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article imageReview: Exhibition immerses visitors in the world of Stanley Kubrick Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 6, 2014 in Entertainment
The Stanley Kubrick exhibition in Toronto provides an invaluable glimpse into the creative process of one of cinema’s most enigmatic filmmakers.
Even though he only made 16 films over 48 years, Stanley Kubrick remains one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. His movies traversed many genres, from noir thrillers to war films to political satires to science fiction. Though he was very tight-lipped, refusing to provide answers about himself or his movies, both have been extensively analysed and re-analysed with countless discoveries regarding his techniques, self-references and meticulous attention to detail. TIFF is dedicated to the exploration, celebration and understanding of film and its history, so it was only a matter of time before they devoted an exhibition to one of the world’s most creative and important directors.
The exhibition occupies 7,000 square feet on two floors of the TIFF Bell Lightbox containing nearly 1,000 artifacts and is accompanied by a film retrospective with several introductions by family, friends and colleagues. The most ambitious exhibition since the building opened in 2010, objects from each of the filmmaker’s feature productions include costumes, props, models, scripts, cameras and recreations of some of the most iconic elements of Kubrick’s pictures. Displayed chronologically, film enthusiasts, fans and the curious are exposed to an array of items that will open their eyes to the awe-inspiring world behind his camera.
Stanley Kubrick with his 35mm Eyemo camera on the set of  Killer’s Kiss
Stanley Kubrick with his 35mm Eyemo camera on the set of 'Killer’s Kiss'
“I think the casual admirer will find what it is to be a visionary artist. It’s an amazingly involved process that eventually took years to make one work,” explains Jesse Wente, director of film programmes at TIFF Bell Lightbox and co-curator of the Stanley Kubrick exhibition. “And you’ll see the early genesis of the contemporary cinema world we now live in — the huge blockbusters and multi-million dollar productions.
“If you’re a Kubrick fan,” he continues, “I think you will discover the man behind the films. So much of what the process shows us is what the man was like and he was so mysterious in life.”
Chess set on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Chess set on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Upon entering the exhibit, the first pieces displayed are Kubrick’s Oscar and Golden Lion, followed by a chess set. He was an avid player who used to hustle chess in Washington Square Park. There are also numerous photos of him playing with his actors and crew on set between shooting. A self-taught filmmaker, Kubrick wore many hats during his early productions, including director, camera operator, editor and lighting. His experience in these roles would later influence his careful control of every element of a film. Behind the scenes images, posters and production stills from Fear and Desire and Killer’s Kiss line the walls of this room.
 Paths of Glory  room at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
'Paths of Glory' room at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Paths of Glory was Kubrick’s first major motion picture. Equal parts war and anti-war movie, studios refused to produce it until celebrity Kirk Douglas was cast in the lead role. Shot in Germany, the incredibly realistic No Man’s Land setting was a result of Kubrick’s now famous attention to detail. This film would lead to an even bigger picture, which would forever change the trajectory of Kubrick’s career.
Original costumes from  Spartacus  at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Original costumes from 'Spartacus' at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
When the original director fell through, Douglas hired Kubrick to make Spartacus. In addition to two of the picture’s Roman costumes, there is an amusing photograph of a field of slain extras holding up numbered placards. Only 31 years of age, Kubrick was younger than almost everyone on the set. Combined with his exactness in everything and studio interference, the production was a trying process for director. In fact the experience was so affecting, he would move to Europe and never make another film in America.
Letters from the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency condemning  Lolita  on display at Stanley Kub...
Letters from the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency condemning 'Lolita' on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
When Kubrick acquired the rights to Vladimir Nabokov’s best-selling novel, Lolita, many questioned how a screen adaptation would even be possible. To ensure the film wouldn’t be banned from cinemas, he raised the age of the girl by two years and opted for subtle suggestions of the older man’s affections for her. Nonetheless, the picture received an “X” rating in the UK. One of the more interesting displays features letters from the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency condemning the film and thus making it a sin for Catholics to watch it.
Model of war room from  Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb  at Sta...
Model of war room from 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb' at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is the first of the exhibit’s highly stylized rooms. Pure white, a reproduction of the war room’s circular light hangs in the centre of the room over a striking miniature model of the corresponding scene. Even more intriguing is a notebook containing alternative titles for the film, including “Dr. Doomsday or How to Start World War II Without Even Trying.”
