Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg are two of the biggest names in the world of cinema, known for their unique contributions to many genres such as sci-fi. In fact, Spielberg even considered Kubrick to be one of his greatest mentors and always had length conversations with the revered auteur before he began working on a project.
Kubrick also liked Spielberg’s vision of cinema a lot and even handed him the opportunity to direct A.I. Artificial Intelligence after he had been stuck on the project for a while because he could not find the technology to translate his advanced vision to the cinematic medium. A.I. ended up becoming one of Spielberg’s greatest achievements and solidified his status as a prominent filmmaker.
However, there was one particular Spielberg film that had reportedly irked Kubrick a lot and that was Spielberg’s 1993 historical drama Schindler’s List. It was a very personal project for Spielberg who managed to make a subject as horrifying as The Holocaust accessible to the mainstream audiences who were both moved and educated about the history of Oskar Schindler.
According to the co-writer of Eyes Wide Shut, Frederic Raphael, Kubrick did not like fact that one of the most famous films about The Holocaust focused on Schindler – a German who ended up saving many Jewish refugees. Raphael claimed that Kubrick had this to say about the film: “Think that was about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. Schindler’s List was about six hundred people who don’t”.
Kubrick had his own plans for making a film about The Holocaust but due to the unprecedented success of Schindler’s List, he ended up abandoning the idea. Kubrick was certainly not the only iconic director who hated Schindler’s List, with Jean-Luc Godard commenting: “It means nothing. Nothing is shown, not even the story of this interesting German, Schindler. The story is not told. It is a mixed cocktail.”
When Spielberg read Kubrick’s comments about Schindler’s List in Raphael’s memoir Eyes Wide Open, he publicly expressed his disbelief. “I didn’t recognise the voice of Stanley in that article,” he said and there might be some validity to that claim since Kubrick’s wife Christiane denounced the work as an unreliable biography.