9/24/2010New Negative Found For Stanley Kubrick's 'Fear And Desire', Will Film Finally Get A DVD Release?
Stanley Kubrick enthusiasts and fans, rejoice a little bit, because the director's first feature film, "Fear And Desire" may finally be getting a proper DVD release.
Following a screening of the film at the Los Angeles’ American Cinematheque, Caroline Frick Page, curator of motion pictures for the George Eastman House who hosted the screening hinted that a complete restoration of the film in conjunction with a DVD company isn't out of the question saying, “I think that a major restoration effort probably will be undertaken between George Eastman House and probably another company. I think you could potentially see a high-quality DVD that’s a collaboration between the country’s biggest archives [because] there is now apparently a negative. It’s not necessarily complete, but there is a negative
Apparently a new, partial negative of the film has been found in a long closed film lab in Puerto Rico
and in addition to the George Eastman House negative, which is believed to be the only copy in existence, there is now some material to go on to produce a proper restoration. As for the film, it's a tale about four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines and the madness that ensues (themes he obviously revisits more than once later in his career).
But there are some hurdles. Firstly, while the Kubrick estate having no claim on the copyright to the film (it's owned by the children of the film's distributor), they will undoubtedly still be an important voice and one that anyone trying to get a DVD made will want to have on their side. Kubrick was famously rumored to have tried to buy up all the prints of the film to destroy them, but generally speaking, he didn't hold much regard for his early, lesser known works and shorts that which really only gained interest after he had found his footing as a director.
But the other hurdle is a financial one. Restoration is expensive and it will take a DVD company with the right talent and bank account (ahem, The Criterion Collection) to do the film right. But again, will Criterion (or any other company) want to take on an endeavor with a Kubrick film without the blessing of the estate?
It remains to be seen how this will all play out, but if the DVD release Kubrick's early union documentary "The Seafarers" is anything to go by
, it is possible. That film has participation from Katharine Kubrick and features (oddly) a commentary by Roger Avary. And certainly, having a DVD release is preferable to the bootleg copies and YouTube videos that are the only way to watch the film currently.