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Kubrick the misanthrope

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film-lead-magnum-500.jpgCharles Mudede has written a rather misguided piece on Stanley Kubrick, kindly pointing out the fact that Kubrick must have been a misanthrope and hated humans: just look at his films. “No matter how far we go into the future, into space, toward the stars, we will never break with our first and violent world. Even the robots we create, our marvelous machines, are limited (and undone) by our human emotions, pressures, primitive drives. For Kubrick, we have never been modern.” Is that really what 2001 is saying? It seems to me to be misreading the ending, which for me is probably Kubrick at his most optimistic. At the very core of Kubrick’s work is this conflict between men and the machines and systems they create that invariably fail and are flawed. His treatment of technology (in every meaning the word can have) is brilliant and level-headed.

It’s not sufficient or even appropriate to say that Kubrick “hated humans,” because that doesn’t say anything about his work. If you want to talk about how his love of humans seem to be in conflict to what humans themselves do to thwart that — just think of the Ludovico technique in Clockwork Orange, the training and war in Full Metal Jacket, and the whole of 2001. What I see in Kubrick is not misanthropy but a process of dehumanization that humans create and go through. I mean, what else is there?

Mudede curiously ends his text with “We enjoy [his films] because the hate he had for humanity was only matched by the curious love he had for the most expensive and impressive art form in the world: cinema.” How can he have hated humans if his love for cinema is so great? One just has to take a good, unbiased look at his films and see that despite all the great formality, there is a heart there that is not only for art but also for all it encompasses. In sum: Mudede is an idiot.


Written by Joe

agosto 26, 2007 às 7:35 pm

Publicado em film

2 Respostas

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  1. Kubrick said, being interviewed after A Clockwork Orange that human violence was an evolutionary relic no longer necessary. I think the ‘message’ of 2001: A Space Odyssey (there’s no real message) is probably better summed up by Nietzche: “man is a rope…between ape and superman”. 2001 is a speculation on that theme.

    Notice how the apes on being inspired to use a bone to kill don’t share it with other apes but use it to gain exclusive domain over a vital resource – water. Millions of years later Dr. Floyd Heywood (of the American ‘horde’) refuses to share a recent discovery with members of the Russian ‘horde’. It’s a far more civilized encounter but essentially the same thing is going on.


    novembro 28, 2007 at 4:57 am

  2. Well said. People who see his work as misantrophic could not only be missing a lot within the films, but possibly also missing the whole concept of art.


    novembro 28, 2007 at 7:18 am

  3. Yes, accusing Kubrick of misanthropy is to ignore the very core of his cinema. Of course he is cynical, pessimistic even, but his films have a strong moral core and his moral sensibilities always shine through.

    Has anyone seen this website?


    I think those who accuse Kubrick of being nothing but a cold hearted hater of human beings, should take a look at it.


    novembro 4, 2008 at 2:08 pm

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