Kubrick's sources

Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 7:19 PM

Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was known to be a perfectionist, sometimes demanding up to 100 takes from his actors. But one of the lesser known facts about the eccentric director is that he was also a voracious reader, just as comfortable surrounded by a stack of books as he was behind the camera. That might explain why almost all of his films are based on novels, including A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or my personal favorite, Barry Lyndon.

Today, in honor of Kubrick's birthday, I thought I'd share one of my latest finds on Google Book Search. Here in full text is The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq., the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray that Kubrick adapted for the screen in 1975. It tells the story of a down-and-out social climber who plays at being a British nobleman. The film version is considered legendary among film buffs for its innovative cinematography, its epic scale, and (of course) Kubrick's painstaking attention to detail.

While researching for the film, Kubrick strived to become an expert on how people lived in the 1700s, absorbing historical details like the prevalence of wig lice and the kind of toothbrushes people used. But for all his dedication to recreating the time period, Kubrick is also known for taking liberties with his source material, injecting it with his unique sense of irony and dark humor. If you're a Kubrick fan, you may want to check out the novel to discover how his vision transformed Thackeray's depiction of 18th-century British life.


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