Things have changed since my appearance in the documentary Room 237. I moved away from New York to Los Angeles. I got a job there, writing. It was hell. I moved back to New York. I got another job, driving a truck for a moving company. It’s better to be in motion. I am in storage facilities…
One of the first things we did together was get the rights to “Eyes Wide Shut.” It’s called “Traumnovelle” and he was very much in love with that story, but it proved to be just too difficult, so he dropped it. He had already a contract with Warner Brothers ready to go and he pulled out. He chewed over it for thirty years. When he finally made it he really considered it his greatest contribution to the art of filmmaking. Many people wouldn’t agree with him but that doesn’t really matter. - Jan Harlan
I knew he was quite proud of the movie, but I never realized it was to this degree. I’d be curious to know more details around the “final cut” of the movie. Everything I’ve read has suggested it was not finished before he passed away and a little work remained to be done. It’d be interesting to know exactly what those details were.
Of all Kubrick’s movies, this is the one people most often tell me they were disappointed by — mostly these would be people who saw it during its initial run in 1999. And also these are people who liked his other movies. But, there is a strong counter-current of fans who say it is their favorite movie of his.
Myself, I took the day off from work and saw the 10am show over on the East Side — it would have to be a Wednesday or a Friday which is when movies open — and then right afterwards, from a payphone, I called one of my friends up at work to make sure there were no “work emergencies” going on, but also to give her a report — which was that I was left feeling kind of stunned and sandbagged and not knowing which way was up — but that was normal for a Kubrick movie. (I think she and I and another co-worker had recently seen a Kubrick retrospective at the Queens Museum of the Moving Image and I had been shocked at how badly the prints had degraded — there was a strong cast of magenta over everything in “Barry Lyndon” and “The Shining”. It was HORRIBLE! Thank God for DVDs!)
Perhaps right then I was not SURE that I totally loved “Eyes Wide Shut” — that was NOT normal. I think I was also a little depressed in it being brought home to me that Stanley was no more and that this would be the last premiere of his I would ever get to see in my whole life.
I then bought an NY Times at a street dispenser and, not unlike Dr. Hartford, read it with a coffee and a bagel at a small cafe.
I remember being very grateful to and impressed by Janet Maslin for giving the movie such a positive and thoughtful review after just one viewing.
Then I went back and saw it again at the afternoon show.
Sources close to Kubrick say (I think they are Vitali, Frewin, Herr) say that he would never have screened it for the execs and Tom and Nicole if he didn’t consider it, for all intents and purposes, finished, but also that he probably would have trimmed it some more after that, as he was quite ruthless in that way with his other films.
Also, he wouldn’t have used the digitally inserted figures to ensure the R rating, he would have just chosen a different camera angle.
But the people left in charge did not want to change the movie at ALL because it was Kubrick’s last cut and it was considered sacred.
So it seems to me that in the more permissive market of the home DVD, those figures have been removed and therefore we do have Kubrick’s final cut just as he left it.
Regarding the Jan Harlan article — unlike him, I love “Room 237” — were it not for that movie, I would not be writing this blog now (or be doing a Stanley Kubrick Meetup, or any of it) — and consider it a great tribute to Kubrick in that it shows “The Shining” acted magnificently upon its audience in one of the ways he wanted it to — the encouragement of “magical thinking”, as in Fraser’s “The Golden Bough”. This is a universal human trait. It certainly acted that way upon me as well!
Granted, “Room 237” could not have been done while Kubrick was alive — but we would not have the Stanley Kubrick Archives either. And thank God for them too! (and of course to Jan and Christiane for their stewardship of them!)
But also another quote sticks out to me (bolding mine):
The exhibit is fantastic. The whole exhibition was created because of the film institute in Frankfurt. We were very resistant because why Germany? Kubrick really had nothing to do with Germany; it should have really been New York or London where such an exhibition should open because these were his two cities. But nobody came from New York and nobody came from London to this very day. So Frankfurt pushed very hard, and finally the federal government came and guaranteed certain funding because they thought that Kubrick - it was irrelevant that he was American or lived in England, he was a world artist like Picasso or Beethoven, it didn’t matter. He was a really important artist of his generation. I’m sure it will come back to America. But it should really come to New York. But nobody wants it.
It really should come to MoMA. That is the right place and the best place and it would be unbelievably popular. So here is the Stanley Kubrick Meetup’s first non-negotiable demand:
Bring the Stanley Kubrick Archives Exhibit to MoMA!
The official web site of Arthur Leipzig (1918- ), American photographer perhaps best known for his photo essays on New York life in the 1940’s and 50’s.
Hey guys, sorry for being MIA, but I highly suggest checking out Arthur Leipzig’s photography; a lot of the popular photos posted here were taken by him. And the really cool thing is that he’s still alive today, at 95 years old!