Wednesday, March 07, 2012

the lost footage of Stanley Kubrick

hi there

up front, please note that the title says "footage" and not "films". there shall be no discussion here of the likes of Fear & Desire, AI, The Aryan Papers, Napoleon, Perfume or even his, it is claimed, faked moon landing footage. this is instead about footage, indeed mostly completed scenes, cut by Kubrick from his films and, in all likelihood, footage that the world shall never get to see.

as of now, the only deleted scene from a Stanley Kubrick film to ever officially see light of day was the infamous "snails and oysters" sequence from Spartacus. this was cut to appease the moral censors at the time of release and was restored by Kubrick himself in the early 1990s, apparently done only because he discovered the audio intended for the scene could be recreated thanks to Anthony Hopkins being able to do a note perfect impression of the late Laurence Olivier. beyond that, it is in all likelihood the case that we have seen even more footage of his films than Kubrick ever intended, for if one follows the pattern of his constant editing (tinkering, if you will) then it stands to reason that the final cut he delivered of Eyes Wide Shut would have been given further edits before it went on general release.

be warned, for if you have for some reason you have not seen the complete works of Stanley Kubrick (shame on you), there are going to be *** SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS AHEAD ***

in regards of footage cut and gone forever, perhaps the most famous footage from Kubrick remains the "pie fight" seqeuence from Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. the world at least has some high quality still images of this, with the pictures being available on most DVD releases of the film.

the conclusion of the film was intended as a huge pie fight in the war room (that which gentlemen may not fight in), presumably intended as a symbolic gesture of the total destruction brought about by nuclear conflict, accidental or deliberate.

the images all show that the scene was filmed, but was discarded by Kubrick in favour of the "We'll Meet Again" and "I Can Walk" finale. this was, not that i am in any way in a position to cast criticism over the greatest film director of all time, an exceptionally wise move. no matter what symbolic gesture Kubrick imagined of the pie fight it would have looked like a pie fight and thus turned the film from a brilliant, dark satire into a slapstick comedy affair.

the pie fight footage was something that all were aware of for years before DVD and the very internet you currently use reported on it, and one cannot but help wonder if a certain Alan Parker was very much aware of it when he chose guns that fired rather similar pies as weapons for his musical Bugsy Malone.

discussing deleted footage from The Shining becomes an interesting affair, for there exists a number of different cuts of the film anyway. of the versions out there, the two "main" variants would the the USA DVD and the "rest of the world" DVD, with the American release running some 40 minutes longer. beyond that, though, practically every video and laserdisc release of the film has featured subtle differences in the cut.

what has not been seen since the initial, strictly limited release of the film in 1980, though, is the original ending. now, you people saw the big spoiler warning above, yeah?

the film as it is known now ends with Jack Torrence frozen to death in the grounds of the Overlook, followed by an ambiguous cut to a photograph that shows he has been frozen in time for all time. what is less well known is that another scene was filmed to go on the end of that part.

the scene takes place a short while after Wendy and Danny have been rescued from the carnage of the Overlook and finds them recovering in an unspecified hospital.

the exact details of the scene are somewhat sketchy, but the crux of it seems to be that a detective who has investigated the case is visiting Danny and Wendy to inform them that they have found "no evidence" of the supernatural incidents that they, you have to assume, had claimed they had been the victim of, and thus the case is being closed with the view that it was, for want of a better word, "simply" the case that Jack Torrence had gone insane due to cabin fever.

the shot of Shelley Duvall from this sequence suggests that she received this news with some disbelief.

i would suspect that there was to be some sort of other twist too, perhaps along the lines of Danny evoking the gift of "the shining" as a last shot, but there's nothing documented beyond what i have already said. if the scene was to only play out as described, then it is little wonder it got axed (if you will excuse the phrase), for all it would have done would be to possibly undermine all that had happened before it.

on any version of the DVD of The Shining you will get a "blink and you will miss" clue to another scene, too. in the superb "Making The Shining" documentary, there is a brief but clear shot of a decapitated female head. i've no idea where that was supposed to slot in with regards to The Shining, but the idea of a decapitated female head seems to have really, really excited Kubrick, as one was also the focus point of a notorious deleted scene from Full Metal Jacket.

very little of Full Metal Jacket is not horrifying, if we are honest, but the brutal conclusion of the "sniper" finale does tend to linger in the mind of the viewer. the simplistic, suggested horror of the moment that Pvt Joker kills the sniper was intended to be a good deal more graphic. if the film had been presented as originally intended, audiences would have seen the vicious creation that was Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin) decapitate the corpse of the sniper and use her head as some sort of football.

