Stanley Kubrick's cinematographic secrets at the University of Arts in London
BY PAMELA ZÚÑIGA, ART PROJECTS MANAGER OF THE BRITISH COUNCIL MEXICO
At the end of September of this year, I visited Stanley Kubrick's film archive, which includes some of the pieces that will be presented at the Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will open on Wednesday, November 30, at Cineteca Nacional with support from the British Council Mexico. Curated by the Deutsches Filmmuseum, the exhibition consists of large-format projections, original objects, scripts, models, personal documents, photographs, costumes and more, which are part of the Kubrick family collection and private collectors.
The history of cinema has seen a few creators as prolific as Stanley Kubrick. Literary adaptations such as Lolita (1962) by Vladimir Nabokov, the futuristic furniture design innovations of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and the psychedelic fashion aesthetics of A Clockwork Orange (1971) are just a few examples of the many themes that the filmmaker of American origin –but who developed most of his work on British soil– reinterpreted.
However, the masterpieces that changed the way we see film are not sparks of an unpredictable genius, but rather the result of a methodical and detailed form of work applied in each of his films. Kubrick made 12 films between the 1950s and 1990s, devoting considerable time to the research the pre-production process: what's behind the scenes, the visual machine gears. However, we were not aware of these procedures until years after his death, when his family opened the doors of his house to reveal to us that there was a hidden treasure in mysteriously closed and labelled boxes waiting to be discovered. It is at this moment that the other posthumous work of Kubrick began to be revealed: that of his archives.
Hundreds of boxes filled with research footage from Eyes Wide Shut (1999) with pictures of doors, interiors and details of everyday life, cafés, houses and streets in London. Recordings of Sue Lyon scene tests while filming Lolita (1962), memoranda with precise instructions for his assistants, fan letters filed according to where they came from, stacks of sheets from The Shining's typewriter (1980) with the phrase "All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy" written in different languages thousands of times. Kubrick was well aware that this was going to be found and valued at the time of his death and thus an individual interest became an institutional project supported by the University of Arts in London (UAL) who acquired the archive in 2007 and whom since then preserves it in special climatic conditions, making sure that this legacy stays alive and doing a great work of diffusion so that filmmakers and students of art in general can approach it and learn about the incredible attention to details of Kubrick and how his methods created the most memorable images of the World cinematography.
This archive is kept alive and is not only housed in a quiet warehouse located in South London, but surrounded by the vibrant atmosphere of the University and its many students who inspired by it, have generated design pieces around it. This archive also travels, infecting filmmakers and moviegoers from other countries: in collaboration with the British Council Mexico, Cineteca Nacional has brought to Mexico the successful exhibition "Stanley Kubrick", which will open its doors to visitors from Mexico City starting on December 2016, after being exhibited around the world.