Review | Stanley Kubrick at The Design Museum

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Bringing iconic films to the main screen, from Clockwork Orange to The Shining, Stanley Kubrick has contributed significantly to 20th century popular culture.  The Design Museum presents an exhibition of the life and work of Stanley Kubrick as a visionary filmmaker. There is an array of artefacts that are organized to make up this exhibition in order to gain an understanding of Kubrick’s unique filmmaking process. Which includes everything from the storytelling, the editing, researching and filming stages for each film.

Screen photo of 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. One point perspective at the entrance of the exhibition. © The Design Museum. Photograph by Ed Reeve.

The exhibition, Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, follows the films of Stanley Kubrick. The exhibition starts by introducing the visitor to a signature scene from Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey through a panoramic screen producing an image of actor Keir Dullea floating through the storage corridor of Discovery’s pod bay. The product of Kubrick’s imagination is demonstrated in the shots he chose to take for the film.

A view into the research conducted for a film explored the annotated books and provide a glimpse into how Kubrick began to envision the story onto the screen. A significant amount of inspiration began with novels for Kubrick. This was evident from his initiative in reaching out to the author, Arthur C. Clarke, in the creation of Space Odyssey. Having read Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”, he sought to collaborate with the author and write the screenplay for the film. This was demonstrated through archival material in the form of letters exchanged between Clarke and Kubrick. A large part of the Stanley Kubrick archival material retrieved from the University of the Arts of London.

Screen photo of 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. One point perspective at the entrance of the exhibition. © The Design Museum. Photograph by Ed Reeve.

The themed rooms created spaces that showcased films such as Barry Lyndon, 2001: Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Eyes Wide Shut, and Dr. Strangelove. Each space presents a glimpse into the making of each film, which includes screens that highlight iconic scenes and props used within them. The presentation of different Kubrick films is represented through coloured banners with their trademark font.

A striking black and white photo named the Shell-shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968, of a Vietnam soldier taken by Don McCullum, was a photographer who inspired Kubrick in the development of the film Full Metal Jacket. The exhibit highlights the many individuals who were pivotal in the creation of each individual film. Whether they were sketch artists, novelists, or designers, their individual contribution is highlighted throughout the exhibition. Viewing preliminary material produced by these artists, give an insight into the direction and intent for each creative process.

Correspondence letters that were exchanged between Kubrick and Elliot Noyes, IBM’s design consultant, capture the struggle behind realizing the technology for 2001: Space Odyssey. Kubrick’s vision for the film transcended the main screen as he presented progressive ideas for technology of the future. The presentation of space guides the visitor for a unique experience of Kubrick films as projects brought to life by artistic visionaries under the direction of Stanley Kubrick.

Words by Sophia Reyes.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition is on at the Design Museum until 15th September. For more information and tickets, visit the Design Museum.


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