The Shining (1980), Stanley Kubrick

As its director’s own remarkable oeuvre touches the worst excesses of mankind through youth callousness, apes and their killing instincts and cynical warfare games, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 The Shining suggests the worst horrors actually inhabits man’s own deep and hidden recesses.

the-shining-2From the outset The Shining was surrounded by controversy as its director not only rejected the script written by the author of the source material, but also changed the tale’s central thesis. As the film diverges quite a lot from Stephen King’s novel, one feels for him for the butchering of his story. The celebrated writer – whose several tales have been adapted to the cinema – let everyone know he disliked the movie. However, the fact remains that Kubrick’s film is a classic masterwork of horror cinema – even, of cinema, full stop – whereas King’s novel, although a great book, is nonetheless flawed as literature. Continue reading

Paths of Glory (1957), Stanley Kubrick

A cynical perspective on military motivations, Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 Paths of Glory, with its themes of moral corruption, undisguised hypocrisy and absurd vanity, astonishes and outrages in equal measure, for its outstanding storytelling and unbearable injustice.

paths-of-glory-2Usually understood as an anti-war film, Paths of Glory seems unduly reduced to a moralistic and doctrinaire tale. Colonel Dax, the audience’s alter ego, is indeed an honourable and dignified man, who nevertheless remains a military man to the very end. He even becomes outraged when his superior suggests that his quest for justice is in reality an artifice to get a promotion. However, as dignified as he may be, Dax never questions the bureaucratic structure or the raison d’être of his organization. The movie fights through some very dense philosophical issues. Continue reading

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Stanley Kubrick

A richly allegorical and visually striking masterwork, Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey is for some, pretentious and uneventful, and yet for others, it is the ultimate work of art which deals with some of the most fundamental philosophical questions.

2001-a-space-odyssey-2Since The Killing, his breakthrough movie, Stanley Kubrick could not put a foot wrong. He made one great film after the other. Just a few other filmmakers (perhaps, auteurs like Tarkovsky or Malick) can rival his ratio of masterpieces-to-films-made. In other words, it is hard to decide on his ultimate masterwork: the movie that defines his legacy. So, as 2001: A Space Odyssey stands tall in his oeuvre, maybe elbowing past Paths of Glory, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining to the top, it deserves to be called a special film indeed. Continue reading