The Auteur Theory: Stanley Kubrick

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Auteur Theory is based on three premises, the first being technique, the second being personal style, and the third being interior meaning. Furthermore, there is no specific order in which these three aspects must be presented or weighted with regard to a film. An Auteur must give films a distinctive quality thus exerting a personal creative vision and interjecting it into the his or her films.

Kubrick made his first film in 1953 and has continued to make films till his death shortly after the film Eyes Wide Shut in 1999. With a film career spanning over four decades, he crafted consistent themes, and honed a highly personalized style which was woven into the films he made. Stanley Kubrick was a very stylistic film maker and paid great attention to detail in every aspect of his movies. One of the most prominent aspects of Kubrick’s style, especially as his career progressed, was his use of music to evoke emotion, tension, or a sense of discombobulation. He would use the music in unconventional ways, like in 2001 Space Odyssey, where he contrasts the dark mystery with classical music that is light in nature. Furthermore much can be said for the soundscapes used throughout his movies. They are bold yet sometimes stark, and silence is used in a powerful way. These all show to argue Stanley Kubrick’s place as an Auteur with regard to the personalized style.

Furthermore, in Auteur theory, one must not only have technical skills and personalized style , but there must be consistent interior meanings or themes presented. In regard to Stanley Kubrick’s films, the main character is always male and generally is not likeable. Kubrick plays to the audiences morals and or emotions, trying to get them to sympathize with this person. Further, in his films as a recurring theme, Kubrick plays to the duality of ones’ self. The main characters are usually faced with difficult conflicts within themselves. These conflicts encountered, usually are ethical, moral, or personal in nature. He also parallels the main characters conflicts with other characters conflicts as well. Also mirrors are use often to help show these dualities throughout his films.

In Lolita, Humbert faces a moral dilemma with his obsession for Lolita. He knows his feelings are wrong, but he cannot help himself and he is too weak to fight it. Humbert then has an opposing force that parallels him, this being the character of Quilty, who haunts him throughout the rest of the movie. Only by killing Quilty can Humbert come to terms with this duality. Also in The Shining there are parallels between Jack and his urges to kill his family and his son Danny who feels much of what his dad feels through the apparent psychic connection. Also a parallel with the former groundskeeper who killed his whole family is present.

In 2001 space odyssey, as formentioned, he uses light classical music juxtaposed with the dark mysteries that surround the mission and the spaceship Discovery One. The music provides a sense of serenity as well as discombobulated feel like one might feel in space. As with all of his films there was great attention to detail and it was visually stunning as well as aesthetically pleasing. One specific shot of beauty is in the beginning of the movie titled “dawn of man” after the apes jump around the monolith, the sun is setting behind a flat topped hill and the moon is juxtaposed right above it with golden clouds all around. Also in this movie, the reoccurring theme of an unsavory character that we are manipulated into sympathizing with is HAL during the disconnection scene. In 2002 the sight and sound poll of critics sited it as one of the top ten films of all time. This movie does support Stanley Kubrick as an Auteur.

The Shining is a horror film Kubrick worked on and used music and soundscape to create fear and tension. In one specific scene the sound was used for dramatic affect when Dan was riding his big wheel through the halls and comes...
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