Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

8.02 h 26 min20167+
Fascinating footage glimpses Kubrick in his early years, at work on film sets and at home, augmented by candid commentary from colleagues and family.
Jan Harlan
Woody AllenArthur C. ClarkeTom Cruise
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Kier DulleaShelley DuvallNicole KidmanChristine KubrickMalcolm McDowellMatthew ModineJack NicholsonAlan ParkerSydney PollackRichard SchickelMartin ScorseseTerry SemelSteven SpielbergDouglas TrumbullPeter Ustinov
Warner Bros.
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4.7 out of 5 stars

142 global ratings

  1. 77% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 0% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

C. C. BlackReviewed in the United States on March 27, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Very Good Cinematic Biography
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Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) may not be a household name, but he is well-known among cineastes and almost universally admired among his fellow movie directors. Kurosawa considered many of his films "masterpieces"; Welles thought him a genius; Spielberg and Scorcese acknowledge his impact on their work. In his relatively brief life of seventy years, he made only thirteen films, but some of those are minor classics ("The Killing"; "Spartacus"; "Lolita") and others, indisputably great movies ("Paths of Glory"; "Dr. Strangelove"; "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Like Hitchcock, he was a master of cinematic technique and often produced movies with a dreamlike quality; unlike Hitch, he worked vey closely with his actors, moved around in different genres, was far more experimental, and refused to compromise his vision for commercial considerations—the latter, providing occasions of depression for him.

This documentary offers many riches. It introduces you to his very young years, his adolescent and young adult experimentation (and later, employment) as a talented still photographer, and leads the viewer through every one of his thirteen films, as well as some aborted projects. Generous clips from all his films, especially important scenes from his most famous pictures, are collected here in abundance. Home movies (some, by his father of Kubrick as a child) are used. Most valuable are intercut interviews with his collaborators and contemporaries, including Spielberg, Scorcese, Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Shelly Duvall, Tom Cruise (who narrates the film), his wife, and one of his daughters. The picture that emerges from their perceptive comments merges with their subject's movies: a complex, sensitive, compassionate, hard-edged artist and family man with a dark view of humanity.

This documentary has some shortcomings. It is a three-in one portmanteau: three fifty-minute segments with fresh beginnings and endings, threaded into a single film. That makes for disjointed viewing that, I doubt, would have pleased Kubrick himself. I would also have appreciated a deeper dive into the offscreen life and thought of one who made such movies: an unfair criticism, perhaps, for a workaholic who was an extraordinarily reticent interviewee and whose life was dominated by filmmaking. Still and all, I left this aptly named "A Life in Pictures" with a greater appreciation of one of cinema's masters.
One person found this helpful
ParkerReviewed in the United States on December 6, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Lots of footage from his greatest films
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I am a fan of Stanley Kubrick films and this documentary was recommended to me by a likeminded friend. First, know that this is about 20 years old. It doesn’t really matter except that the resolution of the movie isn’t great. Also, this is broken into installments. My guess is it originally aired for television, which would explain the old TV formatting. The content is fantastic, however. I found it particularly interesting to see Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise featured in the same documentary, pre-divorce. I loved hearing the commentary from Jack Nicholson and Martin Scorsese, too. The additional footage of A Clockwork Orange and the Shining we’re of particular interest to me. I found I was also fascinated by the comments from his immediate family members (wife and daughter). Their inclusion in the documentary transported him from mythical creature to brilliant but fallible man, husband, father.

