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Kubrick's wonderful early noir classic,
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This review is from: The Killing [DVD] (DVD)
During a span of 46 years, Stanley Kubrick made only 13 feature films, from "Fear and Desire (1953)" to "Eyes Wide Shut (1999)". Although each has its own charm and unique taste and style, none looks much like the other in terms of genre and theme. "The Killing" represents Kubrick's entrance into the dark shadowy world of film noir. He was the master of exploring the dusky side of human nature in his pictures, focusing on crime, deceit, betrayal and morality. So, film noir & Kubrick: what a perfect fit.
The term "killing" refers to an elaborate heist of a race track. The robbery is masterminded by ex-Alcatraz inmate Johnny Clay, who rounds up a motley assortment of crooks, most of whom are small-timers as well as insiders in the race track lounge. Clay and his trusted accomplices have different stories and motives. We know a lot about them because the movie has an unusually convulted narrative structure, which was ahead of its time albeit outdated today. Flipping back and forth in time, he introduces a character, takes him a certain way where each gets a chance to tell his version of the story. Such kind of flashbacks and flashforwards are used in heist sequence, reflecting the various aspects of the robbery in different space and time.
That non-linear storytelling works well with Kubrick's deft directorial touch, but when the film was first released in 1956, United Artists dumped it on the grounds that it was too weird for average viewer and nobody would sit through that. Then Kubrick decided to re-edit the film. After watching new version he absolutely hated it, and put it back the way first edited it. It was his very first triumph to gain absolute control over his work.
Overall, "The Killing" is a perfect classic film noir, depicting man's foibles of greed and betrayal devastatingly real. Its importance not only comes from its influence on modern day noirs, such as Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and "Jackie Brown", but also it manifests what Kubrick was capable of doing with a shoestring budget of $320,000, even at an age of 27.
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Initial post: 12 Feb 2013 11:11:52 GMT
Rififi was a similar film noir that appeared before The Killing. It some ways it was better.
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