The  white room  inspired by  2001: A Space Odyssey  at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
The "white room" inspired by '2001: A Space Odyssey' at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
The area dedicated to 2001: A Space Odyssey is divided to represent the picture’s earthly aspects and interstellar side. A 10-foot tall monolith was constructed for the exhibition and sits in the centre of the one room. Also displayed are the star child and a complete ape costume. The adjoining gallery is an all-white space-inspired room with a custom-built, glowing curved wall to feature artifacts from the movie. Half of the film’s $10.5 million budget was allotted to special effects — a ratio previously unheard of — which earned Kubrick his only Oscar for special visual effects and paved the way for future sci-fi pictures such as Star Wars and Alien.
“This is a movie that transcends movies; a philosophical futurist statement,” emphasizes Wente. “I think it’s now very clearly regarded as probably the single most influential science fiction movie ever made.”
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition recreates the milk bar from  A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition recreates the milk bar from 'A Clockwork Orange'
Kubrick was used to controversy, but A Clockwork Orange exceeded anything he’d previously encountered. The picture received an “X” rating in the United States and had to be pulled from cinemas in the UK until the directors death 25 years later. The room recreates some of the pictures more provocative imageries from the milk bar as well as displays Alex’s outfit and cane. Original poster designs by airbrush artist Philip Castle decorate the wall opposite.
Original costumes from  Barry Lyndon  on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Original costumes from 'Barry Lyndon' on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Barry Lyndon was the result of an unrealized project about Napoleon and would be the most striking testament to Kubrick’s pursuit of perfection and realism. Examples of the authentically sourced 18th-century clothes that took 18 months to develop are presented as well as replicas of the candlelit props by which the entire picture was filmed using specially-designed lenses for low-light conditions, which are also on display.
“When you have an artist like Kubrick who is so precise, for whom there are no accidents in his work… There’s no light that happens to be there. It’s all purposeful. It’s all there with intent,” says Wente. “And when we have this knowledge as an audience it means everything in the movie is open for discussion, debate, inquiry — and that means when you watch these movies over and over again there’s something new every time. And the fun part of that is Kubrick meant it to be that way.”
Room dedicated to  The Shining  at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Room dedicated to 'The Shining' at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
When making The Shining, Kubrick shot more than 200 hours of footage, exhausting his actors and exceeding the average ratio by up to 20 times. After all, Wente notes, “Kubrick’s beautiful moments were the result of 50 takes.” This room is likely to be the favourite of many visitors as it features a recreation of the Overlook Hotel’s carpet. In addition, a model of the outdoor hedge maze, Jack’s typewriter, the ghostly twins’ dresses still spattered with fake blood and two of the picture’s renowned doors are shown.
Joker s  Born to Kill  helmet from  Full Metal Jacket  at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Joker's "Born to Kill" helmet from 'Full Metal Jacket' at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
A polished linoleum floor and bunk beds sourced from an army surplus outlet re-forms the barracks of Full Metal Jacket. Further examples of Kubrick’s thoroughness include him personally selecting 200 living palm trees to reconstruct Vietnam in East London and casting a real-life USMC drill instructor who improvised almost 50 per cent of his lines. Full sections of dialogue can be seen crossed out in the script pages displayed in the room, as well as Joker’s “Born to Kill” helmet shown below the Rifleman’s Creed.
The mask Tom Cruise wore in  Eyes Wide Shut  on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
The mask Tom Cruise wore in 'Eyes Wide Shut' on display at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
Kubrick’s final picture, Eyes Wide Shut, gestated for 28 years before finally going into production. He always wanted to cast a real-life couple and the film would gain notoriety for featuring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman before their eventual divorce. Walking through a black curtain, visitors enter the world of seduction. In addition to the 13 Venetian masks presented, the original mask worn by Cruise is exhibited.
The final room projects a montage revealing the recurring patterns in Kubrick’s films that become apparent after repeat viewing. From references to chess to camera movements, the installation groups together a series of interrelated scenes that illustrate the filmmaker’s incessant self-referencing.
“The films are endlessly fascinating, endlessly readable and I don’t think that stops,” says Wente.” I think we’ll still be reading these films, 50 to 100 years from now. “
The immersive exhibition runs until January 25, 2015 at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox.
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