Friday, June 13, 2014

Stanley Kubrick 1968 Playboy interview

The other night TCM Channel aired the 1968 SF film, 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.  It still remains in my Top Twenty Films of all time status, and probably further up into my Top Ten as well.  An acquaintance made mention of the fact that few directors pay much attention to the invention of color in film.  They just think of it as the next step in technology coming out of the black and white era, and don't think much about it other than that.  They load it into their cameras and start shooting film footage, hardly much beyond that.   However, he cited Stanley Kubrick as a director that took advantage of the medium.  I wanted to re-watch the film 2001 with that in mind.  I do remember the film being very color oriented, particularly using the color orange in some of the settings and so forth.  But upon watching it again there are other examples too like in some of the color monitors and lights generated on the screen and so forth.  It made me re-think the film all over again.  Being a SF fan too, I think he more or less set a high water mark within the SF genre that's pretty darn hard to equal.  It's not all in the visuals, though they are spectacular, but of course the way he handled the story, the music, and a lot of the other facets of film directing.  It got me to thinking that such a well known project had to have gotten quite a bit of media coverage from that year, and I was curious if I could track down a Playboy interview with him.  Sure enough I did.  You can read it here, if interested. 

The other day I had a friend email me saying he was interested in one of my art works that I mentioned a few post ago.  Since most of them are still hanging in the gallery, I told him I could send him the Attack of the Crab Monsters image I made.  I mostly used unused paint from the other paintings to compose it, and since it was mostly done for fun anyway,  I sent it to him.  He informed me that the film was a 1957 black and white film written and directed by Roger Corman, and that he had found a copy of it along with two other early Corman films on DVD at one of the local media outlets in town.   That got me interested in watching the film as well as I never had seen it.  I've yet to sit down and watch it, but it's on my list of movies to check out.  While looking around the web I ran across a poem that a poet, Lawrence Raab, had penned also about the same movie. . It has everything that belongs in the perfect poem (I think): a sense of humor, a sense of context, and it places the reader and poem in a very specific B movie scene -- surreal elements -- which work wonders on the unconscious.

 I thought it was pretty good, and fun to read, so I thought I'd share it:

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Even from the beach I could sense it---
lack of welcome, lack of abiding life,
like something in the air, a certain
lack of sound.  Yesterday
there was a mountain out there.
Now it's gone.  And look

at this radio, each tube neatly
sliced in half.  Blow the place up!
That was my advice.
But after the storm and the earthquake,
after the tactic of the exploding plane
and the strategy of the sinking boat, it looked

like fate and I wanted to say, "Don't you see?
So what if you're a famous biochemist!
Lost with all hands is an old story."
Sure, we're on the edge
of an important breakthrough, everyone
hearing voices, everyone falling

into caves, and you're out
wandering through the jungle
in the middle of the night in your negligée.
Yes, we're way out there
on the edge of science, while the rest
of the island continues to disappear until

nothing's left except this
cliff in the middle of the ocean,
and you, in your bathing suit,
crouched behind the scuba tanks.
I'd like to tell you
not to be afraid, but I've lost

my voice. I'm not used to all these
legs, these claws, these feelers.
It's the old story, predictable
as fallout---the re-arrangement of molecules.
And everyone is surprised
and no one understands

why each man tries to kill
the thing he loves, when the change
comes over him. So now you know
what I never found the time to say.
Sweetheart, put down your flamethrower.
You know I always loved you.

By the way, I ran across the film on

You can view it here, if interested. 


At 2:49 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Kubrick's colors do slap at you, even in a film like Full Metal Jacket, as in the end song with the bright orange flames and hint of blue sky in the background.

Attack of the Crab Monsters and other '50s movies like it were staple fare on the independent channels when I was a kid, so there are few that I missed. It's a bad movie by any reasonable standard, but fun anyway for anyone who can enjoy campily bad movies.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Hey Richard--I agree. It's been a while since I've seen Full Metal Jacket, and I've been meaning to re-watch it. I remember when I first saw it I was a bit mixed over it. It felt like two movies tacked together--the set-up, boot camp part, and then the action, war scenes, which at the time seemed a bit less interesting. I do remember it having an odd soundtrack, but don't remember the song which you reference. So I'll have to re-watch it and give it another go.

Yes, I figured Attack of the Crab Monsters might be something that MST3K might have lampooned. I've yet to sit down to watch it, but like you, I find some of those movies entertaining and fun in a nostalgic way when I'm in the right mood. Cheers.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

The company sings the Mickey Mouse Club theme song -- a contrast as stark as the colors.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Yes, Kubrick loved using white and having his other colors bounce off it. You see a lot of white in "2001", "A Clockwork Orange", "The Shining" and "Eyes Wide Shut". But then it is interesting to rematch the movies and see what colors he has playing against the white.

It is really interesting to see how directors handled a transition to color, especially if they started with black and white films. Akira Kurosawa felt that colors made his films look too surreal, so once he switched to color film making, most of his work had an almost dreamlike quality to it. His samurai epics of the period like "Ran" and "Kagamusha" don't feel like they occur in a real world, as opposed to his movies like "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" which do feel much more realistic in black and white. Kurosawa went for broke in his film "Dreams" which used color and dream like imagery in very interesting ways.

I wonder what would happen if we forced someone like J.J. Abrams to film something in black and white. :)

At 6:42 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Interesting thoughts, Roman. I'd agree about Kurosawa, his black & white films have always felt very earthy to me. I would say his film, Dreams, is probably his most surreal in imagery, but like you said they did take on that quality to them once he made the transition.

As far as J.J.Abrams, wouldn't it be a great idea if all directors or at least most of the famous ones tried their hand at black and white at least once? Spielberg has done his with Schindler's List, and oddly it has these artistic flourishes in it with the young girl and that red color.

Pushing the boundaries with color film might be an interesting blog post. Another director that I can think of is Krzysztof Kieślowski. His Three Colors trilogy films: Blue, White, and Red, comes to mind.


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