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Stanley Kubrick: A Biography

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Stanley Kubrick, director of the acclaimed filmsPath of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: Space Odyssey. A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, is arguably one of the greatest American filmmakers. Yet, despite being hailed as “a giant” by Orson Welles, little is known about the reclusive director. Stanley Kubrick—the first full-length study Stanley Kubrick, director of the acclaimed filmsPath of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: Space Odyssey. A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, is arguably one of the greatest American filmmakers. Yet, despite being hailed as “a giant” by Orson Welles, little is known about the reclusive director. Stanley Kubrick—the first full-length study of his life—is based on assiduous archival research as well as new interviews with friends, family, and colleagues.Film scholar Vincent LoBRutto provides a comprehensive portrait of the director, from his high school days, in the Bronx and his stint as a photographer for Look magazine, through the creation of his wide-ranging movies, including the long-awaited Eyes Wide Shut. The author provides behind-the-scenes details about writing, filming, financing, and reception of the director’s entire output, paying close attention to the technical innovations and to his often contentious relationships with actors. This fascinating biography exposes the enigma that is Stanley Kubrick while placing him in context of film history.


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Stanley Kubrick, director of the acclaimed filmsPath of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: Space Odyssey. A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, is arguably one of the greatest American filmmakers. Yet, despite being hailed as “a giant” by Orson Welles, little is known about the reclusive director. Stanley Kubrick—the first full-length study Stanley Kubrick, director of the acclaimed filmsPath of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: Space Odyssey. A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, is arguably one of the greatest American filmmakers. Yet, despite being hailed as “a giant” by Orson Welles, little is known about the reclusive director. Stanley Kubrick—the first full-length study of his life—is based on assiduous archival research as well as new interviews with friends, family, and colleagues.Film scholar Vincent LoBRutto provides a comprehensive portrait of the director, from his high school days, in the Bronx and his stint as a photographer for Look magazine, through the creation of his wide-ranging movies, including the long-awaited Eyes Wide Shut. The author provides behind-the-scenes details about writing, filming, financing, and reception of the director’s entire output, paying close attention to the technical innovations and to his often contentious relationships with actors. This fascinating biography exposes the enigma that is Stanley Kubrick while placing him in context of film history.

30 review for Stanley Kubrick: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rosenkavalier

