On Kubrick is a critical study of Stanley Kubrick's career, beginning with his earliest feature, "Fear and Desire" (1953), and ending with his posthumous production of "A.I., Artificial Intelligence" (2001). Organized in six parts ("The Taste Machine," "Young Kubrick," "Kubrick, Harris, Douglas," "Stanley Kubrick Presents," "Late Kubrick," and "Epilogue"), it offers provocative analysis of each of Kubrick's films together with new information about their production histories and cultural contexts. Its ultimate aim is to provide a concise yet thorough discussion that will be useful as both an academic text and a trade publication. The book argues that in several respects Kubrick was one of the cinema's last modernists: his taste and sensibility were shaped by the artistic culture of New York in the 1950s; he became a celebrated auteur who forged a distinctive style; he used art-cinema conventions in commercial productions; he challenged censorship regulations; and throughout his career he was preoccupied with one of the central themes of modernist art - the conflict between rationality and its ever-present shadow, the unconscious. War and science are often the subjects of his films, and his work has a hyper-masculine quality; yet no director has more relentlessly emphasized the absurdity of combat, the failure of scientific reasoning, and the fascistic impulses in masculine sexuality. The book also argues that while Kubrick was a voracious intellectual and a life-long autodidact, the fascination of his work has less to do with the ideas it espouses than with the emotions it evokes. Often described as "cool" or "cold," Kubrick is best understood as a skillful practitioner of what might be called the aesthetics of the grotesque; he employs extreme forms of caricature and black comedy to create disgusting, frightening, yet also laughable images of the human body. No less than Diane Arbus (who was his contemporary), he makes his viewers uneasy, unsure how to react either emotionally or politically.
by James Naremore (Author)
Hardcover, 272 Pages