to his wife, and FINALLY an honest study of femininity.. kubrick is communicating with his wife through their own respective mediums, in their own separate language. the communication of ideas across seemingly insurmountable darkness was thus perfected further -- kubrick's interpretation of the icarus myth is thus confirmed in this film to mean the perfection of means of travel from one mind to another. kubrick's intention with napoleon would be to enter his mind, to know what it was like to make those mistakes and to live with them.. to know HOW those mistakes were possible, but first the means of communicating thought needed to be perfected beyond the state of the art.

the communication of ideas in a pure way, through pure meaning, as if blaring luminosity from trumpets all around, is a return to the gaze of the starchild. the instance of communication that occurred at the moment the starchild made contact with our vision was the false narrative kubrick worked to uncover. to create the perfect bridge that joins two points of view, literally, to give wings to the ideas that get lost when one person looks at anothers eyes. the make-up of these wings is present in his films, his language is fluid and almost infinitely direct. it is so clear and brilliant that it is possible for any VIEWER to see something significant as it reflects off their own inner language. the false narrative of marriage in EWS is dissolved in the film to show the union of souls is not to mean the perfection of them simply through the statement of a few words.. true connection needs to be made up of meaningful correspondence, to connect with the other directly in their vision. this was a film in which a married couple communicate in dreams and memories. the final confession bill provides to his wife takes place offscreen, it is instigated by a direct connection Bill feels with his wife while she is asleep -- it's as if she has somehow reached him directly through her dreams.. the conversation they have is not seen, and for all intents and purposes could well have been a silent one.. bill was to have communicated to his wife his encounters which even to us remain unclear whether they were only a dream. the lack of technical innovation in his last films is akin to the silent confession bill makes to his wife. with eyes wide shut kubrick proves that the absence of clarity can contain absolute truth.

but this all amounts to very little in the eyes of the public, who remain BLIND to the brilliance of kubrick's films. it boggled my mind that after Eyes Wide Shut people could still doubt him, but he had been dealing with this all his life, and now that i'm older i want to understand what that was like. well, that's what i was thinking about when the shining turned 30..
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

Pozer

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2010, 10:56:51 AM »
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Pubrick

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2010, 11:30:28 AM »
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and now i shave myself..

endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

Pubrick

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2010, 05:51:35 AM »
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ATTN: anyone skimming this. please note that the LARGE BULK of my second post was NOT a reply to anyone in particular, it was an extension of my original thoughts and in the end sort of a whole new point entirely.. i have not wasted time and energy replying to GT. you can STILL catch up and participate if you skip GT's comments and read only my posts. obviously, if you agree with GT that there is nothing to discuss and that this is all a waste of time then feel free to ignore this as well.

i will not be replying to anyone who looks at these posts and says "well, what's the point of FUN anyway?"

my aim is not that grand, i just like coming up with different types of theories about kubrick and why he's so great. i watch his films and i think about them and i'm inspired to make connections. it's FUN for me. i have been doing it for years and never have i said this or that is the definitive interpretation of his work, that would kill my joy. what i'm interested in is the inspiration and the clarity it brings. everything becomes connected and everything becomes clear in my mind.. this is VERY rewarding when you are trying to think creatively. i have found that the more i learn, experience, and the more insights i develop in life the more i get out of kubrick's films -- the more they give back to me. i also don't claim that kubrick is the only artist to possess these qualities, there are many more which his films have given me the ability to recognize! and certainly there are people who live and die by these other artists. well kubrick is mine.

if you disagree fundamentally on this, then obviously there is nothing i can do. this is for KUBRICK FANS only, and anyone else who has been affected deeply by his movies as i have. i mean, if kubrick himself never convinced some people that he was this good, i have little faith that 3500 words written for entertainment purposes will win over any more hearts and minds.

oh well, maybe it's time i start that blog. in the meantime.. back to the drain for me!
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

mogwai

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Re: the shining turned 30 today.
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2010, 08:45:13 AM »
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Go with your own flow P. Do what feels the best for you. You like to write a lot and you seem to be on a creative roll. Keep it up and concentrate what makes you the most satisfied.

 

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