    Stanley Kubrick è stato un grande artista e un uomo dalle molte singolarità. Autore leggendario, genio innovatore del cinema, uomo schivo e riservato, il suo progressivo isolarsi dal mondo aveva generato ogni sorta di mito sulle sue presunte manie. Raccontarne la storia può dare conto, in qualche misura, delle ragioni che stanno dietro alle sue opere? Questa mi pare l'unica domanda che il biografo di un artista dovrebbe porsi, salvo che la vita dell'artista in questione sia, di per sé, così interes Stanley Kubrick è stato un grande artista e un uomo dalle molte singolarità. Autore leggendario, genio innovatore del cinema, uomo schivo e riservato, il suo progressivo isolarsi dal mondo aveva generato ogni sorta di mito sulle sue presunte manie. Raccontarne la storia può dare conto, in qualche misura, delle ragioni che stanno dietro alle sue opere? Questa mi pare l'unica domanda che il biografo di un artista dovrebbe porsi, salvo che la vita dell'artista in questione sia, di per sé, così interessante da costituire di per sé un buon motivo per un racconto. Leggendo il libro di Lobrutto, non pare che sia questo il caso di Kubrick, la cui vita privata non aveva nulla di eccezionale, a ben vedere. Infanzia tranquilla, risultati scolastici altalenanti, precoce propensione per le arti visive (la fotografia), grande determinazione e un carattere oscillante tra la ritrosia e la bonomia. La sua ritrosia appare prevalentemente dedicata allo star-system hollywoodiano, che Kubrick rifuggiva, mentre sono innumerevoli le testimonianze che lo descrivono come un uomo cordiale e gentile. Scartata l'ipotesi di raccontare SK come una specie di genio pazzo o di artista romantico, resterebbero i film (non poca cosa comunque). Invece di dedicarvisi di più, l'autore si dilunga in dettagli di poco conto, interminabili elenchi e digressioni tecniche non del tutto adatte a una biografia. Nei primi capitoli, per dire, si trova l'elenco di tutti gli indirizzi del Bronx nei quali la famiglia Kubrick ebbe la ventura di risiedere. Si trova poi un'interminabile sequela di descrizioni dei servizi fotografici realizzati dal regista per la rivista Look. Ora, questi ultimi possono essere effettivamente importanti per capire qualcosa di più del Kubrick compositore di immagini, ma la mera elencazione dei titoli dei servizi sarebbe stata meglio in un'appendice. La storia della lavorazione dei singoli film è descritta molto analiticamente, anche qui senza molto equilibrio tra anedottica pura e semplice, dettagli tecnici, analisi critica. Non mancano vere curiosità (come le incredibili invenzioni tecniche escogitate per la realizzazione di film come Barry Lyndon o Shining), ma il fuoco (per rimanere in tema) non pare ben centrato. Il finale, aggiunto nella seconda edizione pubblicata dopo la morte del regista, è un po' tirato via, sembra scritto di fretta per chiudere il volume e mandarlo in stampa. Nel complesso, il libro vale la lettura ma le mie aspettative sono andate piuttosto deluse. Se non siete veramente appassionati di SK o del cinema, non arriverete facilmente in fondo.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    Kubrick was a poor Jewish kid from the Bronx, not educated beyond high school (his grades throughout were terrible), who ended up an expatriated autodidactic cinematic genius. Also, he was a master-level chess player (his dad both taught him chess and bought him his first camera around the age of twelve) who hustled games in Central Park for extra money as a teenager. I still love to imagine the epic matches that may have taken place at the Nabokov/Kubrick meetings during the film adaptation of Kubrick was a poor Jewish kid from the Bronx, not educated beyond high school (his grades throughout were terrible), who ended up an expatriated autodidactic cinematic genius. Also, he was a master-level chess player (his dad both taught him chess and bought him his first camera around the age of twelve) who hustled games in Central Park for extra money as a teenager. I still love to imagine the epic matches that may have taken place at the Nabokov/Kubrick meetings during the film adaptation of Lolita (Kubrick was known to always have a chess set at hand and take all comers). To be a fly on the wall at the meeting of those two minds over the field of battle!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    This is an encompassing, very detailed, and often very technical exploration of Kubrick's filmmaking up until (and before) Eyes Wide Shut. Which is fine with me, as that one does not do anything for me. This means there is long, in-depth chapter on each of the following: 1987 Full Metal Jacket (pivotal bathroom set designed per Kubrick) 1980 The Shining (SteadiCam debut; Kubrick saw every ghost story as "hopeful" and tormented Duvall into a believable performance) 1975 Ba This is an encompassing, very detailed, and often very technical exploration of Kubrick's filmmaking up until (and before) Eyes Wide Shut. Which is fine with me, as that one does not do anything for me. This means there is long, in-depth chapter on each of the following: 1987 Full Metal Jacket (pivotal bathroom set designed per Kubrick) 1980 The Shining (SteadiCam debut; Kubrick saw every ghost story as "hopeful" and tormented Duvall into a believable performance) 1975 Barry Lyndon (not all candlelight, even MiniBrutes were used -- whatever to mock natural light in an early adoption of super-fase lenses) 1971 A Clockwork Orange (Amid controversy over ultra-violence, withdrawn from British release in 1973 by Warner Brothers at the request of Kubrick.) 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey (Clarke run through the wringer in writing to Kubrick's demand. Much about the ultimate-trip Star Child ending.) 1964 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Sellers had to be convinced to play through role, again) 1962 Lolita (Sellers had to be convinced to play through role; the pederast angle had to be downplayed for the era) 1960 Spartacus (Kubrick's pluck, dedication, and resourcefulness got him a first real chance) There is a lot here on the never realized Napoleon project, obsessive reading and researching for a book to base each movie on, on-set technique, etc. including how Kubrick methodically thought out and controlled what prints were used by exhibitors and how films were rolled out to exhibitors.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Woodall

    I wish Goodreads had the option of marking a book "abandoned" rather than "read". I abandoned this one. It just couldn't hold my interest. I thought I would like its thoroughness, but it turns out that I did not. If you were doing some scholarly research on Kubrick, you might really like it. But for someone more casually interested, it was just too much to slog through. A slow dull read. I wish Goodreads had the option of marking a book "abandoned" rather than "read". I abandoned this one. It just couldn't hold my interest. I thought I would like its thoroughness, but it turns out that I did not. If you were doing some scholarly research on Kubrick, you might really like it. But for someone more casually interested, it was just too much to slog through. A slow dull read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    Solid biography of the reclusive and brilliant director, ending in the mid-90s before "Eyes Wide Shut". Along with the documentary "Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures", this is probably as much as we'll ever find out about him. Solid biography of the reclusive and brilliant director, ending in the mid-90s before "Eyes Wide Shut". Along with the documentary "Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures", this is probably as much as we'll ever find out about him.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pat Rolston

