Movie Books: The Stanley Kubrick Archives - Reviewed

It goes without saying the legendary and late American director Stanley Kubrick is my filmmaking idol.  Spanning a 48 year career the distinguished auteur made my two favorite films, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, and remains one of the most important visual artists the cinematic medium has ever known.  Over the years countless biographies of the man’s life story as a filmmaker and analytical breakdowns of his oeuvre have circulated with debatable accuracy versus speculation about the mercurial and reclusive director.  

Since Kubrick’s untimely death in 1999, rumors began brewing about the extensive backlog of archives stored in boxes in the vaults of the director’s estate.  From his unrealized Napoleon project, unused conceptual art and deleted materials, the cornucopia of all the materials in the creative process leading to the impeccable masterworks Kubrick so elegantly fashioned in celluloid form is at once a legendary treasure trove and important chunk of film history of one of the greatest filmmakers of our time.  Of all the books dedicated to anything and everything Stanley Kubrick related, only one comes fully prepared and authorized directly from his estate: the hardbound, massive fourteen pound coffee-table book The Stanley Kubrick Archives

Made with the full participation of Kubrick’s widow Christiane Kubrick and brother-in-law Jan Harlan and released through elite publisher Taschen, the once dim glimmer inside Kubrick’s archives is now a fully-fledged reality with an exquisite, beyond comprehensive package that at once evokes the auteur’s filmography through still images and dives head over heels deep within every aspect of the director’s creative process with countless materials to rifle through.  The first initial pressings of the book included a seventy minute recorded interview with Kubrick as well as a 12 frame film strip of 2001: A Space Odyssey taken directly from the director’s very own 70mm print and sold for the hundreds before quickly becoming a collector’s item online.  Not long after a slightly pared down version of the book without the film strip was released in the $70 range, meanwhile an even more condensed version slated for release on October 1st will debut at $20.  

Whichever version you pick up, everything you ever wanted to know about Stanley Kubrick’s professional and personal life, before, during and after the height of his career is all here for the cherry picking and is one of the finest books on film you can possibly own!  Printed on glossy high quality paper with a protective hardcover jacket, there's so much material here including but not limited to open letters to the press, collections of script notes, storyboards, behind-the-scenes photos and insight into the developmental process, it’ll take you a lifetime to get through it all.  While I myself wasn't able to get my hands on the first pressing with the film strip included, the book itself is a thoroughly satisfying package for the dedication and obvious love its makers had for the artist and his work in question.  For Kubrick completists, it’s a must have item that represents one of the most thorough indulgences into the art and life of a great director that’s ever been produced!  

- Andrew Kotwicki

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