Steven Spielberg has drawn inspiration from a wide variety of sources over the course of his filmmaking career, ranging from the westerns of John Ford to the comedies of Jacques Tati. One of those major influences was none other than the American auteur Stanley Kubrick whose films Spielberg admired and studied for years.
“Kubrick films tend to grow on you,” Spielberg once explained. “You have to see them more than once.” That was certainly the case when he watched The Shining for the first time, failing to understand why it didn’t work for him. Spielberg had gone into the screening with the intention of falling in love with the film but it failed to impress him the first time. With time and repeated viewings, it became one of his favourite films of all time.
Having said that, The Shining still wasn’t his favourite Stanley Kubrick film and he like other projects made by the director such as A Clockwork Orange. He described it as “the first punk rock movie ever made,” claiming that the film’s dystopian vision was simultaneously audacious and dangerous. According to Spielberg, the film now reflects the reality we live in.
However, Spielberg’s favourite film made by Kubrick was his 1968 magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey which changed the sci-fi genre forever. A fantastic audiovisual meditation on human history, evolution, modernity, technology and post-humanism, 2001’s impact on the cinematic medium can hardly be exaggerated by anyone.
“The way the story is told is antithetical to the way we were accustomed to seeing stories,” Spielberg commented while talking about the masterpiece. The director revealed that he had regular conversations with Kubrick during his final years and the ageing auteur had told him that he wanted to change the form of cinema. Spielberg replied: “Well, didn’t you with 2001?”.
Spielberg still revisits 2001 from time to time, always before making a sci-project himself. He has admitted that Kubrick’s films are notoriously difficult cinematic experiences but Spielberg pointed out that they are impossible to turn off. That is certainly the case with 2001 as well which is an unforgettable spiritual experience for most audiences. This was the only Stanley Kubrick film Spielberg included in his top 20 list, alongside the likes of Citizen Kane and The 400 Blows.