Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker

Yale Univ. Aug. 2020. 248p. ISBN 9780300224405. $26. FILM
Stanley Kubrick (1928–99) has been the subject of numerous biographies and film-specific commentaries; this new volume in Yale’s “Jewish Lives” series offers a concise yet informative look at each of the director’s feature films. Mikics’s (English, Univ. of Houston) background as a literary critic shines through in his nuanced approach to themes that carry through Kubrick’s work, such as hubris and male frustration. And despite the brevity of the book, the author draws parallels between unrealized projects, such as Burning Secret and Napoleon, and the films that eventually bore their imprints, including Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut. Mikics conducted numerous interviews with Kubrick’s family, friends, and colleagues, and his combination of original commentary and existing criticism makes for an excellent point of entry for the Kubrick newcomer. This is also an interesting volume for the “Jewish Lives” series, as Kubrick was famously not a practicing Jew—despite remaining culturally Jewish—and notably removed many Jewish references from source material he used for his films.
VERDICT An engaging and well-researched primer to the work of a cinematic legend.

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