Influenced science fiction filmmaking forever with 2001: A Space Odyssey.
July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999
Stanley Kubrick’s impact on science fiction filmmaking cannot be underestimated. He brought otherworldly concepts to wide audiences and mainstream acceptance, and his film 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to influence the genre to this day.
Starting in high school Kubrick worked as a freelance photographer for Look magazine, and later became an employee. He began to hone his visual storytelling skills by creating stories told in series of still images. Soon he moved into documentary filmmaking, tackling diverse subjects such as boxers, sailors, and priests. His first feature film, a war story titled Fear and Desire (1953), had only two crew—Kubrick and his wife Toba Metz. Seven years later he directed Spartacus (1960), the highest budget American film to date. With the apocalyptic satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Kubrick adapted a serious novel about nuclear destruction into a comedy—to controversial effect.
His next project, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), changed science fiction film forever. Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and written in collaboration with him, the film is an ambitious portrayal of the evolution of humanity as assisted by extraterrestrials. It features bold special effects and a highly realistic portrayal of spaceflight. Many directors cite 2001 as a key influence, and the film set the stage for the coming era of the science fiction blockbuster.
Kubrick went on to write and direct A Clockwork Orange (1971), based on Anthony Burgess’ novel about a sociopathic teen who is brainwashed into docility. He also worked for many years on an adaptation of Brian Aldiss’ short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long,” but died before he could realize the film. Steven Spielberg took over the project, which became A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
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