The Influence of Stanley Kubrick

     Sometimes I feel like Icarus flying higher and higher as I seek to grasp that which I desire most before realizing somethings will always be out of reach. Such is the nature of life. Way back when I discussed my film influences, I somehow manged to leave Stanley Kubrick out of the mix. With films like Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut, and, of course, 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s hard to imagine a world where Kubrick hasn’t influenced aspiring filmmakers and writers alike.

     To me, Kubrick is Icarus. He wasn’t afraid to spread his wings and fly high. You can definitely see his willingness to push the limits of filmmaking in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s one of those films that makes you think. Nowadays that’s quite a rarity. 2001: A Space Odyssey also seems to be something of a prerequisite for watching Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. The references and allusions just make more sense if you go into Interstellar with a working knowledge of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

     Then of course, you have A Clockwork Orange which pushes more than just the limits of filmmaking. For me, though, Kubrick’s best works are some of his older films like Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and The Killing. It was fun to watch Kubrick take on satire in Dr. Strangelove. And who can forget the iconic scene where Major Kong rides the bomb? The Killing, on the other hand, strikes a more serious tone and helped to pave the way for so many other “one last heist” films. Then there’s that memorable last line: “What’s the difference?”.

     When it comes to writing, I’ve aspired to follow what I see to be Kubrick’s approach: Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and fly high. Have I been successful at it, or have I flown too close to the sun and melted my wings? The answer to that question isn’t up to me. That being the case, I don’t worry about it. I just keep writing. In the end, I suppose that is all that I can do. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide if I have scorched my wings or not.

     So, thank you Stanley Kubrick. You inspired me. Now it’s time for me to get back to writing. I need to stretch out my wings and get ready to spread them wide. Just in case, though, I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab a parachute while I’m at it…

vintage old film

Film Influence No. 1: Donnie Darko

        What’s real, and what’s imagined?  And does the answer to that question even really matter if, in the end, we all die alone.  Welcome to the world of Donnie Darko.  It’s a “Mad World” indeed.  In the film, Donnie Darko, who is the title character, is either a paranoid schizophrenic who sees the future and changes it for the better, or he’s just a boy who dies alone in a freak accident.  Personally, I’m a firm believer that the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.  Of course when it comes to fictional stories, the truth may lie anywhere.  I suppose that is why I like films like Donnie Darko so much.  Unlike our boundary-filled world, in a fictional universe one can explore the depths of the Universe without limits.

        Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about String Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and the Big Bang, itself, quite often.  The more I learn, the more I understand that there is so much that humanity just doesn’t know.  As I mentioned in a previous post, currently scientists know and understand about 4% of how the Universe works.  Put another way, we do not understand how 96% of the Universe around us works.  As a teacher, that means the Universe gets an A and we have a F and need to boost our understanding by 56% just to get a D.  Of course, for us just getting to 5% would be an improvement.

        In the film, Darko says: “I can do anything I want, and so can you.”  While discussing the short story “The Destructors” in his English class, Darko also says: “They just want to see what happens when they tear the world apart.  They want to change things.”  With these lines, it becomes clear that Darko doesn’t believe in limitations.  Specifically, he doesn’t believe that we are all trapped in the present.  Instead, he sees time as an illusion that can be manipulated by the mind.  Given the major theme of my poetry collection, it should come as no surprise that I find Darko’s beliefs to be fascinating.  Perhaps, fascinating enough to explore in another project….

        Before writing about my film influences, I hadn’t realized that two films on my list were produced by Newmarket Films.  Of course, I also didn’t realize that The Rum Diary was produced by Johnny Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil (getting ahead of myself I suppose, literary influences don’t begin until next week).  It’s amazing what you’ll find when you pay attention to the details.  You might be surprised where you’ll find interesting clues about the future.  For now, though, go ahead and watch the trailer for Donnie Darko.

Musical Influence No. 5: “Radioactive”

        I’ve always been interested in apocalyptic themes, which is probably why such themes show up in my writings.  This interest may also explain my fascination with the new song from Imagine Dragons titled “Radioactive.”  According to the song, “this is it, the apocalypse.”  Just last year, many people believed that the apocalypse was in fact upon us.  Aside from generating a few hokey movies, the Mayan apocalypse that was supposed to materialize was a bust.  Fortunately, for writes such as myself, apocalyptic projects still seem to be very much in vogue.  This year alone, films such as Oblivion, World War Z, and This Is the End have or will hit theaters.  There’s also a chance that Jaden Smith’s performance in the post-apocalyptic film After Earth will actually cause the apocalypse.

        My best apocalyptic work has come in the form of “Population Zero,” and “The Empire Falls.”  I also have a few apocalyptic story ideas floating around in my brainstorming notes.  A New Beginning…, though, doesn’t focus on apocalyptic themes.  Similar to my collection of poetry, they exist but only on an ancillary level.  Like the poetry collection, A New Beginning… is a coming-of-age story about a boy and his dog.  OK, I couldn’t help but crack a joke since I didn’t get to do that much in my poetry.  A New Beginning… is an existential journey about awakening the humanity within us all, of course, with a little bit of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll mixed in for good measure.  Speaking of which, I have some writing to do….  For now, enjoy the Imagine Dragons video for “Radioactive” below: