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Review - Warner Home Video Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick (DVD-2007)
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Warner Home Video Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick (DVD-2007)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski

 

Previous DVD editions of the films of Stanley Kubrick have contained a paucity of extras since Kubrick, during his life, eschewed giving interviews or spelling out the meaning of his films or providing extra features (such as deleted scenes) or commentaries for video or DVD releases of his films.  The films had to speak for themselves, and that, they did-- most eloquently, authoritatively and powerfully. 

 

Now, just released in late 2007: a brand new Kubrick DVD edition called Warner Home Video Director’s Series: Stanley Kubrick.  It gathers together five of Kubrick’s films: 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.  It also includes the excellent Jan Harlan documentary on Kubrick from a few years back and features new remasterings of the films. 

 

But what distinguishes this new set are the astonishing extras that have finally been included.  This is the DVD set Kubrick fans have prayed for—deluxe special editions of his films unlike any that have been released before.

 

The extras included with the 2001: A Space Odyssey DVD are alone worth the price of the whole set—five documentaries about the film featuring the cream of Hollywood’s talent including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and George Lucas explaining just why this 1968 film is one of the most significant, important and artistic ever made. And even the film’s stars, Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood are still around to provide an insightful commentary track.  There is also extremely rare behind the scenes footage of Kubrick on the set of 2001, and an audio-only 76 minute 1966 interview with Kubrick which is endlessly informative.

 

On the Clockwork Orange DVD, the film’s star Malcom McDowell and film historian Nick Redman provide a magnificent commentary track.  Two documentaries about the film fully capture the intelligence that went its making and the controversy and reflection that surfaced in connection with it.  A feature length documentary on Malcom Mcdowell’s career is another extra provided. 

 

The audio conmentaries for The Shining by steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and historian John Baxter will give viewers a new appreciation of that film as will the commentaries for the Full Metal Jacket disc featuring the cast members and noted critic Jay Cocks.  New documentaries about each film are also excellent.  

 

The Eyes Wide Shut disc finally includes the uncensored orgy sequence which has never been released in the United States.  The disc also includes a treasure trove of extras about the making of the film and extensive material about Kubrick’s unfinished projects and working methods.

 

There are so many wonderful surprises in the documentaries and extras that I don’t want to spoil them here.  And the films themselves stand up to repeated viewing again and again all the while revealing new depths of insight and arousing strong, exalted, sometimes uncomfortable and disturbing, but always revealing, emotions.  In the various documentaries there is no sugar coating of the controversial Kubrick.  People tell it like it is. This makes Kubrick more flawed and human, but no less ingenious and masterful. His is a talent that ranks with D.W. Griffith in importance and influence. 

 

Run, don’t walk to a retail outlet, to obtain this essential, informative and rewarding presentation and assessment of Stanley Kubrick’s artistry and genius and enjoy his great films anew.

 

2007 Dennis Kwiatkowski/Celluloid Dreams

 

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