Kubrick Left Legacy for Home Theater Fans

Stanley Kubrick's death on Sunday, March 7, stunned the film community and millions of the director's fans worldwide. He was in the process of completing the finishing technical touches on his last film, Eyes Wide Shut, and editing a trailer for it. His family reported that he died in his sleep, just five days after the film's first private screening for Warner Bros. executives.

The 70-year-old Kubrick was one of the industry's most meticulous craftsmen---he reportedly shot one scene for his 1957 antiwar story Paths of Glory 58 times before he was satisfied. When The Shining was released, it was reported that Kubrick had shot one brief scene (Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd crossing a street) more than 80 times. His creative perfectionism was matched by his frugality. One Hollywood executive who had worked with Kubrick remarked that he was the only director "who would treat the studio's money as if it were his own."

He was also one of only three directors (Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood are the others) who was given total control over his projects. The enigmatic filmmaker made only 13 full-length movies in his 45-year career, which began with a 16-minute boxing documentary, Day of the Fight. Kubrick was only 22 when he sold the short to RKO Films.

Spielberg says Kubrick was the "grand master of filmmaking. He copied no one, while we were all scrambling to imitate him." Despite his acclaim, he never won an Academy Award for Best Director. He did win one for Best Visual Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

With the exception of the period drama Barry Lyndon, Kubrick's films were critical and financial successes. Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange were also tremendously controversial. (A Clockwork Orange was the early-'70s equivalent of Natural Born Killers. Adrian Lyne's 1997 remake of Lolita encountered more difficulties than Kubrick's original did in 1962.)

Eyes Wide Shut is scheduled for theatrical release on July 16. Virtually all of Kubrick's other films are available on video tape, including Killer's Kiss (1955), The Killing (1956), The Shining (1980), and Full Metal Jacket (1987). Most of them were released as laserdiscs in the 1980s and early '90s, and three are available on DVD: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Dr. Strangelove (1964), and Spartacus (1960). The Internet has dozens of Stanley Kubrick sites.