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6 Reasons Why Stanley Kubrick Movies Should Never Be Remade

Remembering Kubrick on his 82nd B-Day

By Dirk Sonniksen     July 19, 2010

6 Reasons Why Stanley Kubrick Movies Should Never Be Remade
© Bob Trate/Mania


Today we celebrate what would have been Stanley Kubrick’s 82nd birthday, a director that many loved and just as many hated, but who was ultimately known to have been one the most influential filmmakers of our time. Kubrick’s films embraced the bizarre in lieu of the norm, tragedy over sentiment, Kubrick’s own peculiar satire, and an affinity for sexual situations that would become a staple of Kubrick’s style.
While there have been attempts at remaking Kubrick’s films (Lolita, The Shining), these attempts have failed to capture the essence that made Kubrick’s versions memorable. To make our point, we have compiled a list of reasons why Kubrick’s films should not be remade.

6. Social Commentary/War

Kubrick was decidedly anti-war, and that came through in the three war films he would direct. Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and Full Metal Jacket ultimately dealt more with what Kubrick saw as the inhumanity of the military system itself and less with the overall patriotic ideals that are often associated with war. While other directors would travel this road to an extent, Kubrick’s primary intention was to focus on the abuse of power he saw as an established element within the military.

5. Disturbing perspective

Kubrick’s films are not the type of fun, matinee fare you take the kids to see, unless you want your kids to have nightmares for the next month. Kubrick’s use of wide-angle shots, tracking, and what is known as “The Glare” from his characters, all created moments in his films that make the hair on you arms stick up. A few examples are Jack losing his mind in The Shining and Private Pile going nuts in Full Metal Jacket. Adding to the plethora of disturbing material is the gang rape scene in A Clockwork Orange, probably one of the most troubling moments of Kubrick’s films.

4. Freakish Attention to Detail

Kubrick would spend years developing a project. He spent 5 years developing 2001: A Space Odyssey and over 15 years developing AI, a film he would not live to direct. This was the beginning in a maniacal process that highlighted Kubrick’s attention to detail. Once filming began, the real fun started, particularly for the actors, who would endure dozens (in some cases hundreds) of takes to get a shot the way Stanley wanted it.

3. Bucking Hollywood

Kubrick fought more than one battle with studio execs over the contents of his films, with studios a bit apprehensive to take on many of his themes. Kubrick was not one to shy away from hefty subject matter, including that of Lolita, and a number of films that were scrapped due to censorship concerns. While he was born in the United States, he relocated to England in 1962 to shoot Lolita, with the hopes that Britain’s less stringent censorship laws would give him more freedom. In fact, he was right, and Kubrick would stay in Britain for the remainder of his life.

2. Provocative/Edgy

Stanley had a thing for sexual situations. One might see the gang rape scene from A Clockwork Orange, or catch a glimpse of the orgy in Eyes Wide Shut, and think Kubrick had some serious issues. In fact, Kubrick was known to be a pretty loving sort of guy, a devoted family man, and an avid lover of animals. That Kubrick covered so many disturbing topics only goes to show that he was always pondering the realities of life (albeit, strange realities), and seeing things in a way no other director could.

1. Originality/A True Auteur

No other director could copy Kubrick. Steven Spielberg tried (bless his heart) when he took over AI after Kubrick’s death. AI would ultimately become a Spielberg film trying desperately to look like a Stanley Kubrick film. While Kubrick certainly used a particular style in all his films, that style was always transferred to a completely different canvas, a feat that set him apart from other directors.

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Showing items 1 - 10 of 25
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Rheul_home 7/19/2010 9:48:30 AM

Kubrick was the best...

trollman 7/19/2010 9:57:07 AM

It's hit and miss for me.  The Shining.  GREAT!!!  Clockwork Orange.  Hated it.  2001.  Loved it. Eyes Wide Shut. I personally thought it was one of the biggest wastes of my life. Even Nicole nudity couldn't save that movie. That's is all just my opinion. I'm not trying to convince anyone to change theirs. I'm just voicing mine.

krakken 7/19/2010 10:48:23 AM

2001, one of the most overrated movies of all time.  Yeah, I said it.

redhairs99 7/19/2010 10:49:42 AM

I wouldn't really call that TV mini-series of The Shining starring Steven Weber a "remake."  It tried to follow the book more than Kubrick's version.  I don't know.  I just tend to think of them as two different things.  Kubrick's vision was a movie.  The other was made for tv.  Kubrick added his own ideas and the other tried to be true to the source material.

swisshammer 7/19/2010 11:00:21 AM

You can't deny this guy's brilliance. One of a kind.

AgentCoop 7/19/2010 11:37:07 AM

Some directors are so uniquely idiosycratic that trying to remake any of their films is basically pointless. Kubrick, Lynch, maybe Cronenberg. Their films are not just movies. They're windows into the directors psyche. Someone else trying to recapture that makes little sense.

An argument can be made that films like The Shining, which is based on someone else's material, can be remade effectively. To an extent that's true. Kubrick's version of The Shining is very much a Kubrick film even though it does keep a lot of Stephen King's plot intact. By choosing to follow the book more faithfully, the mini-series version went in a direction that makes sense when choosing to revisit that material. And they succeeded pretty well. I think the mini-series is pretty solid, and a lot of fun for King fans like myself. That being said, though, it's Kubrick's film that everyone remembers and will continue to remember for decades to come. There's a reason for that.

redhairs99 7/19/2010 12:21:49 PM

AgentCoop, can't really argue with that.  Kubrick's The Shining is awesome!  The mini-series is good and stays more faithful to the source material, but I still think Kubrick's is definitive.

Roqueja 7/19/2010 12:36:51 PM

Good pick of clips to show off some of his imaginative work.  Speilberg loved Kubricks work so much that he attempted to show what could have been.  Brass pair on him for bringing it to the screen. 

I personally liked the impact that scenes in the movies had, be it horror, suspence, or connection with the characters or story.  Each and every movie had scenes with undeniable impact.

wessmith1966 7/19/2010 12:37:56 PM

I have to agree with krakken's statement of 2001 being overrated. I would say hugely overrated (like Citizen Kane, the worst of the "great" films). I really dislike minute-long shots of empty rooms that add absolutely nothing to the story and that was the last 20 minutes of the movie. What I like about the movie is the effects, but that's it. I loved the Shining but thought Eyes Wide Shut was a mess of a movie that said absolutely nothing. I loved the boot camp part of Full Metal Jacket, but that's more because of Lee's performance and my being a Marine when the movie came out. Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange were strange movies with important messages. I guess I look at Kubrick as one of the great directors whose movies I just don't get, because when I watch them I really don't see the brilliance. I see a lot of disjointed shots that are supposed to add mood to the movie but just look like wasted film to me.

DarkXid 7/19/2010 12:52:55 PM

I'll give you 1 Reason why they should never be remade.  THEY SUCK!!!

Parts of them I liked, but for the most part his movies are unwatchable dregs.  Lee Emery can't be beat, but once he's dead, I stop watching Full Metal Jacket for the most part.  After that, what's left but boredem  and Adam Baldwin. 

2001 was overrated.  Great effects for it's time and it caputred a bit of the potential loneliness and claustraphobia of space and in that made for some realy tense moments.  But other than that it was a snooze fest. 

Most of his movies I can find something to watch.  Eyes wide shut?  I've seen it several times and can find nothing to good to say about it, other than at least he died before he made something else.

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