2014: A Film Odyssey - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

2014: A Film Odyssey

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

The 21st century has often been looked upon as the age of progressive technology. Seeming to be the epicenter of our existence, the advances of cell phones, laptops and television sets seem to be one of the defining things about the younger generation. However, another technological advancement that remains seen but seldom discussed is today’s film technological advances. With recent releases like Transformers and Ridley Scott’s science fiction masterpiece Prometheus it is evident that film techniques like green screen and computerization have advanced drastically since George Lucas first released Star Wars.

Looking at all the recent advances, it can be alluring to imagine what some of the late great directors would’ve made of it. Which deceased director would maximize the full potential of today’s film technology? With a little thought, without a doubt Stanley Kubrick is at the top of the list.

Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange”

Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange”

Kubrick’s directing career started off with Flying Padre in 1951 and ended with Eyes Wide Shut from beyond the grave following his death in 1999, showing us a true savant of the arts. With a few masterpieces along the way, such as The Shining, Spartacus and A Clockwork Orange to add to the list.

He has often been copied, yet never duplicated or matched. Wes Anderson has engineered a lot of Kubrick’s personal film style. The Grand Budapest Hotel released earlier this year, got rave reviews from critics and indie audiences alike. It looked to be very Kubrick. Anderson employs a lot of the same techniques: pastel backdrops, full body camera viewing, etc. However, I wouldn’t say Wes Anderson is anywhere near Kubrick in this sense, their styles however are the most similar.

“Heeeere’s Johnny!” Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”

“Heeeere’s Johnny!”
Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”

Stanley Kubrick is well known for his adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining. However, though the film is a cinematography gem, it doesn’t quite depict his use of technology. The obvious choice for that would be 2001: a Space Odyssey, Hal9000 is a character any director would be proud of especially for its time. In addition to 2001: a Space Odyssey, a lineup also including Dr. Strangelove shows us with undeniable efficiency, just how advanced Kubrick was for his time.

When Dr. Strangelove showcased in 1964, nothing like the B-52 bombers he created had ever been engineered that beautifully on the silver screen. The quality, the technological efficiency and his knack for backlight production were remarkable, especially in 1964.

With "Lolita" Kubrick had to overcome censors and public opinion about old men and young girls and make a visually appealing film. Sue Lyon played the teenage Lolita.

With “Lolita” Kubrick had to overcome censors and public opinion about old men and young girls and make a visually appealing film. Sue Lyon played the teenage Lolita.

2001: a Space Odyssey is a more obvious choice, which Kubrick would release in 1968. It was the first time a director had ever employed a voiceover for an entire movie. Compare Hal9000 to anything any director was doing at the time. How cutting edge Stanley Kubrick was in 1968 is almost supernatural.

Steve Jobs, said to be the technological father of the 21st century, has nothing on Stanley Kubrick in this instance. Recalling the scene 2001: a Space Odyssey during the Jupiter Mission, in the cockpit the doctors and astronauts are using tablet-like computers that resemble iPads 40 years before their debut.

The list of technologies employed by Stanley Kubrick in that film are endless: personal televisions on the aircraft, lip reading computers, videophones, robots in space, suspended animation and even NASA’s moon landing were all developed, depicted and showcased decades before anyone else had even thought about them.

“Full Metal Jacket” was Kubrick’s stunningly beautiful masterpiece about the ugliest aspects of human nature. Pictured L-R: Arliss Howard, R. Lee Ermey and Matthew Modine.

“Full Metal Jacket” was Kubrick’s stunningly beautiful masterpiece about the ugliest aspects of human nature.
Pictured L-R: Arliss Howard, R. Lee Ermey and Matthew Modine.

In 2001, however, a movie was released by Steven Spielberg called AI: Artificial Intelligence, about a robot boy and his quest to lead a human life and find a real mother. Kubrick had collaborated on it shortly before his death. AI at the time of its release was a darker tone than a majority of Spielberg’s films, and though we could see Kubrick sort of grandfathering his directing style in it, it was still very much Spielberg. The role of David was cast starring Haley Joel Osment, and really, it seems to be one of his more underrated roles. He was stellar, and Osment was perfectly cast.

However, when Kubrick had collaborated with Spielberg he had expressed his desire for David to be played completely artificially, as in employ the use of a real robot. However, before Kubrick died the technology just wasn’t there. But with movies like Avatar it’s seductive to imagine what Kubrick could’ve done with a 2014 state of the art computer.

“Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb” Starring the iconic Peter Sellers.

“Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb”
Starring the iconic Peter Sellers.

With much regret it’s sad to say we will never experience a Stanley Kubrick film to its full technological potential. The image of Kubrick employing technology with his brand of subliminal seduction is one that can only be imagined. However, we will always have 2001: a Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove. Kubrick’s place in film history as an auteur, perhaps the auteur will surely not be forgotten as well. And though we don’t have Kubrick, thankfully we have talents such as Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott making full use of today’s film technology. The future of film can never be predicted, but it can always be changed.

(All photos are screen shots from YouTube)


About the author

Ciara Hernandez

Ciara Brook Hernandez is an aspiring journalist and Los Angeles County native who is currently attending Cypress College as a journalism major. In the recent spring quarter she was involved with the quarterly writing program at the University of California, Los Angeles where she took classes on creative writing and poetry and prose. In recent years she has volunteered for organizations such as the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012 and the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace. She intends to transfer in the spring semester to a four-year university following the completion of her general studies at Cypress. She is looking at several options including University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton. She recalls her interest in journalism manifesting as early as fifth grade when she viewed the controversial box office masterpiece “All the President’s Men” which debuted in 1976 following the resignation of president Richard Nixon. Her inspiration also stems from her personal heroes who include Charles Bukowski, Aldous Huxley, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg, a group she regards as some of the most influential writers of their time. She intends to follow in the footsteps of journalists she considers to be exceptional such as Walter Cronkite and Bob Woodward, whom she believes to be both the standard and epitome of investigative journalism. Her areas of interest range anywhere from baseball, as a born and raised St. Louis Cardinals fan, to the musical varieties of Nirvana and The Doors. With an expected graduation date of June 2017, she hopes to then pursue her masters in journalism and eventually write for a well-known publication such as the Los Angeles Times. Contact the author.
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