Stanley Kubrick

American filmmaker (1928–1999)

Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American movie director. Kubrick is thought to have been one of the great directors of the 20th century.

Stanley Kubrick
A black and white photograph of a bearded Kubrick dressed in a jacket. He is gesturing with his hand while standing above a large camera.
Kubrick filming Barry Lyndon, c. 1973–74
Born(1928-07-26)July 26, 1928
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 7, 1999(1999-03-07) (aged 70)
Childwickbury, England
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • photographer
Toba Metz
(m. 1948⁠–⁠1951)
(m. 1955⁠–⁠1957)
(m. 1958)
Children2, including Vivian
Stanley Kubrick's signature

He was born in New York City but lived most of his life in England. His movies are respected for their great amount of detail and symbolism. Some of his movies were controversial when they were first shown. For example, the sex and violence in his movie A Clockwork Orange was very disturbing to many people who saw it when it was released in 1971. The reaction to the movie in the United Kingdom became so great that Stanley Kubrick stopped showing the movie there for over 25 years. Other famous movies that Kubrick made include Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining. Stanley Kubrick died from a heart attack on March 7, 1999.

Stanley Kubrick's filmmaking style is characterized by meticulous attention to detail, iconic imagery, a unique and uncompromising vision, a wide range of genres, symmetrical framing, use of music, subtle satire, memorable characters, and bold stylistic choices, leaving a profound impact on cinema.[1]

Early life and work


Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City and grew up in the Bronx during his youth. Stanley was a poor student in school but his father, who was a doctor, taught Stanley how to play chess and gave him a camera. Kubrick finished high school in 1946 and could not get into a college. This was because of his poor grades in school and because colleges were full with many American soldier's who returned from World War II that same year. During this time, Kubrick played games of chess with people for money. He was a good chess player and won many games. He used the money he won from playing chess to buy food and photography equipment. Kubrick got a job at a magazine in New York City that was called Look Magazine. Kubrick also enjoyed watching movies and thought that he could make better movies than the movies that were being made at the time. He first made two small documentaries. One of them was about a boxer and was called Day of the Fight. The other documentary was about a religious man and was called Flying Padre. He then made two full-length movies (called feature films) that made other people interested in his work. The first feature film was called Fear and Desire and the other was called Killer's Kiss. His third feature film, called The Killing, was a success. The success of The Killing allowed Stanley to work on a bigger movie, called Paths of Glory, that was about World War I and was made with the famous actor Kirk Douglas. At this time Kubrick became well known in the movie industry and had started to create his own style.

Big movies




After Stanley Kubrick completed Paths of Glory, he worked on a big Hollywood movie named Spartacus in 1960. The movie is about a gladiator who fights Rome. It made a lot of money and was a success but Kubrick did not enjoy working on it. He did not enjoy working on it because of problems he had with the other people working on the movie who controlled it. Kubrick desired to have a lot of control in making his movies, and after making Spartacus he only worked on movies that he had full control over.



Kubrick moved to the United Kingdom in 1962, to make his next movie, Lolita. He liked the United Kingdom very much and decided to live there for the rest of his life. The movie Lolita was the first movie that Kubrick made that created a lot of controversy. The movie was based upon a book by the Russian author Vladimir Nabokov that was also very controversial at the time. The movie shows the relationship between a very young woman and an older man. This is a forbidden topic in the United States and most of the world.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


For the movie Lolita, Kubrick hired the talented and famous actor Peter Sellers. Kubrick respected Peter's acting and asked him to act as three different characters in Kubrick's next movie, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which was released in 1963. Dr. Strangelove was a comedy but it was about very serious topics. These are called black comedies. The movie was about the Cold War and was very controversial but also very successful. The movie had a large cultural influence and created some images that became very famous in the years to follow. The most famous image from the movie was of an American pilot sitting on a nuclear bomb as it fell to earth from an airplane.

Kubrick's success with Dr Strangelove convinced the movie studios that he was talented and that he could be trusted to make good, popular movies. Kubrick entered into a positive relationship with the movie studio, Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers gave him almost full artistic control on all of the movies he was to make in the future. A director being given so much control is rare. Such directors are called "auteurs".

2001: A Space Odyssey


Kubrick took five years to develop and plan his next movie. It was a science fiction movie called 2001: A Space Odyssey and it was released in 1968. Kubrick based the movie on a short story called "The Sentinel" that was written by the science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. Kubrick worked with Arthur C. Clarke to make the movie. The movie used many new ideas and techniques and had special effects that no other movie at the time had. The great special effects used in the movie won Kubrick his first and only Oscar award. 2001 was made during the end of the 1960s and was very popular with members of the Hippie Counterculture. This was because of the movies strange and dream-like visuals. When the movie was released it was both loved and hated by many movie critics. Many of the movie critics who did not like the movie when they saw it in 1968 have changed their opinions. Some of them have written a second, positive review of the movie many years later.

A Clockwork Orange


His next movie was one of his most famous and also his most controversial. The movie was titled A Clockwork Orange and was released in 1971. The movie was darker than 2001 and was originally released with an "X" motion picture rating in the US. The movie was based on a novel of the same title by the author Anthony Burgess. The novel and movie are about a criminal who is given a new and experimental 'cure' for his violent nature. The story asks questions about how society defines morality. The movie had an amount of sex and violence that was not often seen in big Hollywood movies at the time. The controversy of the movie increased when other people copied some of the acts that were committed by the characters in the movie. Kubrick and his family received violent threats from people, called death threats. These threats were serious enough that Kubrick took the movie out of theaters in Britain. The movie was not shown again in Britain until the year 2000, after Kubrick's death.

