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Warner's 'Kubrick Collection' DVD Opens Eyes on June 12

7 May, 2001 By: John Jimenez

Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was known for, among other things, always being on the cutting edge. When the cutting-edge technology of DVD was born, Kubrick largely embraced it because in Europe, “for the first time, the next generation could see [Kubrick’s] films without that horrible dubbing,” says Jan Harlan, longtime Kubrick friend and creator of the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures.

The documentary is included in Warner Home Video’s The Stanley Kubrick Collection, released together with eight Kubrick titles on June 12 (prebook May 15) for $199.92 on DVD and $149.92 on VHS.

Aside from the multiple-language options, most of the Kubrick DVDs are somewhat bare in terms of extras, to the dismay of many of his fans. Kubrick always “wanted the film to speak for itself,” says longtime associate Leon Vitali, which is why there are no commentaries and never any outtakes.

And many of his films are presented full-frame or with some unfamiliar ratio, because Kubrick wanted the films viewed as he saw them through the camera, not as they were presented on the big screen.

In the documentary, however, there are loads of interviews, rare footage of early films and insight about the enigmatic filmmaker, though still no outtakes.

“I had much, much more material than I could possibly put in the documentary,” says Harlan, who, when deciding how to compose the 140-minute film, tried to “do things so we can face Stanley if we have to.” Kubrick died in 1999.

“This would not have been possible during his life,” says Harlan, who says Kubrick was “very private.”

But much of what people think about him is misleading, says Vitali. “He was not a recluse,” he says. “He would get in his car, do his shopping…. He was a normal human being.” Those who did know him have memories of a man who loved animals and was a sports freak. Harlan recounts a story of the two of them years ago watching a tennis match between John McEnroe and Boris Becker, after which Kubrick remarked, “How could anybody prefer a movie?”

Kubrick preferred as much control over a film as possible. “Stanley was a brilliant editor,” Harlan says. “Our editors knew they were basically assistant editors.”

Kubrick was fine with criticism of his films, says Harlan, but didn’t like it when the critics got personal. “He would have been so upset with a lot of the Eyes Wide Shut stuff,” says Harlan. Kubrick died shortly after the film was finished. One thing many didn’t understand about the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman starrer, Harlan says, is that it was “not supposed to be erotic or sensual; it was supposed to be sick.”

Like most of Kubrick’s work, the opinions of his final film ranged from brilliant to terrible.

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