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How Stanley Kubrick inspired an Arctic Monkeys classic


Certain creative forces transcend the body of their work. They reach out from whatever they are doing and benevolently meddle with the art that follows. The sheer visionary scope, uncompromising intent and zealous originality of Stanley Kubrick have forever proved creatively infectious. 

When it comes to Alex Turner’s songwriting, he has always weaved a yarn like an auteur director. Although this might have been a bit more rough and ready in the early days, he neither lacked refinement then nor has he lost a visceral edge now. However, the marked difference in his songwriting has come from the scope of influence that he draws upon.

Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino was a record that saw him encompass influences as far-ranging as The Strokes, the French filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder and monster trucks. There are a slew of both direct and nebulous influences on the record, but if you dusted it down for prints, you’d find Kubrick’s grubby mitts all over it. 

Both the oeuvre of deep space and lunar leisure that forms the backbone of the record’s concept comes straight from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but aside from that overarching imprint, a specific Kubrick technique lies behind ‘One Point Perspective’. 

Speaking to Radio X, Alex Turner described how Kubrick’s cinematic technique of using ‘one point perspective’ influenced the Arctic Monkeys track of the same name. “Yeah, ‘One Point Perspective’ comes specifically from the work of Stanley Kubrick,” the Sheffield songsmith declared. 

“It’s a composition of a shot where all the lines in the image seem to be pointing towards the centre point and the subject is then in the centre,” he continued, staggering towards some artistic sense as is his interview style. “It gives a film something ominous — although Wes Anderson uses it very differently – I’m trying to get that Stanley Kubrick one point perspective when I decided to call my song it, there is this sensation (sic)… of y’know… it’s unsettling.”

Much like Stanley Kubrick’s movies, with ‘One Point Perspective’ and Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, Alex Turner has crafted an alternate world, but the beauty of this escapism in both cases is that the distorted reality is reflective of society by proxy. Turner’s world might be a surreal fiction, but lines like “just as the apocalypse gets prioritised” hold a mirror to the hard truths of industrialism in the same way that 2001: A Space Odyssey shot a creative warning flare regarding the overbearing rise of technology on society. 

As Turner said himself, the sci-fi-Kubrick-inspired reality that he crafted offered a visionary conduit for the songs to flow towards, “Science fiction creates these other worlds within which we can explore our own, and I wanted to write something about that idea. So, through reading sci-fi books and watching films like Fassbinder’s World on a Wire, I began to access that sort of vocabulary – then suddenly we’re talking about virtual reality moon casino experiences.”

As if to elucidate this point even further, Turner captures his intent with the meta lyric in the track ‘Science Fiction’: “I wanna make a simple point about peace and love / But in a sexy way where it’s not obvious / Highlight dangers and send out hidden messages / The way some science fiction does.” You’d struggle to get more Kubrick than that.

The result is a masterful album, and friend of the band, Guy Garvey of Elbow, took his praise of the heavily Kubrick inspired ‘One Point Perspective’ a step further and declared it “the best thing that [Alex Turner] has ever written.”