Auteurs Theory and Stanley Kubrick

Categories: The Shining

In this essay there will be attempted to establish Stanley Kubrick as one of the world’s best directors by using the auteur theory witch elevates a director as not just a member of the film crew but as the artist bringing his personal style and personality to a film. Kubrick’s work will be analysed in accordance with the auteur theory in other to establish that he is one of the best directors in the industry.

The auteur theory makes it possible for a film to be more than a collaborative industrial project but makes it possible for a film to be identified by its director who is seen by the auteur theory as its ultimate creator (turner 2009:53).

According to Kael (1963:12) There are three premises to the auteur theory the first is that a director must have technical competence the second that the director must have a distinguishable personality that he or she brings to her films and thirdly that interior meaning is created in the film by tension between the directors personality and the material he is directing.

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In order of a director to be perceived as an auteur he must stay true to the principles that covens the theory. Technical ability of Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick is well known for his technical prowess, Hans Feldmann (1976:12) states that technically Kubrick should be considered as one of the top 3 or 4 directors in America. Kubrick is well known for using Slow continues shots. In 2001: a Space Odyssey Kubrick shows the hole process of HAL disconnection.

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Kubrick does not use Time compression or montage but shows the whole process the scene goes against the fast paste norm of Hollywood movies but Kubrick still manages to keep his audience attention. Kubrick also uses unusual shots in his films, In The Shining Kubrick places the camera directly below Jack Nicolson, filming him form an almost vertical angel. The Shot disorientates the audience and connects to the frightening mood of the scene. Kubrick is also well known for making bold use of extreme wide angled lenses.

In a clockwork orange Kubrick uses wide angled lenses in both dolly and hand hald shots. (Stanley Kubrick film techniques). The use of music in Kubrick’s films is also unconventional. In 2001: a space odyssey Kubrick uses light classical music to in contrast to the dark theme of the film. Kubrick unconventional use of camera angles, lenses and music is never done in self indulgent manner. His techniques connect to the overall theme and feel of the film. Kubrick is not unconventional for the sake of being unconventional.

Kubrick Personal style Kubrick usually confronts his audience with an unlikeable protagonist, Kubrick plays with the audience morals and gets the audience to form an emotional bond with an unlikable main Character thus commenting about the duality of right and wrong in a individual, In the shining the main protagonist of the film goes insane and tries to kill his family. In Full metal jacket the audience form a emotional bond to a struggling private in the marines who is being bullied.

The soldier later goes insane killing his drill sergeant and himself. Is characters often face making important decisions with moral implications. Connecting to his unlikeable characters is the coldness of his films. His characters are hard to warm up to and the overall tone and feeling of his films don’t hallow audience to easily connect to the subject matter. This could be done do force the viewer to consider and think about the subject matter and not watch the film purely for entertainment.

His work does not offer essay answers put forces the audience to engage with the themes of his films. Another noticeable element of Kubrick’s personal style is his use of colour. He uses contrasting colours to enhance the visual impact of scenes in his film, using primary colours to draw attention to objects. Kubrick’s use of colour gives his film a toy like surreal atmosphere. In the shining Kubrick uses shocking colours in the individual rooms of the hotel and the carpeting of the hallways witch contrast with the frightening dark feel of the film.

In 2001: a space odyssey the film explores the complicated theme of the evolution of the human mind but the use of playful primary colours gives an uneasy feel too the film. (authentic society) Interior meaning in Kubrick films Kubrick explores deep into the philosophy about morality, his films are character studies about the workings of the modern man. According to Feldmann( 1976: 12) With a Clockwork orange, 2001: A Space odyssey and Barry Lyndon Kubrick constructs a trilogy exploring the moral and psychological nature of the modern western man and the nature of the future the western civilization is moving towards.

Kubrick’s films can create a level of confusion. Feldmann (1976:12) states that his work is technically brilliant and praised by film critics but is often seen as without any real substance, he leaves his film critics yawing. According to Feldmann(1976:12) “Stanley Kubrick apparently has nothing clear, profound or interesting to say but he says it magnificently” Feldmann continues stating that the character studies and studies into human behaviour forces his critics to take him seriously.

As Kubrick himsels states “I like slow starts, starts that go under the audience skin and involves them… [they] don’t have to be pounded over the heat with plot points and suspense hooks”(Kagan 2003:7) His work often employs character driven plots and lack of suspense which causes boredom amongst people who are use to fast pace story driven films. Kubrick believes that a real film investigates characters and the reality of life rather then telling a story. (kagan 2003:7).


In using the Three premises of The auteur theory and stating how the work of Stanley Kubrick relates to them, Kubrick use of colour, lenses and shots to enhance the visual impact of his film, his use of unlikeable characters and cold tones to get the audience to participate in his films and his character driven narratives investigating human behaviour gives his film a personal style. As an auteur Kubrick is more than just another member of the film crew he is an artist and influential to the development of motion pictures.

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Auteurs Theory and Stanley Kubrick. (2016, Sep 12). Retrieved from

Auteurs Theory and Stanley Kubrick

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