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New book chronicles Stanley Kubrick's stunning 1952 Venice debut


Known as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Akira Kurosawa, Andrei Tarkovsky and more, Stanley Kubrick remains a prominent figure in cinema despite 23 years having passed since his death. Helming such films as the iconic sci-fi 2001: A Space Odyssey and the horror classic The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson, there’s just one film that the director himself disowns, with that being his very first. 

First screening the war movie Fear and Desire during the Venice International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia in 1952, the screening of the film, originally called Shape of Fear, took part in the section of the competition named Festival of the Scientific Film and Art Documentary.

The story of how Kubrick’s film made it to the festival has been entirely reconstructed for the first time in letters and documents preserved in the Historical Archives of the Contemporary Arts (ASAC). This was put together through the publication of the historical volume called La Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, a new book by Professor Gian Piero Brunetta that will be presented on Saturday, July 9th during the conference to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Venice Film Festival.

This stunning preservation of cinema history gives us invaluable insight into the life and work of the American filmmaker who grew to become one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. 

Kubrick wasn’t much of a fan of his debut, however, denouncing his work as a “a bumbling amateur film exercise” and a “completely inept oddity”. Kubrick even went to the extent that he compared Fear and Desire to “a child’s drawing on a fridge”, disowning the film soon after its release whilst trying to prevent any future re-releases. 

Take a look at the trailer for the classic film, below.