The Stanley Kubrick Website (unofficial website)
Stanley Kubrick

Early years

Kubrick's family and many critics felt that his Jewish ancestry may have contributed to his worldview and aspects of his films. After his death, both his daughter and wife stated that although he was not religious, "he did not deny his Jewishness, not at all". His daughter noted that he wanted to make a film about the Holocaust, to have been called Aryan Papers, having spent years researching the subject. Most of his friends and early photography and film collaborators were Jewish, and his first two marriages were to daughters of recent Jewish immigrants from Europe. British screenwriter Frederic Raphael, who worked closely with Kubrick in his final years, believes that the originality of Kubrick's films was partly because he "had a (Jewish?) respect for scholars". He said that it was "absurd to try to understand Stanley Kubrick without reckoning on Jewishness as a fundamental aspect of his mentality".


Walker notes that Kubrick was influenced by the tracking and "fluid camera" styles of director Max Ophüls, and used them in many of his films, including Paths of Glory and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick noted how in Ophuls' films "the camera went through every wall and every floor". He once named Ophüls' Le Plaisir as his favorite film. According to film historian John Wakeman, Ophüls himself learned the technique from director Anatole Litvak in the 1930s, when he was his assistant, and whose work was "replete with the camera trackings, pans and swoops which later became the trademark of Max Ophuls". Film critic Robert Kolker sees the influence of Welles' moving camera shots on Kubrick's style. LoBrutto notes that Kubrick identified with Welles and influenced the making of The Killing, with its "multiple points of view, extreme angles, and deep focus".

Stories and writing

Kubrick adapted all but his first two full-length films from existing novels or short stories. Many of the subjects Kubrick used for his films came to him unintentionally and indirectly, from books, newspapers, and talking with friends about various topics. Once he found a subject that interested him, however, "he devoured all relevant material" he could find about the topic, notes Walker. He occasionally collaborated with writers established outside the film world (often novelists or reporters) for several of his screenplays: Terry Southern for Dr. Strangelove, Arthur C. Clarke for 2001, and Diane Johnson for The Shining. Geoffrey Cocks believes that Kubrick was also influenced by Ophüls' stories of thwarted love and a preoccupation with predatory men, while Herr notes that Kubrick was deeply inspired by G. W. Pabst, who earlier tried but was unable to adapt Schnitzler's Traumnovelle, the basis of Eyes Wide Shut.


As a young man, Kubrick was fascinated by the films of Soviet filmmakers such as Eisenstein and Pudovkin. Kubrick read Pudovkin’s seminal theoretical work, Film Technique, which argues that editing makes film a unique art form, and it needs to be employed to manipulate the medium to its fullest. Kubrick recommended this work to others for years to come. Thomas Nelson describes this book as "the greatest influence of any single written work on the evolution of [Kubrick's] private aesthetics". Kubrick also found the ideas of Constantin Stanislavski to be essential to his understanding the basics of directing, and gave himself a crash course to learn his methods. He explained their significance: The equivalent to Pudovkin's book on film editing is a book oddly enough about Stanislavsky, not by him: Stanislavsky Directs, by Nikolai M. Gorchakov. It provides a very detailed and practical description of Stanislavsky at work on different productions. I would regard it as an essential book for any intending film director. Kubrick had cited David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977) as one of his favorite films and used it as a creative reference during the directing of The Shining.