    This is for serious fans or seekers of Stanley Kubrick’s storied film making career and biography. The book’s greatest strength is it’s incredible detail and as one would expect this is also the greatest weakness. There is far more information about the intricacies of his films than most people will find necessary for a biographical work. I enjoyed most all of the film and personal history, but post the review as cautionary in this regard. The book ends prior to his last film, ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ This is for serious fans or seekers of Stanley Kubrick’s storied film making career and biography. The book’s greatest strength is it’s incredible detail and as one would expect this is also the greatest weakness. There is far more information about the intricacies of his films than most people will find necessary for a biographical work. I enjoyed most all of the film and personal history, but post the review as cautionary in this regard. The book ends prior to his last film, ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ but on no way does this detract from the reading experience. If you want the definitive story of this cinematic genius’ life and his films then look no further.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This bio was crazy good. I am unreasonably and unfairly dinging it a star for not having any details on A.I. (and the tyranny of the reader review strikes again).

  8. 4 out of 5

    JerryDeanHalleck

    Published just before Kubrick's death, this seems to have been the "authorized Biography". Over 500 pages long, the book goes over every Kubrick film (except Eyes Wide Shut ) in great detail and includes lots of quotes from the actors. That's the good part. Unfortunately, the author has zero desire to be critical about Kubrick or his films. And he doesn't quote anyone who is. If anyone disliked working with Stanley Kubrick - or hated his films - they aren't in this book. The other problem? Kubric Published just before Kubrick's death, this seems to have been the "authorized Biography". Over 500 pages long, the book goes over every Kubrick film (except Eyes Wide Shut ) in great detail and includes lots of quotes from the actors. That's the good part. Unfortunately, the author has zero desire to be critical about Kubrick or his films. And he doesn't quote anyone who is. If anyone disliked working with Stanley Kubrick - or hated his films - they aren't in this book. The other problem? Kubrick was a recluse and not particularly interesting. His whole life was making films. His own films. His way. That's all he did. Unlike say, Welles or Kazan, he was uninterested in Theater or the other arts. SK's talents was primarily visual. He wasn't a writer, but good at putting together a screen-play. And Kubrick's ideas/opinions regarding culture, politics, or religion, were superficial and conventional. Kubrick's life story was equally dull. Grew up in a middle class NYC household. Became obsessed with film and photography. Started as a magazine photographer, then hooked up with the son of a Broadway producer and made the The killers . Hired by Kirk Douglas at age 29 to direct Paths of Glory . Then did Spartacus for Douglas. By 1962, his life was set. Married, making his own films, and living permanently in England. That's pretty much it. No military service. No mistresses. No battles with addiction. No great friendships or feuds. Just a guy making a film every 4-5 years. And the author doesn't try to make it any less dull.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chiara

    Questo libro è stato una penosa delusione. Ho dovuto leggerlo per preparare l'esame di storia del cinema e ammetto che avevo buone aspettative a riguardo: s'è rivelato pedante, scritto mediamente male e in gran parte confusionario. Credo che in parte la colpa sia del traduttore: ci sono alcuni passaggi che sono stati tradotti in maniera pedestre (come "parenti" anziché "genitori", per dirne una) -per il costo e il tipo di libro questi errori sono assolutamente inaccettabili. Inoltre l'autore ci h Questo libro è stato una penosa delusione. Ho dovuto leggerlo per preparare l'esame di storia del cinema e ammetto che avevo buone aspettative a riguardo: s'è rivelato pedante, scritto mediamente male e in gran parte confusionario. Credo che in parte la colpa sia del traduttore: ci sono alcuni passaggi che sono stati tradotti in maniera pedestre (come "parenti" anziché "genitori", per dirne una) -per il costo e il tipo di libro questi errori sono assolutamente inaccettabili. Inoltre l'autore ci ha messo del suo: è scritto nella prefazione che ha impiegato molti anni a raggruppare le fonti che gli hanno fornito il necessario per scrivere questa biografia e, forse, nell'esagerazione di notizie si è perso. E' un susseguirsi di date fuorvianti, intere frasi a cui sembra mancare il soggetto, divagazioni esagerate e poco approfondimento in sezioni che, invece, avrei pensato fondamentali (ad esempio i suoi primi film). Sinceramente, una lettura assolutamente inutile.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    While I have read a few books analyzing Kubrick's films, I have never read a proper biography of him. And man, is this a proper biography. LoBrutto did an insane amount of research that's daunting at first. He has Kubrick's high school GPA in the early chapters. Seriously. However, that level of detail is rewarding as he gets into Kubrick's individual movies. Like Hitchcock, Kubrick is a master I revere and learning more behind the scenes history made this book a fleet 500 pages. At first, I was While I have read a few books analyzing Kubrick's films, I have never read a proper biography of him. And man, is this a proper biography. LoBrutto did an insane amount of research that's daunting at first. He has Kubrick's high school GPA in the early chapters. Seriously. However, that level of detail is rewarding as he gets into Kubrick's individual movies. Like Hitchcock, Kubrick is a master I revere and learning more behind the scenes history made this book a fleet 500 pages. At first, I was annoyed this was written in 1996 when Kubrick hadn't made Eyes Wide Shut yet. I would've loved one more chapter on that movie in LoBrutto's hands. But I like the bittersweet, time capsule quality this book has not knowing Kubrick would die three years later. This is an epic and painstaking look at a man who was epic and painstaking himself. Bravo.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Filippo Ulivieri

