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‘He erased the entire project’ … the book Stanley Kubrick didn’t want anyone to read to be published

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the story behind the publication of a book on the films of director Stanley Kubrick, which Kubrick had tried to block from being published due to its critical analysis of his work.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Stanley Kubrick's Sensitivity to Criticism

1. What was Kubrick's reaction to a book that criticized his films?

  • Kubrick threatened legal action to block the publication of the book "The Magic Eye: The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick" by Neil Hornick, which dared to discuss flaws in his films.
  • Kubrick warned the book's author and publisher that he would "fight tooth and nail" and "use every legal means at his disposal" to prevent its publication.

2. Why did Kubrick want to block the publication of this book?

  • Kubrick complained that the book had "a summary of the good things about [each] movie followed by a summary of the bad points, which, in [Kubrick's] view, always outweigh the good on account of the overly emphatic way in which such criticisms are presented."
  • Kubrick estimated that the "unacceptable" criticisms amounted to a third of the 70,000-word manuscript, though he never specified what had caused such offense.

3. What was the author's perspective on Kubrick's reaction?

  • The author, Neil Hornick, said Kubrick's legal threats had come as a shock and he regarded it as a "painful episode."
  • Hornick was bewildered as he believed the criticisms in the book were not that extensive.

[02] The Publication of the Suppressed Book

1. What happened to Hornick's book after Kubrick blocked its publication?

  • The book remained unpublished for over 50 years, until it was recently approached by a New York-based publisher, Sticking Place Books, for publication.
  • Hornick was approached by the publisher, and the book is now being published, more than half a century late.

2. What does the publication of this book reveal about Kubrick's image-control obsessions?

  • The publisher, Paul Cronin, said Kubrick's reaction to the book "showed Kubrick's image-control obsessions taken to extremes" as "he didn't just make edits - he erased the entire project."
  • The book "offers a very precise, unbiased view of Kubrick's films," unlike many other books that are completely positive about his work.

3. How does the author feel about the book's publication after all these years?

  • Hornick writes in the preface that he thought he had finished with Kubrick, but "one is never really finished with him" as "if you've once been bitten - or is the word 'smitten'? - by the Kubrick bug, it kind of gets into your bloodstream and stays with you for life."
  • He remains interested in Kubrick to this day, despite the "sad fate" of his book.
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