The Signature Auteur Techniques of Stanley Kubrick
Throughout history, there has been many different types of producers with many abstract styles. However, there are only a select few that can be considered auteurs. One of the best filmmakers, and an auteur, Stanley Kubrick is one of the most renowned filmmakers from the U.S. He has made many quality films and won many Awards. A few of his films consist of The Shining (1980) Full Metal Jacket A Clockwork Orange (1971) Malcolm McDowell as Alex, Patrick Magee as Mr. Alexander and Michael Bates as the Chief Guard. In these three movies, Kubrick uses the same techniques.
He is consistent with his techniques and sounds. When watching one of Kubrick’s films, one will instantly know it is a Kubrick film based on the photography or the non-diegetic sounds, therefore making Stanley Kubrick an auteur, his distinct characteristics of his films. In The Shining (1980) starring Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance is based off of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. The movie follows a writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who moves his family to an isolated hotel to take care of the place and try to finish a piece of writing. While Jack slowly dives into madness and becomes violent, and his wife tries to stop him, his son sees disturbing and gruesome visions through his ability of telepathy. In the film, Kubrick uses a simple zoom in zoom out technique to capture the stillness and greatness in the shot. He also uses this to instill a sense of enlargement in the world or the place the characters are in.
In the Shining, the use of the steady and and one-point perspective which play a big role in the scare factor of the film. Stanley uses tracking shots hen Danny is being followed on his bike or walking down the hall, the camera position is scary because the viewers do not know what’s behind them or to the side. Also, in the film, the use of non-diegetic sound, for example in the beginning, the music makes the mountains seem scary and not a safe place. The screeching and high pitch sounds call for some scary scenes in the shining. The thoughtful use of the steady cam in this film allowed for some great filming that made this movie just that good. This film was a look into human life and the capabilities humans actually have. Jack, his turn into madness is something real people can face in their lifetime which makes the movie more realistic and scary.
In Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987) Matthew Modine as Pvt. J.T. ‘Joker’ Davis, Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother and Vincent D’Onofrio as Pvt. Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence. This war film follows a platoon of soldiers throughout their harsh training and into their experiences during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War. It was conceived as a hyper-realistic view of the struggles and sufferings of army recruits, focusing on the brainwashing needed to shape them up for war. He uses a lot of the same techniques used in other films. Techniques such as the long zooms to emphasize a certain object or person. He uses the zoom to achieve depth in the shot, depth is used to achieve composition, in Kubrick’s movies, excellent composition in his films. He also uses basic symmetry within the camera lense to guide the viewers eye into the direction Kubrick wants it to go in. Using symmetry creates a feel of equilibrium to the viewer. It allows for kubrick to mess with the mind, it’s a psychological mindset when it comes to symmetry in films.
In Full Metal Jacket we hear the use of diegetic sounds which makes for a more intriguing movie to watch because as a viewer you want to know where the sounds are coming from. In Kubrick’s films, he knows what the viewer will be looking at a at a given time. This is why he was successful. This film is shot to mimic the harshness and actualities of war, when the soldier loses his mind, it is very possible for that to happen to other soldier and it actually did.
In the film, A Clockwork Orange (1971) Malcolm McDowell as Alex, Patrick Magee as Mr. Alexander and Michael Bates as the Chief Guard. Alex a psychotic young man, goes on a murderous rampage raping and abusing people. Alex eventually gets caught and is sent to jail. He is then up for a new study that “helps” out the patient and prevents him from doing bad things. This psychological changes Alex. In A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick is obsessed about human behavior and human detail. This movie opened doors of violence and crime Kubrick has not touched upon until then.
Throughout the film, the non-diegetic sounds add a new level of creepiness and uncertainty. The high pitch slow music turns on when something bad is going to happen in the film. Or when Kubrick’s just wants to creep the viewers out. Also, in this film, the use of symmetry allows Kubrick to achieve depth and creativity within the shot. He captures everything, objects that are close up to objects that are far away. Stanley uses slow motion in this film to instill comedy and to also get a stuck in time effect. Also, he uses zoom in zoom out as well, usually when a character is staring into the camera allowing the zoom out to be very creepy. All the cinematic techniques in this film contribute to the creepiness and obsession with human character. The way the characters were depicted made for a very interesting movie about the role of government. This movies questions government, is too much assistance from the government not good for society. Kubrick was interested in how humans operate when put in a bad position, this is why the film was so successful.
All three of these films, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange all have cinematic and thematic fingerprints left by Stanley Kubrick. In all the films, tracking shots, by the use of the steadicam allowed for Kubrick to get those shots that make the audience uneasy and adds dramatic tension. Another big one was Kubrick’s film style and his use of symmetry in all the films. Since he was a former photographer, his shots had to look and be perfect.
The cinematography in his films are usually stunning and aesthetically pleasing, making use of colors and contrasting between black and white. The use of symmetry in scenes allowed for this to happen. Another technique seen in almost all his films are the zooming in and zooming out on a certain character. This makes the audience view that specific object for longer which indicates Kubrick is trying to tell or inform the viewers something. He is famous for prolonging sequences and slowing down the rhythm of the film by using slow motion to create emotion and suspense in the plot.
Also, the use of sounds are similar in each film, they are used to create an uneasy sense and the soundtracks usually sound similar. When evaluating all three films, Kubrick enjoys making movies on a broad spectrum. From killing to loving, he can film it all. However, one thematic fingerprint he leaves on all movies is his obsession with humans, human character, human thought, and human feeling. In the three films, the main character goes through some sort of mental transformation whether it be good or bad. He liked filming new ideas and concepts. What is learned from these techniques are what Kubrick enjoyed filming about and what he is interested in.Stanley Kubrick is one of greatest filmmakers. Kubrick was known for his perfectionism, he used care with scene staging and he worked very close with his actors.
His films were known for their amazing and unique cinematography, attention to detail, realism and soundtracks. In regards to auteur theory, Stanley Kubrick has his own views and opinions on the world which are very specific. In all his movies it is possible to tell what Kubrick was thinking. Even though he has directed many different types of movies, each movie has certain traits that let you know it’s a Kubrick film. Kubrick uses a lot of tracking shots and he pays a lot of attention to detail because he was a perfectionist.
From the three films, Stanley Kubrick does fall under the Auteur Theory. He has very specific ideas and he has a very specific way of filmmaking, he uses similar shots in all his films and he uses similar music which is iconic to Kubrick. From Stanley’s perfectionist motto to satirizing government, his fingerprints are all over his films, and because of that he is an Auteur. Stanley Kubrick will always be considered one of the best directors.
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