2001 has to be the first movie I had seen that shocked me to the possibilities of narrative grammar and the means of visually articulating imaginary worlds. Until then Stanley Kubrick to me was a master director because critiques said so and not by my own direct experience.
I came across this excerpt of an interview with Kubrick, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the mindscape of this brilliant director. Below are some highlights that should be required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in creativity.
On depicting the battle scenes of Napolean
(the movie that was to be directed by Kubrick but never got done, earning it the sobriquet “masterpiece that was never made”):
”There’s an aesthetic involved; it’s almost like a great piece of music, or the purity of a mathematical formula. It’s this quality I want to bring across, as well as the sordid reality of battle. You know, there’s a weird disparity between the sheer visual and organizational beauty of the historical battles sufficiently far in the past, and their human consequences. It’s rather like watching two golden eagles soaring through the sky from a distance; they may be tearing a dove to pieces, but if you are far enough away the scene is still beautiful.”
On the ‘purpose’ of a film
“the basic purpose of a film, which I believe is one of illumination, of showing the viewer something he can’t see any other way”
On depicting futuristic or historic themes
“it enables you to make a statement with which you’re not personally blinded; it removes the environmental blinkers, in a sense, and gives you a deeper and more objective perspective”
On whether the ambiguity in 2001 was deliberate
“..it was inevitable. And I think in a film like 2001, where each viewer brings his own emotions and perceptions to bear on the subject matter, a certain degree of ambiguity is valuable, because it allows the audience to "fill in" the visual experience themselves. In any case, once you’re dealing on a nonverbal level, ambiguity is unavoidable. But it’s the ambiguity of all art, of a fine piece of music or a painting..”
Read the whole interview. I gained a lot from it.