i say "intended" rather than "filmed" as there is some debate as to whether or not the scene was ever shot that way. for every person who says "i was there, it was filmed", another comes along and says "i was there, it was discussed but never actually filmed". we shall, presumably, never get to know the truth.

other footage known to exist from Full Metal Jacket would be the auditions for the film. Kubrick relied 100% on videotape submissions for casting, and did not meet a single actor for an audition. it would be fascinating to know of those videos still existed, if only to see which other actors tried out for the film.

in respect of the single most notorious, infamous film that Stanley Kubrick made, it is of course well known that he based his film on the edited 20 chapter version of the novel A Clockwork Orange rather than the full 21 chapter edition. what is somewhat less well known is that Kubrick filmed all 20 chapters that he was aware of, even if all of the sequences did not make it into the finished film.

the most famous such scene, and the only one we really have a tantalizing glimpse of, would have come early on in Alex and his droogs wanton celebration of ultra-violence, it being when they attacked a professor leaving a library.

for those unfamiliar with the novel, the scene involves Alex, Georgie, Pete and Dim harass a professor, destroy his books and beat him up. later in the novel the professor, as is the case with nearly all of Alex's victims, a chance meeting after the Ludovico technique renders Alex incapable of violence allows the professor to extract revenge.

why this sequence was dropped is open to debate. in all likelihood, i would imagine it was a case of the sequence being far too similar to the assault on the drunken tramp and thus was removed for the sake of running time. there is also the fact that, and this would be a flaw in the film as much as it is one of the few flaws in the novel, the idea of Alex engaging in the wanton destruction of books does not tie in at all well with the fact that his love and vast knowledge of classical music is used as a sign of a superior intelligence being at work in the character. loving classical music but hating classical texts? doesn't sound right.

a somewhat cheekier urban legend suggests that Kurbick might have "forgotten" to film the scene where the professor gets revenge later in the film, and thus dropped the initial attack for the sake of symmetry. yeah, OK, if you want to believe that one then fine, but the idea of Kubrick "forgetting" to film something does not really add up when one considers the meticulous way he made movies.

the images from this scene in A Clockwork Orange were originally displayed on the now apparently defunct website. i am sorry i cannot give exact and full credit, but i am led to believe these pictures were given over by Malcolm McDowell himself.

finally, the lost footage that there remains an outside chance of the world one day seeing. in 2010, Douglass Trumbull revealed that he had in his possession 17 minutes of unseen footage from the film 2001 A Space Odyssey.

and that is all he has said on the subject. so, in regards of what the 17 minutes may contain..... one has a clue. it could be anything from a mindblowing expanded sequence from the conclusion of the film, or it could be 17 minutes of alternate footage of the space hotel orbiting around Earth. Trumbull was involved with the special effects, so my thoughts are that he has no significant to the plot footage, instead probably scenes related to the (dazzling, in particular for the time) special effects.

the truly exciting thing about the 17 minutes of footage is, if we are to believe what Mr Trumbull claims, that it exists. chances of the world at large seeing it are limited, but at least in this case there is a chance.

the "problem" with footage that Kubrick removed is that he didn't file it away for later use - he personally oversaw the destruction of any and all footage that he did not use in his films. the famous restored sequence from Spartacus was spared presumably only as Kubrick did not have total control over that film; he was rather just the "hired director". on a similar note, there is some that would have you believe that Kubrick footage not used by Kubrick is out there in the world. rumours persist that Kubrick filmed parts of The Empire Strikes Back at the same time he made The Shining, and there are those that claim the Brando film One-Eyed Jacks does indeed feature scenes shot by Kubrick before Marlon Brando fired him and took over directing himself. both of these claims are disputed by the producers of the movies, and i leave you to make up your own mind as to whether or not Kubrick created the fake footage of the Moon landings.

on the one side, it is terribly frustrating that rubbish made by the likes of Uwe Boll, McG, Paul WS Anderson and the particularly apparently talentless Eli Roth (whose career seems based on the fact that he is mates with Quentin Tarantino) get super deluxe DVD releases showing "insights" into how they make the rubbish they do, yet when it comes to the master we have next to no footage or unused material to learn from or gain insights. that said, on the other side there is the fact that the artist himself removed and destroyed the footage, and thus perhaps we should respect his wishes and not concern ourselves with that which we have not seen, for he felt it was not worth seeing.

despite hints at film reels in documentaries such as Stanley Kubrick's Boxes, the statement from Kubrick's family is "we have no unreleased footage from any of Stanley's films and if we ever found any we would neither release it nor allow anyone to see it.". that would seem to be pretty much the final word on any quest to find lost footage, but all the same it, at least for me, is interesting to get hints of what footage Kubrick discarded, wonder why he got rid of it and ponder what it may have looked like.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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