Stop Worrying

"The most important parts of a film," he said, "are the mysterious parts-- beyond the reach of reason and language."

"When I asked him about the apparent change in his films--from the early, more conventional dramas to the stylistic experiments of "2001" and later films, with their emphasis on images and music--Kubrick said, "There may be a change in the films but it doesn't mean there is any personal change in me. What happens in the film business is something like this: when a scriptwriter or director starts out, producers and investors want to see everything written down. They judge the worth of a screenplay as they would a stage play, and ignore the very great differences between the two. They want good dialogue, tight plotting, dramatic development. What I have found is that the more completely cinematic a film is, the less interesting the screenplay becomes. Because a screenplay isn't meant to be read, it's to be realized on film.

"So if my earlier films seem more verbal than the later ones, it is because I was obliged to conform to certain literary conventions. Then, after some success, I was given greater freedom to explore the medium as I preferred. There'll be no screenplay of 'Barry Lyndon' published, because there is nothing of literary interest to read."

Kubrick's point is well taken. There is a scene in "Barry Lyndon," for example, which in Kubrick's screenplay simply read, "Barry duels with Lord Bullingdon." Just that, nothing more. Yet what finally reached the screen is one of the most stunning sequences in modern film. The scene runs about six minutes and if little happens in terms of actual content--three shots are fired and Barry is wounded in the leg by his stepson--a great deal happens in terms of style. It took six weeks--42 working days--just to edit the sequence. To find the music--Handel's "Sarabande"--Kubrick listened to every available recording of 17th and 18th-century music that he could acquire, literally thousands of LPs. What he achieves in such moments of the film might be called cinematic gestalts--inspired combinations of words, images, music and editing rhythms, creating a kind of artistic experience that no other medium can convey."

excerpted from:
"How I learned to stop worrying and love Barry Lyndon"
by John Hoffsess, New York Times, 1976.


the le duo said...

lord bullingdon was a pussy

Herb said...

Barry Lyndon might be my favorite Kubrick film. In a lot of ways, it's an anomaly in his canon, but it's also the quintessential Kubrick movie.

Tanner M. said...

I completely agree... i go back to it like it's a riddle, every time i watch it I'm completely enthralled by it but i can never fully grasp the reasons, when i read this article i felt like someone elaborated that sensation for me.