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Site created 12/15/97.

page created: 7/21/99
updated: 6/15/01

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD

Over the course of his illustrious career, director Stanley Kubrick created an impressive body of film work. Sometimes controversial, and often misunderstood, Kubrick shunned the media, preferring instead to let his films speak for themselves. And speak they did - several of his films rank easily among the most influential of all time, and his signature touch on a film was nothing if not unique.

The following is a closer look at several of his films, which are now available on DVD. Simply click on a title, to read a full-length review.

Director Stanley Kubrick

Warner Home Video's original (left) and new (right) Stanley Kubrick DVD Collections
Warner Home Video's original (left) and new (right)
Stanley Kubrick DVD Collections.

Available in the Stanley Kubrick Collection (Warner Bros.)

2001: A Space Odyssey updated 5/22
Barry Lyndon updated 6/15
A Clockwork Orange updated 6/15
Dr. Strangelove updated 5/22
Eyes Wide Shut updated 5/22
Full Metal Jacket updated 5/22
Lolita updated 6/15
The Shining updated 5/22
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures added 5/22

Note that Dr. Strangelove appears in the Warner set via special arrangement with Columbia TriStar. Click here for some comments on Warner's newly-revised Stanley Kubrick Collection.

Available from MGM

Killer's Kiss
The Killing
Paths of Glory

Available from Universal & Criterion

Spartacus updated 4/5

Comments on the NEW Kubrick Collection

When Warner Bros. released their original Stanley Kubrick Collection on DVD, shortly after the director's death (and coinciding with the release of Eyes Wide Shut), it was as close as you'll ever get to a DVD train wreck. Rather than remaster the films to achieve the highest quality, Warner simply recycled the already available VHS and laserdisc transfers and released them on DVD. Simply put, the films looked awful. Really, truly awful. Naturally, critical reaction among DVD reviewers and Kubrick fans was unanimously negative (to get an idea of what we mean, you can read our comments on the original Kubrick Collection below - we weren't kind).

Thankfully, Warner quickly saw the error of their ways. In fact, word is that WHV chief Warren Lieberfarb himself inspected the discs, pronounced them trash and ordered them redone. The result is the new Stanley Kubrick Collection. The basic difference in the collection is that ALL of the films now feature remastered picture and sound. And while not all fans are going to be happy with the result (particularly those who wish to see Kubrick's 1.66 films presented in anamorphic widescreen, or those who wish for special editions of his films), we're generally very pleased with the news discs overall. This time, the new collection also includes Eyes Wide Shut, and Columbia TriStar's new special edition version of Dr. Strangelove. It also includes a terrific new documentary on Kubrick that's only available in the box - Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. So we feel that this new collection at least delivers these great films on DVD in the kind of quality they deserve to be seen in.

One last note - for more on the Stanley Kubrick Collection (outside of what you'll find in each of the updated reviews), be sure to read our interview with Leon Vitali, who was a longtime assistant to Kubrick and who supervised the new picture and sound restoration for DVD.

Comments on the ORIGINAL Kubrick Collection

Todd Doogan

Bill asked me to jot down my overall impression of the Kubrick Collection DVD set put out by Warner Bros., and he told me not to hold back my true feelings. So here I am, trying to think about how I feel... and the only thing I feel is a deadening of my soul. I am as upset with this collection as I was when I found out Kubrick died.

My heart sank in my chest when I popped the first disc into my player. I couldn't believe how awful the disc looked. At first I thought it was just me, so I called my wife Erin over, and asked her to take a look. The first thing out of her mouth was, "This looks like s**t." She, of course, was right. I wigged, man. I threw each and every disc in, and to my horror, they all looked equally bad. I slumped over and felt like someone took my favorite toy away. I am truly saddened by the whole thing. After a long wait, these wonderful masterpieces have finally been delivered to us, and I would rather have waited longer for better quality.

I hate to say this, but I think Warner misrepresented the truth when they talked about remastering these discs, and Kubrick personally approving the prints for the DVDs before he died. These appear to be nothing more the laserdisc transfers (the ones that were supervised by Kubrick almost a decade ago). Warner should really be ashamed to have their long association with Kubrick smeared by such a haphazard collection of discs. I, for one, am set back as a fan of Warner's DVD work. This is not the way Kubrick's films should be remembered -- not by a long shot.

Bill Hunt

Well, I'm not quite as angry as Doogan, because I guess I'm not too surprised by this, given all of the budget-line DVDs that Warner has been releasing. But I am equally disappointed by this DVD set. And I have to agree with Todd, that I find it hard to believe that Kubrick himself approved the prints specifically for the DVDs. Did anyone from Warner sit down with the director, and say, "Look - here's an example of how good DVDs should look. Now we want to get your films in this same quality on DVD."? Did Kubrick simply use the same standards he did years ago for laser, when judging print quality for DVD? I mean, state of the art has changed since laserdisc - analog noise abounds in these new DVDs. New, high-definition, fully-digital transfers would NOT have looked this bad. Given the perfectionist that we all knew Kubrick to be, I find it hard to believe that, if he had truly known what the possibilities were with DVD, that these discs wouldn't have looked a whole lot better. The set is NOT worth $149.92 (at their budget-line price, for that is surely what these discs are, the set would come to about $112 - and that's still too much in my opinion). I would only suggest die-hard Kubrick fans buy the whole set (if they must) - anyone else should just pick up the individual titles they want most. And do NOT pay full price, in either case - find a sale, or buy online.

In all honesty, I would much rather have seen Warner release these films in sets of two, every two or three months, leading up to Eyes Wide Shut being released on DVD. That way, they could have concentrated more on the quality of the transfers, and maybe added a few extras. There's just no way these are new transfers. I'm guessing Todd was right, and that the old, analog laserdisc masters were approved for use again. If they WERE new, there's no excuse for the fact that the widescreen titles in this set are not anamorphic.

I know Warner has commented that they had plans to do special edition versions of these films on DVD, when Kubrick had more time after Eyes Wide Shut. Sadly, now that he's gone, the opportunity to have him involved has been lost. Hopefully, we'll still get those special edition DVD versions. Because the current Kubrick Collection on DVD feels more like a marketing effort - a hasty, quickly-assembled move to capitalize... well, I'm not going to say it. But you know what I'm thinking. If this is Kubrick's legacy on DVD, I'm sorely disappointed.

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