Barry Lyndon


Kubrick's next movie was to going to be about Napoleon but he canceled it after another similar movie was released before his own. Kubrick worked very hard researching and learning about Napoleon and about the world at that time. Kubrick chose to make another movie set in that time that was titled Barry Lyndon. The movie was based a book by William Makepeace Thackeray and was about an 18th-century gambler named Barry Lyndon. The movie was not as well liked as his previous movies but, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it convinced people over time.

After Barry Lyndon, Kubrick made movies at a much slower rate than before. He only made three more movies in the next twenty-five years. He was still very popular and respected. Each of the movies he released became an event that many people waited for and celebrated.

The Shining


The Shining was Kubrick's next movie. It was based on the book of the same name by the American author, Stephen King and was released in 1980. It was a horror movie and starred Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. The movie was one of Kubrick's most mainstream movies and was very popular. It was different from the other horror movies at the time and the catch phrase, "Here's Johnny!" (which was also used on the TV's The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson at the time) was made very popular after Jack Nicholson's character said it during an important scene in the movie. The author of the book Stephen King hated the movie and did not like that Kubrick changed many things from the book. King made his own version, a TV mini-series in 1997, which was much more like the book.

Full Metal Jacket


Full Metal Jacket was Kubrick's next movie and was released in 1987. It was one of several movies that were made in the 1980s that were about the Vietnam War. The movie was most famous for its drill instructor character, played by R. Lee Ermey, who was very cruel to his soldiers. After the movie was released, the United States Armed Forces changed some of its rules about how their drill instructors should behave.

Eyes Wide Shut


Eyes Wide Shut was Kubrick's last movie and was released in 1999. He completed editing the movie just before his death in March. The movie starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were married to each other in real-life at the time. It was based on the novel Traumnovelle by the Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler. The movie took over 16 consecutive months (a world record) to complete and was released in July 1999. According to R. Lee Ermey, of Full Metal Jacket Fame, Kubrick revealed to him that he was rather disappointed with his work. Kubrick supposedly went further, saying that both Kidman and Cruise "had their way with" him. Apparently a reference to a clashing of large-Hollywood personas to Kubrick's more reserved demeanor.

Kubrick's death and influence


Just a few days after completing the editing of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick died from a heart attack in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

In the year 2001, the American movie director Steven Spielberg filmed A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. A.I was a movie that Stanley Kubrick had worked on before Eyes Wide Shut, but did not finish. Steven Spielberg based his movie on Kubrick's plans. The movie received a poor response from audiences and did not make as much money as expected. The movie was thought to be more Spielberg's movie than Kubrick's movie.

Movies he made (Filmography)


Awards and nominations


All of Stanley Kubrick's later movies, except for The Shining, were nominated for Oscars or Golden Globes. 2001: A Space Odyssey had many technical awards, including a BAFTA award for cinematographer and an Academy Award for best visual effects. As director of special effects on the movie, Kubrick got the award. This was Kubrick's only personal Oscar win among 13 nominations. Nominations for his movies were mostly in the areas of cinematography, art design, screenwriting, and music. Only four of his movies were nominated by either an Oscar or Golden Globe for their acting performances: Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, and A Clockwork Orange.

Personal awards for Kubrick:

Year Title Awards (limited to Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Saturns and Razzies)
1953 Fear and Desire
1955 Killer's Kiss Won: Locarno International Film Festival Prize: Best Director
1956 The Killing Nominated for BAFTA Award: Best Film from Any Source
1957 Paths of Glory
1960 Spartacus Won Golden Globe: Best Drama Picture, Nominated Golden Globe: Best Director
Nominated for BAFTA Award: Best Film from Any Source
1962 Lolita Nominated for Oscar: Best Adapted Screenplay (Kubrick's extensive work on this was uncredited- the nominee was Vladimir Nabokov)
Nominated for Golden Globes: Best Director
1964 Dr. Strangelove Nominated for Oscars: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
Won BAFTA Awards: Best British Film, Best Film from any Source, Nominated BAFTA: Best British Screenplay (nomination shared with Peter George and Terry Southern)
1968 2001: A Space Odyssey Won Oscar : Best Special Effects
Nominated for Oscars: Best Director, Best Original Screenplay (nomination shared with Arthur C. Clarke)
Nominated for BAFTA: Best Film
1971 A Clockwork Orange Nominated for Oscars: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated for Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Drama Picture
Nominated for BAFTA Awards: Best Direction, Best Film, Best Screenplay
Won 2 recognitions by The New York Film Critics: Best Director, Best Picture
1975 Barry Lyndon Nominated for Oscars : Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Drama Picture
Won BAFTA Award: Best Direction Nominated: Best Film
1980 The Shining Nominated for Razzie: Worst Director
Nominated for Saturn: Best Director
1987 Full Metal Jacket Nominated for Oscar: Best Adapted Screenplay (nomination shared with Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford)
1999 Eyes Wide Shut

Kubrick received two awards from major film festivals: "Best Director" from the Locarno International Film Festival in 1959 for Killer's Kiss, and "Bastone Bianco Award" at the Venice Film Festival in 1999 for Eyes Wide Shut. The Venice Film Festival awarded him the "Career Golden Lion" in 1997. He received the D.W. Griffith Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America, and another life-achievement award from the Director's Guild of Great Britain, and the Career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival. In 2000 he received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award. After he died, the Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival awarded him the "Honorary Grand Prize" for life achievement in 2008. He also received the Hugo Award three times for his work in science fiction.[2]


  1. "10 Signature Elements of Stanley Kubrick's Filmmaking Style!". Critic Film. Retrieved October 21, 2023.
  2. "The Hugo Awards: Search Results: Kubrick". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved October 28, 2011.

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