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10th Jul 2013, 10:43 AM Inspirations: Kubrick and Hitchcock

Kubrick and Hitchcock

So I’ve been trying to decide for a while what my next inspirations post would be. Since I noticed when I posted the scrip for #9 I mentioned Psycho, I was planning on doing it on Hitchcock. But then I also mentioned 2001: A Space Odyssey and it got me thinking of doing it on Stanley Kubrick. Since I couldn’t pick which was better I decided to do them both at the same time (I may go back and do a separate post on each at later time though).

So let’s see, I’m inspired by both in different ways. I literally grew up on Hitchcock’s films. I guess the biggest thing that jumps out at me about his work is that he just knows how to deliver a story. That’s why he’s commonly referred to as The Master. I also love how he presents the characters in his films. Whether good or evil, they’re always nuanced and interesting. A lot of the villains especially, if you didn’t know anything about them, you’d never know they were the villain at all.

I’m not actually sure when I was introduced to Kubrick. I can remember being very young and seeing a clip from A Clockwork Orange and being completely frightened by it. I guess the first film I saw in its entirety was 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’ve seen it several times since then and I still can’t seem to get it into it. I know it’s supposed to be ambiguous, and I like that idea. But I think in this case, the ambiguity causes the events that happen in the film to have no context with which to exist in. Thus, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about them.

I think the film that uses ambiguity more successfully is The Shining. In this case, even though we are shown images out of context at the beginning of the film (the twins, the river of blood, etc.) they’re meaning is later revealed (or at the very least, the content of the story allows us to give meaning to them).

So I guess the thing I draw the most inspiration from Kubrick is his willingness to take risks and challenge the audience. I also love how specific and carefully crafted they are. Like Lady Gaga’s music videos, I always have a sense that what I’m seeing was chosen for a distinct purpose, even if I have absolutely no idea what that’s supposed to be and there is absolutely no way to figure it out.

When comparing their filmmaking styles, the thing that both directors have the most in common is a strong visual sense. They both relied heavily on the camera to act as the storyteller. Not that the dialogue or the acting was ever unimportant, but where most other directors would chose to fall back on them to carry all the weight of the scene and just let the camera be a neutral observer, these men knew the cameras ability to give light and shading to something.

There’s also an interesting thing I’d like to point out. Hitchcock was British and Kubrick was American. But each one actually favored the filmmaking styles of the other nationality. Kubrick was obviously more interested in abstraction and expressionism, and Hitchcock preferred to be thought of as a commercial filmmaker (which is a much more American idealism). Sure they both identified themselves as makers of cinema. But Hitchcock considered it a technique, for Kubrick it was more of a religion.

I guess there’s a whole lot more to say, or at least not that I have time to go into. So I’ll leave you with a list of favorites from each.

Hitchcock:

Psycho

Strangers on a Train

Dial M for Murder

To Catch a Thief

North by Northwest

Rear Window

Rope

The 39 Steps

Saboteur

Stage Fright

The Man who knew too much

Vertigo

Kubrick:

Paths of Glory

2001: A Space Odyssey (I actually don’t really like this movie but I think you should see it anyway so I’m listing it here)

Dr. Strangelove

The Shining