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Stanley Kubrick in colour: A video essay exploring a dazzling obsession


Stanley Kubrick, the iconic film director, screenwriter, and producer who is regarded by many as one of the most influential filmmakers in cinematic history, developed a unique style during his career which remains unparalleled.

During his career, Kubrick often struggled with the constant breakdown of his work, and hated being drawn into the meaning and philosophy of his films and, at times, compared the understanding of his work to that of popular music. While strong themes of realism, vulnerability and dark humour remain throughout his pictures, Kubrick believed that the viewer’s intuition was what made the philosophy of his work what it was, stating that “emotions and subconscious are far more similar than their intellects.”

Back in 1960, in an interview with Robert Emmett Ginna, Kubrick reflected on having to deal with the retrospective breakdown of his work: “One of the things I always find extremely difficult, when a picture’s finished, is when a writer or a film reviewer asks, ‘Now, what is it that you were trying to say in that picture?’ And without being thought too presumptuous for using this analogy, I like to remember what T. S. Eliot said to someone who had asked him—I believe it was The Waste Land—what he meant by the poem. He replied, ‘I meant what I said.’ If I could have said it any differently, I would have,” he answered somewhat bluntly.

Later, when speaking to Time Magazine in 1975, Kubrick said: “The essence of a dramatic form is to let an idea come over people without it being plainly stated. When you say something directly, it is simply not as potent as it is when you allow people to discover it for themselves.”

He added: “Realism is probably the best way to dramatise argument and ideas. Fantasy may deal best with themes which lie primarily in the unconscious.”

While Kubrick often played down the importance of philosophical ideas and prevalent themes in his work it was, in fact, certain formulas that he continued to carry along with him through most of his most influential works. Filmmaker Rishi Kaneria, who has been a keen admirer and student of Kubrick’s work, created supercut film to explore his repeated use of the colour red.

Now, Marc Anthony Figueras has followed that up by exploring the wider use of colour as a whole across Kubrick’s most well-known feature films. “I wanted to create a display of the whole colour spectrum through most of Kubrick’s films,” he said. “I truly believe that colour is one of the most powerful factors in someone’s psychological build.

“This video was solely made for the purpose of paying tribute to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.”

Enjoy the clip, below.