By Ted Hope | Hope for Film July 19, 2011 at 3:00AM
L.M. Kit Carson, the legend, the man, returns to discuss his recent encounter with greatness, Jan Harlan, Mr. Kubrick's producer.
Read L.M. Kit Carson's last guest post for us on David Holzman'sDiary Here.
What you can find out from some semi-private time with Stanley Kubrick’s multi-movie (The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut) final producer Jan Harlan is…
…you can find out -- how totally susceptible Kubrick was to the story-power of music. A special memory kept by Harlan is seeing Kubrick struggling with how to work his movie-making-evoking of the Mystery of the Universe for 2001: A Space Odyssey – Jan (a classical musicologist) suggested trying Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathrusta” in the X scenes. As Harlan puts it: “Stanley got truly satisfied that this piece by Strauss was all he needed. To make the question remain… about whether there might be some deliberation effecting us somewhere in the Universe.”
…can find out – the subject of all Kubrick’s movies in many ways was… Kubrick. All his movie-making choices about why-and-how – mega-personal.
Harlan: “Stanley seized the rights to Peter George’s 1958 tough extreme apocalyptic political novel Red Alert – the nuclear competition between Russia and the United States was a constant Red Alert in Stanley’s mind. He kept warning his colleagues: ‘Feel like I must make a movie here now – because this world-danger is going to go wrong’. But he couldn’t find the voice that worked for this story. Then he got into a meeting with screenwriter Terry Southern who almost unexpectedly joked: ‘The only way for you to make a Kubrick movie here now – y’gotta make fun of this nuke nuttiness. We don’t know anything about what’s really going on in the nukes. So Y’gotta heighten the seriousness of your worry by making it into a comedy.’ And Stanley got it – made his own fears into his unique movie – it feels like he’s on the track of an absurd fairy tale.”
For me this insider-double-insight-combo opens up why you can feel Kubrick so strongly in the surprise unforgettable last sequence of Paths of Glory.
Battled-rattled soldiers packed drunken into a bar – banging their beer-mugs onto the tables bullying the bar-owner. He drags out mid-bar a captured young German girl goading her to sing. Hooting soldiers. The frightened girl begins to sing simply with a trembling voice. The crude shouting fades. She sings more and more near-tears. Some soldiers begin to hum brokenly along with her – and humanity fills the room – in spite of the war-horror outside.
And Genius Kubrick makes you see what he sees – the bar-room transforming. And say more – as you watch this scene, you truly see-and-feel Stanley Kubrick fall in love with the young actress playing the heart-breaking girl – Christiane Harlan. Shortly after the movie-shoot, Kubrick married her – for life. Jan Harlan’s sister.
CINEMA JOVE 2011, the international film festival’s 26th year, honored and celebrated Jan Harlan with the Luna de Valencia award (a stunning crescent-moon-shaped crystal trophy). For his 30-year creative career-work helping making movies with Kubrick. Also for his strong work now curating the archives and exhibitions spreading the brilliant cool of Kubrick in museums and schools world-wide.
With sincere modesty, Harlan raised the trophy to Kubrick: “Kubrick's films do remain as a valid marker for future generations to look into our lives in the second half of the 20th century.”
Jan Harlan recommends a special multi-part showcase he helped mount: the French Cinematheque’s current Kubrick Retrospective (March 23rd – July 31st).
CINEMA JOVE Film Festival -- End-of-June, 2011 Valencia, Spain
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--- L.M. Kit Carson
Filmmaker/Journalist L.M. Kit Carson recently jump-started back to his documentary roots – using Nokia N93 & N95 cellphonecams journeying across Africa to record a digital diary docu-series for the Sundance Channel: AFRICA DIARY. This work combines truth and heart in newsworthy reports set to air on the Sundance Channel’s 3 screens – cable-TV; computer; and cellphones – launching in Fall 2011.