Stanley Kubrick is probably one of the most studied filmmakers in American history – you can find hundreds of books about the making of classics like The Shining, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Spartacus, and the rest of his filmography. But hearing what Kubrick thought about his movies, in his own words, is more of a rarity. Now, a new documentary aims to scratch that itch for film fans.

Kubrick By Kubrick Trailer

Director Grégory Monro‘s documentary is supposed to be debuting at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and the festival program describes the movie like this:

Unspooling exclusive new recordings of detailed interviews with the mythic director spanning 30 years that ruminate on his philosophies, documentarian Grégory Monro weaves a tapestry of archival footage with the rhythm and care of a consummate historian relishing in his discoveries. No stranger to investigating legends of the screen, Monro’s exuberant and lyrical cinematic essay is vital. Taking viewers on a journey beyond Jupiter, Kubrick by Kubrick celebrates the essence of what film means to those who make it – and those who watch.

“In a work of fiction, you have to have conflict,” Kubrick’s voice explains in the trailer. “If there isn’t a problem in a story, it can almost by definition not be a story.” He’s clearly talking about script and structure there, but that statement could also apply to himself and his own filmmaking methods. Kubrick was famously demanding and exacting, often forcing actors to do dozens of takes of the same scene. This type of behavior has been mythologized and practically deified over the decades as his films were released and Kubrick’s reputation grew, and I’m curious if these recordings will offer any sort of insight into his feelings about that unconventional approach. Will his legend grow even more, or will those tactics be reevaluated and demystified a little by cinephiles and filmmakers who look to him as an icon?

Kubrick also didn’t particularly like discussing the themes and deeper meanings embedded within his work. “One of the things I always find extremely difficult, when a picture’s finished, is when a writer or a film reviewer asks, ‘Now, what is it that you were trying to say in that picture?'” he said in a 1960 interview. “And without being thought too presumptuous for using this analogy, I like to remember what T. S. Eliot said to someone who had asked him — I believe it was The Waste Land — what he meant by the poem. He replied, ‘I meant what I said.’ If I could have said it any differently, I would have.”

That aversion to explanation is part of the reason this documentary is so tantalizing. What exactly do these new recordings uncover? Just how deep does the director’s self-reflection and analyzation go? The movie is still searching for a distributor, so it may be a while until we find out. Fingers crossed that a company sees the value in scooping this up and making it accessible to the world.

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