Any true cinephile is aware of the name Stanley Kubrick and the 13 feature films he contributed to the history of cinema. When it comes to writing about Kubrick, I’m often not sure what exactly to write about. That is why I’m glad I’ve now found a particular focus: to document my attempts to see all of his films on the big screen. I must admit that the inspiration for this came from the week-long Kubrick retrospective at the IFC Center (March 20-28, 2013), which included not just his 13 directorial efforts but also Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (a film that Kubrick had developed for many years before handing it over to Spielberg).
For me, my odyssey through Kubrick’s filmography began 10 years ago. I was still in my first year of college and had not too recently become a member of the Museum of the Moving Image. I saw a lot of films there; each one a special experience. In March 2003, they were going to show Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had seen bits and pieces of it before, but there was nothing like seeing it in its entirety for the first time on the big screen. I even sat close to the front of the auditorium (either in the second or third row). It was a cinematic experience that would remain with me for years to come, and I will relish any chance to see it again on the big screen.
The next Kubrick film I got to see was 1964’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. This was a special screening for me as it was my 19th birthday. In May 2003, the Anthology Film Archives was screening it on my birthday, so I decided to make the trip to the Lower East Side to see it. I can say without hesitation that the trip was definitely worth it. This would be the first of two screenings of the film I attended that year. The other one took place in September 2003 at the Museum of the Moving Image on the Saturday the Museum was celebrating its 15th anniversary.
The next different Kubrick film I went to see was 1956’s The Killing at the Gramercy Theater on 23rd St. (the Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA, was undergoing a renovation at the time and until they re-opened they held their film screenings at the Gramercy Theater). It was a late July ’03 afternoon that I attended the screening, and I enjoyed it very much. It was at this point that I was beginning to realize how distinctive the cinematography was in Kubrick’s films, regardless of whether they were in black-and-white or color.
The final Kubrick film I saw that year was 1980’s The Shining. In October ’03, I discovered that the Loews Theater on 34th St. & 8th Ave. (now an AMC theater) was showing classic films every Thursday night at 7 p.m. for $5. When I saw that The Shining was listed, I knew I just had to attend. This was another of Kubrick’s films where I had seen some bits and pieces on TV (I also remembered the spoof on one of the Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons entitled “The Shinning”), but I was more than glad to see it as Kubrick originally intended. I would get another chance to see it on the big screen again eight years later in October 2011 at a midnight showing at the Clearview Chelsea theater on 23rd St. The film had lost none of its power.
(To be continued in: Stanley Kubrick: A Cinematic Odyssey Part Two)