|Kubrick, misunderstood as usual
|Please allow me to excerpt a post I wrote on
the L.A. Times bulletin board:
the use of mise-en-scene to create total conceptual environments for
each film - for me, the key factor of his artistry, and one rarely understood.
Like Bertolt Brecht, he played against audience expectations of plot
and character - hence the often-heard criticism that his films were
"cold" or "clinical." I believe that in the future his refusal to pander
to critics' expectations of sympathetic character identification will
be viewed as an important strength - a manifestation of Kubrick's commitment
to get to the "truth" of a situation. His thorough forethought of every
aspect guaranteed that every frame would be true to and illuminating
of a film's overriding concept. Also, the subtlety and complexity of
each film demonstrated that he took the intelligence of the audience
as a given.'
applies to the idea that he simply crafted images that supplemented
literary works. What he did was take a novel and use it as a sort of
skeleton around which to build his cinematic concepts. Consider almost
any Kubrick film with this thought in mind, and one's whole perception
of the film is likely to change. For instance, for me, Barry
Lyndon is about the inescapable passage of time, and its human
consequences. It is deeply existential and deeply humanistic.
What could be more humanist than saying, in effect, "even if you're
a scumbag and an idiot, it's still tragic when your life falls
apart; it's tragic how the separation of passing time makes your humanity
completely inaccessible to us; it's tragic that we are all born into
temporally specific social constructs which shape our lives more than
we even realize"?
|In fact, I think that
last tragedy is the underlying theme of all of Kubrick's films, bar
none. And if that's cold and clinical, then the thought of any understanding
between fellow human beings is truly a pipe dream.