Best of Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick is widely regarded as a master of filmmaking; some go as far as saying, ‘Kubrick’s movies are more intellectually rigorous than any other filmmaker.’ These words naturally piqued my interest in his work. The acclaimed director and screenwriter enjoyed a career spanning decades, delivering not just hits but films that provoke thoughtfulness and invite debates. Many of his works were ahead of their time, showcasing a filmmaker with meticulous attention to detail and complete mastery of the craft.

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to witness his genius and film students eager to learn the subtle nuances of filmmaking, the time has come to immerse yourself in the world of cinema through Kubrick’s eyes. If you’re wondering where to start, here is a list of six of Kubrick’s best works.

Dr. Strangelove

Does the name sound funny to you? Well, the complete name is surely gonna make you laugh, ‘Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,’ is a satire on the politics of the time especially satirizes the Cold War tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The film is revered in film circles, having developed its cult following.

Set in the Cold War era, the film follows an American general who orders an attack on the Soviet Union. The war council sits and tries to dissuade him from doing so.

I’ll be very honest; when I first watched it around 10 years ago, I thought it was good but didn’t quite understand the entire aura surrounding it. Perhaps that’s reason enough for me to rewatch this classic and see if something changed. Until then, you give it a try and make up your mind about the movie. There’s no doubt that the movie stands as a testament to Kubrick’s genius, and that’s why it is considered one of his best works.

Eyes Wide shut

Kubrick’s final directorial work is his unapologetic exploration of marriage. The film opens with the wife telling her husband about her fantasies involving another man, unsettling him and setting him on an exploration that leads him to a cult obsessed with sex. The film delves much deeper than what can be perceived on the surface, addressing less talked-about aspects of marriage openly. Therefore, a preliminary for watching ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is keeping prejudices aside to experience it as a whole rather than breaking it down into fragments for debate.

Space Odyssey

Keir Dullea

The Coming-of-Age film by Kubrick, a space film released in 1968, is one of the most influential space films of all time. At a time when not many were talking about space films, let alone exploring it, Kubrick embarked on this ambitious project based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke.

After the discovery of the monolith, the spaceship Discovery One is sent on a mission to Jupiter with two crews, but tension arises between the crew and the highly suspicious and sentient computer HAL 9000.

The film is celebrated for its stunning visual effects, use of classical music, and open-ended, thought-provoking narrative. It is often hailed as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made.

The film has since been an inspiration for many filmmakers, and if you look closely, you will see a glimpse of it in their work, the most recent being Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie.’

A Clockwork Orange

If you closely observe Kubrick’s body of work, one thing you will notice is that, unlike many filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick’s films do not adhere to the same or similar themes. With the exception of a few genres, he has explored nearly all of them, ranging from satire to sci-fi, drama to war, and horror to crime. Next on our list is his crime film ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ It tells the story of a psychopathic man who, along with his ‘droogs,’ goes on a violent spree, torturing people in the town and committing heinous crimes like rape, home invasions, and murder. When he is finally imprisoned for his crime, he opts for a government-organized experiment in exchange for a reduction in his sentence. What follows raises thought-provoking questions for viewers about the nature of morality.

The Shining

Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, ‘The Shining’ follows a man who takes on the caretaking responsibility of a large, isolated hotel. Moving in with his wife and children for a few months, he begins to succumb to the effects of isolation, descending into madness and turning violent against his own family.

The film, a psychological horror, is renowned for its eerie atmosphere and iconic scenes. It boasts some of the most intense shot composition, which heightens the impact and horror of the film.

Those familiar with Stanley Kubrick must be aware of his meticulous attention to detail. In ‘The Shining,’ his involvement in everything from art design to production details, as well as every minute aspect of the set, is evident on screen.

Well, it’s certainly not easy to make a movie that does not wither with age. Is it?


Finally, we are at the end of the list and it is my pleasure to talk about ‘Lolita’ as since I have watched this movie for the first time, I am dying to express my love for it.

Some people believe the book was better than Kubrick’s adaptation of ‘Lolita.’ I haven’t read the book, so clearly, I am not to make a comparison. For me, the story exists in the form Kubrick has told. Whether it could be better, I can’t say. What I can say is, that I loved the story and the way it is shown through Stanley’s lens. The film is a meditation on people driven to madness by what they can’t have. The story follows a man sexually fixated on a girl much younger than him. His obsession is to such an extent that he even marries the mother to stay near the daughter.

It presents an intriguing perspective on never-ending sexual desires and obsessions towards things that are morally or legally condemned. As a fan of drama movies, especially those dealing with intrinsic emotions. Lolita, despite being one of Kubrick’s early works, is more moving and resonating than most of his later films.

So, that concludes our exploration of Kubrick’s extraordinary filmography. If you’re embarking on a journey to delve into his cinema, you now know where to begin.

Pankaj Madaan

A filmmaker and a screenwriter known for his comprehensive knowledge of world cinema and insightful commentary on the Hindi film industry.

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