With subject matters spanning from space exploration to race-track robberies, Stanley Kubrick’s eclectic filmography remains bafflingly impressive to this very day. His meticulous attention to the most meaningless of details crafted timeless capsules to other worlds and time machines to distant eras.
With only has 13 films to his name, the work spans over his near-50 year career and, in comparison to his peers of directing, his filmography is rather thin. Months of careful, extensive research into the subject matter along with a scrupulous casting and location process meant that pre-production alone could last for a number of years. His lack of urgency likely-led to the eventual quality of the final film, but these constant delays frustrated production companies and led to several ideas given away or left in the realm of imagination.
Steven Spielberg’s A.I – Artificial Intelligence was one of these films, gifted to him from Kubrick after he’d said: “The right guy for this might actually be Spielberg…If I do it, it will be too bleak, too philosophical.”
Considering how bleak A.I is, especially for a Spielberg film, this may have been the right choice with a Kubrick version likely brimming with the same moralistic and sinister musings of 2001’s HAL 9000.
This was joined by Kubrick’s abandoned passion-project about the life and times of military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as a holocaust drama named ‘The Arian Papers’ based on the book, ‘Wartime Lies’ by Louis Begley. Both projects underwent extensive research and pre-production but were abandoned due to factors outside his control, usually simply due to ill-timing.
This exhaustive pre-production can be typified by an interview with the would-be lead actor of ‘The Arian Papers’, Joseph Mazzello, the young boy made famous in Jurassic Park. In a casting interview with Stanley Kubrick, Mazzello said “most of the meeting consisted of him staring at me”, with the director commenting at one point “I’m sorry Joe don’t feel uncomfortable, I’m just looking at you”. Kubrick was, in fact, studying the eyes and general look of Mazzello as to cast the perfect three-year-old version of his character.
Though we may have gotten more of Kubrick if his process hadn’t been as meticulous, the films we do have are masterpieces in their own right. With that being said, we would’ve loved to have seen Kubrick’s A.I…
You can watch the full short documentary on Kubrick’s ‘Unfinished films’ right here: