This superb nine-disc Stanley Kubrick Box Set
contains all the late director's work from 1962's Lolita
to Kubrick's final film, the highly controversial Eyes Wide Shut
(1999). There's also the excellent and highly informative two-hour documentary: Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
, narrated (a little drably) by Tom Cruise. It isn't exactly a warts-and-all portrait of Stan the Man, which is not surprising, really, given that it's directed and produced by Kubrick's brother-in-law Jan Harlan, and that Kubrick's widow Christine was closely involved in the making of it. But it does give a detailed and revealing portrait of a brilliant, demanding and often infuriating man, airing rare footage that goes right back to his earliest years as a brash youngster in the Bronx, already playing to camera with a frightening degree of self-awareness.
Six of the eight movies (all but Dr Strangelove and Eyes Wide Shut) have been digitally restored and remastered, and almost all (barring Strangelove again and Lolita) now boast Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo sound remixes. For some bizarre reason, Kubrick insisted on mono sound for the 1999 set, which he approved shortly before his death. Visually the improvement over the often grainy, scratchy prints previously on offer--The Shining (1980) was notoriously messy--is immense. All the features are presented in their original ratios, which in the case of Strangelove means the changing ratios in which it was originally shot, and for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) the full glorious 2.21:1 expanse of the Cinerama screen.
So what don't you get? Essentially, the early Kubrick--the work of the young, hungry director before he moved to England and started to gather all the controlling strings into his own hand: most notably the tough, taut thriller The Killing (1956) and the icily furious war film Paths of Glory (1957). Too bad Warners couldn't have negotiated the rights for those too. But what we have here is the culminating phase of Kubrick's filmmaking career--the final 27 years of one of the great masters of cinema.
On the DVDs: Besides the visual and sonic improvements mentioned above, each of the eight features includes the original theatrical trailer and multiple-language subtitles. The DVD of Dr Strangelove also gives us filmographies of the principal players, plus theatrical posters and a photo gallery, while Eyes Wide Shut includes interviews (taped after Kubrick's death) with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Steven Spielberg, plus a couple of 30-second TV spots. And with The Shining we get a fascinating 34-minute documentary made by Kubrick's then 17-year-old daughter Vivian, plus--just to add a further layer--Vivian's present-day voice-over commentary on her film. --Philip Kemp
This nine-disc box set contains:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Full Metal Jacket
Eyes Wide Shut
Plus documentary disc: "Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures" narrated by Tom Cruise