26 March 2024

Kubrick:
An Odyssey


Kubrick

Two rival biographies of Stanley Kubrick were published almost simultaneously in 1997. John Baxter and Vincent LoBrutto’s books were both unauthorised accounts, though LoBrutto’s was considerably more accurate than Baxter’s. They are now joined by a third major Kubrick biography, Nathan Abrams and Robert P. Kolker’s Kubrick: An Odyssey, which was released earlier this year.

The previous biographies were published before the release of Eyes Wide Shut—the subject of another Abrams and Kolker book—making Kubrick the first biography to cover the director’s entire career. Kubrick has the same strengths and weaknesses as their Eyes Wide Shut book: impressive research, some questionable opinions, and imprecise referencing.

Kubrick is particularly significant as the first biography based on material from the Kubrick Archive, making it more reliable than its predecessors. When Kolker and Abrams occasionally veer into speculation, though, they are on shakier ground, and their regular references to the significance of Kubrick’s Jewish identity (a thesis developed by Abrams) feel extraneous.

Kolker and Abrams are the first Kubrick biographers to receive cooperation from the director’s family, including his widow, Christiane, who gives plenty of insight into his personality. The book benefits substantially from this level of access, but it’s also a double-edged sword: Christiane’s brother, Jan Harlan, who acted as a liason, sometimes attempted to steer the authors in directions that contradicted their own research.

The biography does include a bibliography, but there are no footnotes. This makes it needlessly difficult to identify the sources of quotations, beyond those that are familiar from other publications. (Kubrick joins more than sixty other Kubrick books on the Dateline Bangkok bookshelves.)

1 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Faber and Faber: https://www.faber.co.uk/product/9780571370368-kubrick/

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