Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and editor. He is regarded as having been one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His films, typically adaptations of novels or short stories, were noted for their “dazzling” and unique cinematography, attention to details to achieve realism and an inspired use of music scores. Kubrick’s films covered a variety of genres, including war, black comedy, horror and science fiction. Kubrick was also noted for being a perfectionist, using painstaking care with scene staging and working closely with his actors.
Starting out as a photographer in New York City, he taught himself all aspects of film production and directing after graduating from high school. His earliest films were made on a shoestring budget, followed by one Hollywood blockbuster, Spartacus, after which he spent most of the rest of his career living and filming in the United Kingdom. His home became his workplace where he did his writing, research, editing and management of production details. This allowed him to have almost complete artistic control, but with the rare advantage of having financial support from major Hollywood studios.
Several of his films broke new cinematic ground. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was a science-fiction film noted for innovative visual effects and scientific realism. In Barry Lyndon (1975) Kubrick used specially-designed lenses to film scenes lit by natural candlelight. Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) was among the first feature films to make use of a Steadicam to allow stabilized and fluid tracking shots. As with his earlier shorts, Kubrick was the cinematographer and editor on the first two of his thirteen feature films. He directed, produced and wrote all or part of the screenplays for nearly all his films.
Some of his films were controversial, including Paths of Glory (1957), Lolita (1962), and A Clockwork Orange (1971). Many of Kubrick’s films were met with mixed reviews, although they were acclaimed years later as masterpieces. He was widely admired by other prominent filmmakers, including Orson Welles, who considered him a “giant” and a “great director”. Steven Spielberg called Space Odyssey his generation’s “big bang”. From the mid-1950s onward, all of Kubrick’s films except The Shining were nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes or BAFTAs. His one personal win was for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Film critic and historian Michel Ciment considers his films to be “among the most important contributions to world cinema in the twentieth century”.