ALU: Is Eyes Wide Shut an allegory for the decaying society in which we live,
its morals flayed and worn by constant rubbing against greed, selfishness, lies and fatty
SK: "I would not think of quarreling with your interpretation nor offering any
other, as I have found it always the best policy to allow the film to speak for
ALU: Yeah, but I think retiring to the big cinema in the sky to avoid
discussing your last film is a bit drastic. Don’t you want to explain your film and
your intentions or meanings…?
SK: "How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the
bottom of the canvas: 'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.'
This would shackle the viewer to reality. . ."
ALU: That’s interesting; I didn’t realise she was hiding a secret
… Anyway, what about you? What is in Eyes Wide Shut that you want to say?
SK: "I don't think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they
have something they particular want to say. They have something that they feel. And they
like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic
images and working with actors. I don't think that any genuine artist has ever been
oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was."
ALU: Well then, is it true as Time’s Richard Corliss said in his review of
Eyes Wide Shut, that "Kubrick really made the same movie over and over again . . . a
man (or sometimes a group of men), without thinking very hard about it, places his faith
either in his own rationality or in the rationality of the systems by which his world is
governed, whereupon something goes awry . . ."
SK: "I haven't come across any recent new ideas in film that strike me as being
particularly important and that have to do with form. I think that a preoccupation with
originality of form is more or less a fruitless thing. A truly original person with a
truly original mind will not be able to function in the old form and will simply do
something different. Others had much better think of the form as being some sort of
classical tradition and try to work within it."
ALU: Do you feel successful, punk? Well, do ya? (This an ‘in’ joke
for us movie lovers, Stan, no disrespect intended)
SK: "I've never achieved spectacular success with a film. My reputation has grown
slowly. I suppose you could say that I'm a successful filmmaker--in that a number of
people speak well of me. But none of my films have received unanimously positive reviews,
and none have done blockbuster business."
ALU: Did you take lots of drugs during the shoot to enhance your vision and
give you great ideas for the film?
SK: "I believe that drugs are basically of more use to the audience than to the
artist. I think that the illusion of oneness with the universe, and absorption with the
significance of every object in your environment, and the pervasive aura of peace and
contentment is not the ideal state for an artist. It tranquilizes the creative
personality, which thrives on conflict and on the clash and ferment of ideas. The artist's
transcendence must be within his own work; he should not impose any artificial barriers
between himself and the mainspring of his subconscious. One of the things that's turned me
against LSD is that all the people I know who use it have a peculiar inability to
distinguish between things that are really interesting and stimulating and things that
appear to be so in the state of universal bliss that the drug induces on a
"good" trip. They seem to completely lose their critical faculties and disengage
themselves from some of the most stimulating areas of life. Perhaps when everything is
beautiful, nothing is beautiful."
ALU: Your body of work is extremely varied – from Lolita to 2001…What
defining intellectual quest drove you to choose what sort of films to make?
SK: "If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed. A filmmaker has almost
the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper."
ALU: And why this fascination for film? You were keen on drums and photography
at an early age…what appeals about the screen?
SK: "The screen is a
magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and
moods that no other art form can hope to tackle."
ALU: Your film subjects have often involved criminals or soldiers . . . why not
camel drivers or gossip columnists?
SK: "I've got a peculiar weakness for criminals and
artists -- neither takes life as it is. Any tragic story has to be in conflict with things
as they are. The criminal and the soldier at least have the virtue of being against
something or for something in a world where many people have learned to accept a kind of
grey nothingness, to strike an unreal series of poses in order to be considered normal....
It's difficult to say who is engaged in the greater conspiracy--the criminal, the soldier,
ALU: You graduated from high school in 1946 with a 67 average, too low to get
into university – not exactly a scholar, were you?
SK: "I never learned anything at all in school and
didn't read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old. I think the big mistake in
schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation.
Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can
produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a
ALU: What about film school? Would you send young filmmakers to an institution
to learn filmmaking and its associated crafts of deal making, bottom line observing and
gross revenue point scoring?
SK: "Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing
that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie
of any kind at all."
ALU: Well, thanks, Mr Kubrick. I reckon you were something like the title of
your penultimate film, Full Metal Jacket. Technically, it refers to the outer casing, or
jacket, of a bullet. According to screenplay co-author Michael Herr, you picked the title
after reading the phrase in a gun catalog, finding it "beautiful and tough, and kind