Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker by David Mikics - review by Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson

A Great Director or Just a God?

Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker


Yale University Press 233pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

There’s an old but revealing joke: Steven Spielberg dies and ascends to Heaven. At the pearly gates, St Peter checks his files and says, apologetically, ‘I’m sorry, Steve. We don’t let your kind in here.’ ‘What?’ shouts Spielberg. ‘You mean Jews?’ ‘Oh no, no, of course not,’ says St Peter. ‘Heaven has no time for that sort of nonsense. We have lots and lots of Jews here. Why, the boss’s son is Jewish! No, we just don’t admit film directors.’ At that point, a slouched figure in an army jacket and baggy trousers, with thick glasses, wild hair and a wilder beard, passes through the gates. Spielberg is livid: ‘But, but… that’s Stanley Kubrick!’ ‘Oh no,’ says St Peter again. ‘That’s God. He just thinks he’s Stanley Kubrick.’

Despite having been dead for two decades, Kubrick remains the most immediately recognisable of all modern Hollywood directors. As the joke suggests, he is not so much superstar as god. A latter-day Barthes might well have fun examining the nature of this cinematic deity. Like Jehovah, Kubrick was a creator

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