Stanley Kubrick is a regular entry on any filmmaker’s list of influences, and rightly so. His films have simultaneously mesmerised and troubled audiences who always knew that they were watching something really special even if they didn’t always understand what they are watching. Even after all these years, Kubrick’s definitive impact on the world of cinema is an undisputed phenomenon.
Contemporary pioneer Edgar Wright is also one of the countless directors who have sought inspiration from Kubrick’s illustrious filmography. Known for his subversive gems such as Shaun of the Dead, Wright has established himself as one of the most original filmmakers around. He is often counted among the few who still remember the glorious art of visual comedy.
When Wright was asked about his favourite Stanley Kubrick film, he said: “My most profound epiphany in cinema is the moment in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the planets align with the monolith in some galactic equation. The sense of cosmic order floors me every time. But just as Kubrick inspires awe with his harmonic compositions, he can equally instil terror.” Despite the grandeur of 2001, Wright went with another Kubrick classic as his top pick.
“The most chilling aspect of The Shining is the blunt symmetry of endless corridors and patterned carpets,” he continued. “A shot of an empty hall and a lone, red door disturbs you even before the blood starts to flow. It is these graphic images that keep me coming back. I was underwhelmed when I first saw The Shining. Perhaps I wanted the detail and the closure of the novel. But its eccentricity and ambiguity gnawed at me and forced me to rewatch. Its shattering images haunt me to this day.”
Even though Stephen King (the writer of the source novel) and Kubrick disagreed on their interpretations of true evil, Kubrick’s version of The Shining remains relevant due to its masterful techniques and its chilling insistence that humans are grotesque enough to become the real horror. Dismissed at the time of its release, The Shining is now regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made.
While talking about The Shining, Kubrick explained: “It’s what I found so particularly clever about the way the novel was written. As the supernatural events occurred you searched for an explanation, and the most likely one seemed to be that the strange things that were happening would finally be explained as the products of Jack’s imagination.”
Adding, “It’s not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural. The novel is by no means a serious literary work, but the plot is for the most part extremely well worked out, and for a film that is often all that really matters.”
The original plans for the theatrical release of Edgar Wright’s latest project, Last Night in Soho, were delayed by the pandemic, but those schedules are now back on track. It is set for a UK and US to release on October 29 of this year.