Screened as part of NZIFF 2001

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures 2001

Directed by Jan Harlan

USA In English
142 minutes 35mm / B&W and Colour

Director, Producer

Production Co

Warner Home Video


Manuel Harlan


Melanie Viner Cuneo


Tom Cruise


Christiane Kubrick
Woody Allen
Martin Scorcese
Steven Spielberg
Jack Nicholson
Nicole Kidman
Alan Parker
Paul Mazursky
Sydney Pollack
Arthur C. Clarke
Tom Cruise


This documentary is two and a half hours of pure, unadulterated Stanley Kubrick worship. Structurally, it’s pretty uncreative: straightforward, linear, going behind the scenes film-by-film and sprinkling in anecdotes and praise from a number of superfamous talking heads… But if you’re a fan of Kubrick, his movies, or simply film history in general, you really can’t go wrong here.

Kubrick died in 1999 still stuck with his reputation as an eccentric recluse (and a mad perfectionist who held Cruise and company hostage for the endless filming of Eyes Wide Shut); this doc, filmed by his brother-in-law Jan Harlan (who also worked with Kubrick from 1970 until his death), reveals that Kubrick had intended to do a few interviews and, as one of his daughters notes, ‘set the record straight’. Kubrick’s genius as a filmmaker, his ability to command light and music, comes through loud and clear…

Each of Kubrick’s films, from the earliest making-a-name-for-himself pictures (Killer’s Kiss, The Killing), to the career-changing Spartacus and Lolita, to his (often controversial) works as a total auteur (Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket) is lovingly revisited, explored, and praised… In all, an illuminating look at the chess-hustling kid from the Bronx who went on to change filmmaking forever. — Cheryl Eddy, San Francisco Bay Guardian, 25/4/01

Bordering on hagiography, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures was made by Kubrick associate Jan Harlan, in cooperation with the late filmmaker’s family, and released by his longtime studio. The documentary portrait, which includes some fascinating childhood home movies of Kubrick and his kid sister as well as footage of the owlish potentate at work, leisurely tracks this supremely inner-directed and profoundly eccentric artist’s journey from precocious success to reclusive legend…

Kubrick himself barely speaks – he hated interviews – but his technical genius is endorsed by everyone from Woody Allen to Jack Nicholson to Steven Spielberg to his wife and daughters, with Martin Scorsese’s comments the most insightful. (Actually, the pithiest account of Kubrick’s working method comes from Shelley Duvall: ‘Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day?’ she asks.) I confess to severely mixed feelings about nearly every movie in the Kubrick canon, from his disowned Fear and Desire to his unfinished Eyes Wide Shut, but the least I can say for Harlan’s documentary is that it made me want to see them all again. — J. Hoberman, Village Voice, 6/6/01