Behind the scenes with Stanley Kubrick

Director Stanley Kubrick was deeply involved in virtually every aspect of his films, from research to publicity.

Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives book cover
Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives book cover

This is the main finding of the exhibition Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives, which looks to share this insight and shine a light on Kubrick as ‘a voracious absorber and synthesiser of all forms of information’.

The exhibition deconstructs Kubrick’s sets, physically in some cases, to reveal the elemental parts, which make his visions both fantastical and believable.

Frame from a contact sheet featuring the photojournalist Weegee seeking a better angle from a stepladder, during the filming of Jules Dassin’s film The Naked City, July 1947, New York City. Kubrick would hire Weegee 15 years later as a set photographer fo
Frame from a contact sheet featuring the photojournalist Weegee seeking a better angle from a stepladder, during the filming of Jules Dassin’s film The Naked City, July 1947, New York City. Kubrick would hire Weegee 15 years later as a set photographer for his film Dr. Strangelove. Photographer: Stanley Kubrick.

It is a chance to learn about the sets, models, lighting, editing, and filming devices, which are entwined with Kubrick’s own singular and enigmatic perspective.

The exhibition focuses on three sets from films shot in the UK: the Discovery spaceship from 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968; The Overlook Hotel from The Shining, 1980; and Huế City from Full Metal Jacket, 1987.

Screenshot featuring Toba Metz-Kubrick (left) who appears briefly as a fisherwoman in her husband’s first feature, Fear and Desire, 1953
Screenshot featuring Toba Metz-Kubrick (left) who appears briefly as a fisherwoman in her husband’s first feature, Fear and Desire, 1953

London’s work gallery, which is hosting the exhibition, says the three sets share some commonality in that they are about humans’ relationship with their environment and ‘the interplay between perception and physical place’.

The young Stanley Kubrick, before becoming a professional photographer.
The young Stanley Kubrick, before becoming a professional photographer.

Material, including original photographs and documents, has been borrowed from the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, to give an insight into the research, filming and set design techniques that Kubrick used.

Research image, Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Red Hat, 1665–1667.
Research image, Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Red Hat, 1665–1667.

The exhibition also marks the publication of Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives by Black Dog publishing (the publishing division attached to the gallery) – which contains a collection of essays by scholars working closely with the Stanley Kubrick Archive.

Research images, Nikolai Ge, Peter the Great interrogating Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, 1871.
Research images, Nikolai Ge, Peter the Great interrogating Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, 1871.

Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives runs from 8 August – 27 September at Work, 10a Acton Street, WC1X 9NG

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