    La migliore delle due biografie: un ottimo lavoro di ricerca per una mole impressionante di notizie, aneddoti sulla lavorazione dei film, racconti e testimonianze sui processi creativi e le tecniche usate dal regista, raccolti con stile sobrio anche se leggermente piatto e celebrativo. Contiene un inserto di 16 pagine con fotografie in bianco e nero. Di questo libro Kubrick ha detto: "ci sono cose di me e della mia famiglia che non sapevo." La migliore delle due biografie: un ottimo lavoro di ricerca per una mole impressionante di notizie, aneddoti sulla lavorazione dei film, racconti e testimonianze sui processi creativi e le tecniche usate dal regista, raccolti con stile sobrio anche se leggermente piatto e celebrativo. Contiene un inserto di 16 pagine con fotografie in bianco e nero. Di questo libro Kubrick ha detto: "ci sono cose di me e della mia famiglia che non sapevo."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    Although it’s not a very good read if you’re looking to tap into the mind of Kubrick and understand his thought process, it does offer great interviews with co-workers and start-to-finish recounts of all of his films bar Eyes Wide Shut. A few things here and there throughout the book that I didn't know about the man. (Written before his death and subsequently the release of the previously stated movie.) Although it’s not a very good read if you’re looking to tap into the mind of Kubrick and understand his thought process, it does offer great interviews with co-workers and start-to-finish recounts of all of his films bar Eyes Wide Shut. A few things here and there throughout the book that I didn't know about the man. (Written before his death and subsequently the release of the previously stated movie.)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bryn

    An interesting read but is seriously lacking in detail and contains many mistakes. Could have been better researched. Also at times it becomes more of a biography of people Kubrick knew than it is about Kubrick. Still, its good to read about the man's life in such a linear fashion. An interesting read but is seriously lacking in detail and contains many mistakes. Could have been better researched. Also at times it becomes more of a biography of people Kubrick knew than it is about Kubrick. Still, its good to read about the man's life in such a linear fashion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen Eliot

    Very interesting and readable account of Kubrick's career, which may veer a little towards hagiography but nevertheless has some interesting insights to offer. The stuff on his early career - before he even made films - gave it some unexpected depth. Very interesting and readable account of Kubrick's career, which may veer a little towards hagiography but nevertheless has some interesting insights to offer. The stuff on his early career - before he even made films - gave it some unexpected depth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Hands down, best bio of auteur filmmaker and how Stanley Kubrick became synonymous with perfection and realist, not misconstrued as cold, visionary of humanity. His eccentricities, even temperament, fully portrayed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steven P.R.

    This is a very thorough biography of Stanley Kubrick. I read this many years ago and was impressed by the wealth of information it presents. The book gives you an insight into his life and how he made movies. If you're a fan of Stanley Kubrick, this is a good book to read. This is a very thorough biography of Stanley Kubrick. I read this many years ago and was impressed by the wealth of information it presents. The book gives you an insight into his life and how he made movies. If you're a fan of Stanley Kubrick, this is a good book to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    this book was good but it seemed overly detailed and really long, still overall it was very interesting and informative/

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    The worst. Just.. Written before his death and suffers from lack of real info.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David Ashley

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Bouldin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Darcy Olmstead

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh Disney

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adriano Ercolani

  25. 5 out of 5

    John J Questore

  26. 4 out of 5

    Farhad

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  28. 4 out of 5

    Naotake Murayama

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Laccohee

  30. 5 out of 5

    jaclyn renee gregeris

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