Last updated on October 30th, 2019
Is there anyone on the planet who hasn’t seen a Stanley Kubrick film? My Kubrick of choice, and one of my all-time favourite films, is the lesser-known Barry Lyndon, the tale of a rake’s progress where every scene is a delicious 18th century painting. To watch it is to step inside a William Hogarth, a Joshua Reynolds or a Thomas Gainsborough. Filmed entirely in natural light or by candlelight, and set to Handel’s masterpiece, Sarabande, Barry Lyndon is a feast for the eyes and the ears. And over at the Design Museum, I discover that one of the secrets to the beauty of the film is a three-wick candle, commissioned by Kubrick, and a nifty piece of kit: a NASA-manufactured lens used for the Apollo moon landings, perfect for capturing candlelight just as it would in a Hogarth painting. Another 700 objects explore all aspects of Stanley Kubrick’s incredible craft as a film maker, storyteller, editor, director and as an inventor in Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition.
Kubrick was American, but he was also a Londoner. He lived and worked here for 40 years, and most of his films were shot in or around the capital. He was a craftsman, and the last of the great analogue film directors. It becomes clear as you walk through the exhibition how prophetic he was with technology and with the game of politics. Kubrick was also a notorious control freak, involved in the nuts and bolts of every stage of the film-making process.
In a pre-Google, pre-CGI world, Kubrick would go to tremendous lengths to gather the nuggets of information he needed to create a masterpiece, and he worked with good old-fashioned film techniques using sketches, models, choreographers and designers to map out the details – down to the minutest detail.
Give yourself plenty of time to explore this exhibition. It’s massive, and it’s full of details you won’t want to miss. It’s as meticulous as the man himself and a real portrait of the artist.
This isn’t just any red carpet: it’s the retro-chic pile from hotel corridor in The Shining. The entrance to the exhibition has been decked out in Kubrick’s famous one-point perspective camera angle, a technique which has since been copied by Wes Anderson.
The Probe 16 from A Clockwork Orange (1971), designed by Dennis and Peter Adams. Only three of these were manufactured, making it one of the rarest cars ever made.
Herman Makkink’s Rocking Machine (left) from the rape scene in a Clockwork Orange, Alex’s costume and the Allen Jones-inspired Korova Milk Bar mannequin. The iconic sets in the film were designed by John Barry and the Milk Bar mannequins were produced by Liz Moore. The pair would work again on Star Wars when Moore designed C-3PO and the famous Stormtrooper helmets.
Yes, that’s the one: Jack Nicholson’s “all work and no play” letter from The Shining.
The model for the Overlook Maze in the final scenes of The Shining. “It consists of over a mile and a half of pathways and can take up to 90 minutes to find your way out of the center.”
The Grady daughters in The Shining are thought to have been inspired by Diane Arbus’s iconic “Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J, 1967.”
The Mitchell BNC Camera was an industry standard from the 1940s to the 1970s, but Kubrick had the lens rebuilt for the filming of Barry Lyndon. The new highspeed lens was made by NASA for space photography, and Kubrick used it to re-create his famous candlelight scenes. No electric lighting was used in the film.
The Star Child from Space Odyssey 2001 gazes down at the Hilton lounge. That’s good product placement if ever I’ve seen it! In the foreground, the model for the Pan American Orion III space plane.
Barry Lyndon was a portrayal of life in 18th-century Europe and almost every scene is a translation from a well-known piece of art. Kubrick’s archive includes 120 boxes filled with references torn from art books featuring paintings by Joshua Reynolds, Johann Zoffany, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, Jean-Antoine Watteau and George Stubbs. “The designs for the clothes were all copies from drawings and paintings of the period.”
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition is on at the Design Museum until 15 September.
LouiseJune 19, 2019 at 8:40 pm
This is such a cool exhibition! I was just there today for another event – but Clara was not in the mood. So it will have to be another day! Frenchie would love this too! See you soon! Can’t wait to go to the opera
ScarlettJune 20, 2019 at 6:33 am
It’s fantastic, and right up Frenchie’s street. Not sure Clara will like The Shining exhibition though!
Emma RaphaelMay 20, 2019 at 5:55 pm
Oh this looks fabulous! I hadn’t heard of Barry Lyndon, will have to seek it out. Have heard of The Shining though, the first horror film I watched (still can’t walk down a long corridor in a hotel without thinking about it! :D)
ScarlettMay 26, 2019 at 11:49 am
Ha ha, same Emma! Barry Lyndon is a visual feast.
Mandi MorrisonMay 20, 2019 at 10:42 am
What a fab exhibition, I am loving all of those iconic props from the films. I remember watching A cLockwork Orange when I was younger. #culturedkids
ScarlettMay 26, 2019 at 11:49 am
Yes, it scarred me a little as I was quite young – an iconic film.
Megan - Truly Madly KidsMay 17, 2019 at 1:44 pm
I saw this a couple of weeks ago and could have spent all day there! The detail he put into his work was incredible – even down to how the snow should ‘look’ in The Shining. Brilliant exhibition #culturedkids
ScarlettMay 19, 2019 at 10:48 am
The attention to detail is amazing, Megan. He probably drove everyone mad on set, but wow!
Lauren (Where the Wild Kids Wander)May 13, 2019 at 12:54 pm
As a Clockwork Orange fan I would love to see this! Thanks for sharing! #culturedkids
Catherine’s Cultural WednesdaysMay 12, 2019 at 3:07 pm
I love the idea of a hat test and how amazing different effect that each hat makes. #CulturedKids
ScarlettMay 13, 2019 at 11:55 am
And Malcolm McDowell looks rather fetching in those!
Karen (Back Road Journal)May 3, 2019 at 6:43 pm
I just saw Actor Malcolm McDowell stepping into the Probe 16 (not exactly easy) at the museum on the BBC and now I’m reading about the exhibit here. You are always very current with what you share with us. 🙂
ScarlettMay 3, 2019 at 7:47 pm
Thanks Karen. I was supposed to go to the museum to see him, but I was ill that day. Big regret!