Monday, August 18, 2008

Stanley Kubrick's Boxes

Hey guys,

I just have to post this video so that I may include it in the 8-part series I did on
Kubrick’s Napoleon. You may recall in Part 1 how obsessed Stanley was about every detail, about how he had 18,000 documents and books about Napoleon, a monster index file of the 50 principal characters in the movie, which were all written on 3x5 cards and organized by the dates of every key event in Napoleon’s life from his birth to his death. It totaled roughly 25,000 index cards. He constructed a picture file retrieval system that had 15,000 images on all things Napoleon. The images were classified by subject, which also included “a visual signaling method,” “allowing cross-indexing of subjects to an almost unlimited degree of complexity and detail.”

Stanley had a lot of boxes.

There was also an article in
the Guardian by Jon Ronson, who two years after Stanley’s death, was given full access to Stanley’s boxes. I remember Stanley’s obsession about the door for the hooker in Eyes Wide Shut. Jon wrote, In one portable cabin, for example, there are hundreds and hundreds of boxes related to Eyes Wide Shut, marked EWS - Portman Square, EWS - Kensington & Chelsea, etc, etc. I choose the one marked EWS - Islington because that's where I live. Inside are hundreds of photographs of doorways. The doorway of my local video shop, Century Video, is here, as is the doorway of my dry cleaner's, Spots Suede Services on Upper Street. Then, as I continue to flick through the photographs, I find, to my astonishment, pictures of the doorways of the houses in my own street. Handwritten at the top of these photographs are the words, “Hooker doorway?”

Jon also made a three-part documentary about his experience going through Stanley’s boxes, which is now available, the entire three-part series, in the video above. Truly fascinating. Hope you enjoy it.



Crumbs said...

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. This is exactly what I've wanted to see for ages.

Mystery Man said...

Tell me about. That's EXACTLY how I felt! I couldn't wait to see this documentary! Those boxes are something, aren't they?

I loved the story about Stanley redesigning the lids of boxes. He was a damn genius. He always inspires me. I don't know why.


beckspace said...

Want to know why Kubrick needed the barometric and temperature measures over London? Because the Dawn of Men required very cold conditioned Studio; both studios where 2001 was shot (the british MGM & Shepperton studios) locates on opposite sides of London; the immense Front Projection system used in the Dawn of Men had a lamp so sensible to pressure and temperature variation that a door opening and closing up far away could kill the lamp. The system was so hard to focus that a dead lamp would delay the shooting for hours.

What it seems so odd in Kubrick has always a very rational explanation. He was a chess player; he never took a move without being sure of it.

And it is a great doc. I’m so glad that his family allowed this register. By the way… the A.I. boxes are still in there? Those are the most exciting part of his neverending research, after Napoleon, of course (that has a fantastic script).

Dested said...

Amazing. Simply amazing. He was an enigma, and it was nice to see you scratch the surface.

ThatGirlTasha said...

"I'm famous yet anonymous, failed yet accomplished, brilliant yet semi-brilliant. I'm a homebody who jetsets around the world. I'm brash and daring yet chilled with a twist.

-But you're always a woman to me.

Sorry couldn't help it.

Amazing post-love Kubrick

Anonymous said...

Stanley would have loved google street view.

doswheeler said...

No doubt about it, one major cool dude!


Luis Gonzalez said...

So intriguing. Can't wait for the full documentary.

purpletrex said...

Kubrick, in my opinion, was the best director of all time. The amount of detail that went into his movies was staggering.

I still watch 2001 several times a year and I am still amazed each time I watch it.

When I went to college my History professor pretty much spent the entire semester on the French Revolution and Napoleon. The stories he told about Napoleon, I have never heard before, or since. It's a Shame Kubrick never lived long enough to make Napoleon.

Anonymous said...

Pure genius. One of the best documentaries I've seen in years.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks, guys, for all your comments. I was thrilled to find this video.

Tasha - you're not the first girl to tell me that. Hehehe...


Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful, wonderful look into the mind of sheer genius. Thank you.

Hanover said...

Jon Ronson on discovering a box in Kubrick's house containing a photograph of every single doorway in London in his hopes to find the definitive hooker doorway for Eyes Wide Shut.....

But was it worth it? Was the hooker doorway eventually picked for Eyes Wide Shut the quintessential hooker doorway? Back at home, I watch Eyes Wide Shut again on DVD. The hooker doorway looks exactly like any doorway you would find in Lower Manhattan - maybe on Canal Street or in the East Village. It is a red door, up some brownstone steps, with the number 265 painted on the glass at the top. Tom Cruise is pulled through the door by the hooker. The scene is over in a few seconds. (It was eventually shot on a set at Pinewood.) I remember the Napoleon archive, the years it took Kubrick and some assistants to compile it, and I suggest to Jan Harlan, Kubrick's executive producer and brother-in-law, that had there not been all those years of attention to detail during the early planning of the movie, perhaps Napoleon would actually have been made.

"That's a completely theoretical and obsolete observation!" replies Jan, in a jolly way. "That's like saying had Vermeer painted in a different manner, he'd have done 100 more paintings.

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musser said...

I am SO appreciative that you have allowed this to be viewed. In fact, I'm absolutely elated. Watching this has permitted me to reconsider my own state of mind during a creative dry spell of sorts. Stanley Kubrick (especially Clockwork Orange) was the reason I entered film school many years ago. I don't make films for a living any longer, but I do dabble from time to time for my own personal creative release. Now, Stanley's given me another jump start. So, thanks to you. Thanks to Stanley. You've made this day a special day for me.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks, man. I know how you feel. This made my day when I discovered it! It's inspiring to me.


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Anonymous said...

What an incredible advertisement for stationery--and for obsessive compulsive disorder, too. Nice to know how far ahead of the consumer curve Stanley was. Guess recycled paper's going to take a hit, but that's okay, more young men with more obsessions is what we all need (more of).

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Anonymous said...

The documentary, "Stanley Kubrick's Boxes", is now viewable on youtube at:

Anonymous said...

The documentary, "Stanley Kubrick's Boxes", is now viewable on youtube at:

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