Stanley Kubrick | reDiscover

Dive into the world of a notorious perfectionist and cinematic legend, with our season looking back on Stanley Kubrick's innovation, rigour and technical expertise.

Rose Butler

16 May 24


Eyes Wide Shut (25th Anniversary)
Film Club | From 25 May 
| Book Now

Dr. Strangelove (60th Anniversary)
From 01 Jun | Book Now | Special Q&A event at West Norwood Picturehouse

Full Metal Jacket
Film Club | From 08 Jun | Book Now

2001: A Space Odyssey
From 15 Jun | Book Now


Between 1951 and 1999, American director Stanley Kubrick would make some of the most important cinematic contributions to the twentieth century, from Paths of Glory to Spartacus to Lolita, A Clockwork Orange to The Shining. In a career spanning three decades before his death in 1999, Kubrick directed thirteen features, many of which are considered to be some of the most influential and rigorous films ever made. Part of the 'New Hollywood' wave of directors, with peers including Scorsese, Spielberg and Lucas, Kubrick's rich filmography has been an inspiration for numerous contemporary filmmakers from Wes Anderson to the Coen Brothers and Christopher Nolan.

A notorious perfectionist, Kubrick involved himself in almost every aspect of the filmmaking process during the production of his films. Over the years, he cultivated expertise in screenwriting, editing and colour-grading, and was notorious for sending detailed notes to exhibitors to ensure the correct projection of his films. He was also infamous for demanding up to 30 or 40 takes of the same scene, often frustrating and confusing his actors; though several collaborators, from Malcolm McDowell to Nicole Kidman, would later praise the level of attention and guidance Kubrick gave his actors during shooting.

In 1966, Kubrick was one of the first directors to use video assist, allowing him to watch immediate playback of footage from 2001: A Space Odyssey; during the filming of Barry Lyndon he custom-made his own zoom lenses, and in 1980, The Shining was one of the first films to use the revolutionary Steadicam for the seamless, fast-flowing moving cameras lurking the Overlook hotel and its grounds.

Kubrick would pass away at the age of 70, just days after showing his family and friends the final cut of his last film, erotic drama Eyes Wide Shut. A true juggernaut of cinema, Kubrick's innovation, rigour and technical expertise belong on the big screen, and this short season celebrates the very best of this ground-breaking, beloved filmmaker.

- Rose Butler, Film Programmer


An exploration of fragile masculinity and marital decay, Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut follows a husband on a surreal night-long erotic adventure in a wintery New York underworld after his wife admits to considering an affair some 12 months earlier. Starring then-real-life couple and Hollywood royalty Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut is an adaptation of the 1926 Austrian novella 'Dream Story' by Arthur Schnitzler, with Kubrick obtaining the rights to the book in the 1960s, working on development in the 1980s, before finally starting production in the late 1990s.

Kubrick would allegedly consider Eyes Wide Shut to be his greatest achievement, though he would never see the film reach its audience; he passed away shortly after its completion, and only several days after screening his cut of the film to Kidman and Cruise. To receive an R rating in the US, Warner Bros. digitally altered several scenes during post-production following Kubrick's death. The film polarised audiences and critics in 1999, but has since been reappraised as one of his greatest films (and adopted by many as an excellent alternative Christmas movie).


A painfully funny take on the most serious of subjects, Dr. Strangelove is a razor-sharp satire of Cold War anxiety and human folly – a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushes the wrong button. The brilliant Peter Sellers tackles three wildly different roles: Royal Air Force Captain Lionel Mandrake, timidly trying to stop a nuclear attack on the USSR ordered by unbalanced Brigadier General Jack D Ripper (Sterling Hayden); the ineffectual and perpetually dumbfounded U.S President Merkin Muffley; and the titular Strangelove himself, a presidential advisor with a Nazi past.

A subversive masterpiece which finds hilarity in every unimaginable scenario, Dr. Strangelove developed out of Kubrick's preoccupation with the Cold War as it unfolded throughout the 1950s. He poured over countless political and military books on the subject, concluding that "no one really knew anything and the whole situation was absurd". Its sharp satire of nuclear planning and mutually assured destruction was deeply controversial upon release in the '60s, but the film has since been claimed as the greatest political satire ever made.


One of the most unsympathetic war films ever made, Full Metal Jacket explores the brutal and dehumanising effects of the Vietnam War on a platoon of U.S Marines, focusing on Privates 'Joker' (Matthew Modine) and 'Pyle' (Vincent D'Onofrio). Ostensibly the film is split into two halves – the first follows the Marines as they train under abusive drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Harman (Lee Ermey, essentially playing his Vietnam-era self), and the second half shows their experiences in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.

Over the space of a decade, beginning with Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in 1979, five influential directors made films about the Vietnam War: Platoon (Oliver Stone), Casualties of War (Brian De Palma), Hamburger Hill (John Irvin), and Full Metal Jacket. It was Kubrick's fourth anti-war film following Fear and Desire, Paths of Glory and Dr. Strangelove, and, like many films looking back at conflict from some distance, explores how men are shaped by the dehumanising effects of combat.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)

There's little left to say about the film that Steven Spielberg refers to as "the big bang" of an entire filmmaking generation. A science-fiction experience like no other, 2001: A Space Odyssey remains – some fifty years since its theatrical release – one of the most technologically accomplished and thematically rich films ever made, and the only one of his films that personally earned Kubrick an Academy Award. Adapted from Arthur C. Clarke's short story 'The Sentinel', Clarke and Kubrick would collaborate on the film's screenplay, a project which would take the pair around four years, following the completion of Dr. Strangelove.

Inspired in part by the big-budget MGM cinemascope productions, and following the 1962 debut of ultra-widescreen format Cinerama, 2001 was shot on Super Panavision 70 and announced in 1965 as a Cinerama film. Kubrick and several technicians spent over two years painstakingly creating all visual effects in-camera; he finished the film's final cut just days before its release in April 1968.

Polarising opinion on release, responses ranged from Rock Hudson famously walking out of a screening declaring "What is this bullshit?", to the LA Times announcing it as "a milestone, a landmark… in the art of film". Audacious, evocative and endlessly influential, 2001 is a big-screen experience like no other.

From beloved classics to unearthed gems, reintroduce yourself to the best films of yesterday with reDiscover — be that last decade, or last century.

Film Club - special screenings every week, curated by us, are just £1 for Picturehouse Members. All other tickets £8. Find more on Film Club and see the latest films here.