I very much recommend this documentary!
2 people found this helpful
Easy GoerReviewed in the United States on November 26, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Must See Documentary of the 20th Century's Greatest Film Maker
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This is a brilliant documentary of the greatest film director of the 20th Century. It is especially fresh, as it was made and released May 2nd, 2001; only 2 years after his death on March 7th, 1999. He had/has no equal. He never made a film of the same genre; please note "Paths of Glory" (1957) and "Full Metal Jacket" (1978) are both about war; the former is an anti-war film and the latter a truly brilliant war film. An IQ said to be well over 200, he took risks no one else would take and virtually all of his films from "Lolita" (1961) on were surrounded by controversy. Narrated by Tom Cruise, this takes you from his childhood throughout his life until his death in 1999. It has clips from every film he made, and interviews with actors from each film (whenever possible, as a couple have no living actors). The very revealing interviews are a who's who of directors, actors, cinematographers, writers, producers, etc., plus his family and childhood friends. To name a few, directors like Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, actors like Nicholson, Malcolm McDowell (he had the role of a lifetime as the star of "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) numerous writers, cinematographers, and all the key people who worked for him on films. I believe the greatest of all ironies regarding The Academy Awards is the fact that Stanley Kubrick NEVER won an award for Best Director; whilst so many people who worked and acted in his films did win in their respective fields won Academy Awards. The only "Oscar" Kubrick ever won was for Best Visual Effects for "2001" (1968). However, he did win the highly coveted DGA Award (Director's Guild of America). He was not able to be present to receive the award, but sent a taped acceptance speech which was gracious and is also very "Kubrickian" (not an original term, but appropriate). I have seen it, but I forget where. I am sure it is on one of the Bluray copies of Kubrick's films. Another thing I like is delivered by Jack Nicholson, when asked about Kubrick. Nicholson replied (please excuse my paraphrasing) "Everyone acknowledges he (Kubrick) is the man, and that is really an understatement". It is chock full not only of scenes from all the films he made, but also includes scenes and information about films he didn't make. He always wanted to make a film about Napoleon. He had made extraordinary preparations for the film (for example, he had 10,000 uniforms made; half were made of paper for the troops very far away), but shelved it. The one film I truly wish he has made was to be called "The Aryan Papers" about a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis in WWII. As with Napoleon, he had gone to extreme lengths of preparation; however, once he heard Spielberg had begun shooting "Schindler's List", he shelved it as well. He knew both stories could not be told simultaneously. I even had a short-lived resentment against Spielberg. Take nothing away from "Schindler" and Spielberg, as it is a terrific film; probably the one he is most proud of. I truly believe Kubrick's film would have been better, but we will never know. Spielberg loved Kubrick and who knows (?), he may have had his own thoughts about this. I like what director and sometime actor Sydney Pollack mentions, the term "perfectionist is used often about some directors; it usually means someone is a pain in the ass". He does go on to say "Stanley (Kubrick) is the only true 1000% perfectionist". Whether you are a casual fan of Kubrick's films or an ultimate, almost obsessed fan (like me; I own all 13 feature length films he made, plus a couple of shorts), this is an absolute must see documentary. I will stop here, as I could go on indefinitely about my favorite director.
6 people found this helpful
Crazy SvenReviewed in the United States on January 2, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent Stanley Kubrick Bio
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Stanley Kubrick was perhaps the greatest hero of the cinematic arts. He began as a photographer and was quite good at it. They say a picture can be worth a thousand words and Kubrick needed more than that, so he moved on into motion pictures. Cinema gave him the chance to really excel and was able to fill every scene with more content than ever believed possible. The images on the screen were like countless thousands of still images and he exploited that to the fullest. Beyond the acting and plot, he embedded symbolism and imagery in his movies as well. With the ability to create that thousand words per image, he went on to create masterpieces, so enigmatic and fascinating, that few have even come close to really understanding his films completely. This is one of the best documentaries that I have seen about him yet. Excellent work!
3 people found this helpful
T. SniderReviewed in the United States on December 2, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A very enjoyable portrait of Stanley Kubrick
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A very enjoyable film for Stanley Kubrick fans like me. The one star deduction was just due to the fact that I felt there could have been more people interviewed but it was still a good selection of interviews. I would highly recommend also watching "Filmworker" for an even more intimate look at someone I believe is the greatest film director of all time. Both films are a must see for Kubrick fans.
2 people found this helpful
Michael AndrewsReviewed in the United States on April 11, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
An intimate look at a film master
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Love him or hate him, the late film director Stanley Kubrick had a very unique voice in 20th Century film cinema. From Dr Strangelove, to 2001 A Space Odyssey, to A Clockwork Orange, to The Shining to his final film Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick displayed a wide, epic scope and breadth to his stories. They werent just films, they were events. Not many people liked or maybe understood his overall directing tactics or his overdrawn style, and sometimes that even included the people he worked with on his movies, but at the exact same time, you ended up respecting and deeply admiring his vision.

I grew up watching 2001 on tv as a kid, and for the life of me, I'm still hard pressed to say I completely get it, but I love the visuals and the audacity he had to at least create it, and I love it in spite of myself, and I deeply admire and love the nihilistic attitude of Strangelove and Clockwork, the brutality of war shown in Full Metal Jacket, the twisty turns and bizarre revelations of a supposedly solid marriage in Eyes Wide Shut, and his untimely death in 1999 saddens me and others because we're left wondering what other stories he mightve had planned to tell. One thing's for sure...there'll never be another voice quite like his.
5 people found this helpful
Southpaw88Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fantastic Insight About The Greatest Director
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It was done so well that I didn't even mind Tom Cruise narrating it. Kubrick's view of the world is fascinating.
Obviously we will never fully understand Kubrick's mind but this Docu give us some glimpse and clues.
FredReviewed in the United States on June 16, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Love it <3
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Here is the documentary i wanted to film in 1996 but Stanley was too elusive for me. So three cheers for a wonderfully crafted documentary of a one of a kind master filmmaker. :)

P.S. Another great documentary on Stanley is "Stanley Kubrick's Boxes". Not sure where to find it for purchase.
Also see great and intelegent interviews here at Movie Geeks United YouTube page.
also Staircases to Nowhere
also the making of the shining.
also 2001: The Making of a Myth
2 people found this helpful
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