Kino Lorber Releasing Stanley Kubrick's Rarely Seen First Film 'Fear And Desire' On DVD & Blu-ray This Fall

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by Kevin Jagernauth
August 6, 2012 4:51 PM
11 Comments
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Get ready, Stanley Kubrick completists, because Kino Lorber have some very exciting news for you today. Nearly 60 years after it first hit theaters, and then subsequently disappeared, only to be seen in shoddy bootlegs, the company is finally giving the iconic director's first film "Fear And Desire" a proper DVD and Blu-ray release this fall, in a newly restored edition of the film from the Library Of Congress.

But as Kubrick himself admitted, this was a movie that was very much from a first time filmmaker (he was 24 years old at the time). Describing it at one time as "a bumbling amateur film exercise," the movie stars future filmmaker Paul Mazursky and Virginia Leith, and follows a squad of soldiers who have crash-landed behind enemy lines and must work their way downriver to rejoin their unit. In the process, they encounter a peasant girl (Leith) and tie her to a tree, where she is tormented by a mentally unbalanced soldier (Mazursky).  Before making their escape, the soldiers determine the location of an enemy base and formulate a plot to assassinate its commanding officer.

Rumors spread over the years that Kubrick tried to buy up remaining prints of "Fear And Desire" and have them destroyed, and he definitely did his best to halt public screenings of the picture, but the film should still prove to be an interesting document of a master filmmaker finding his footing. "The ideas we wanted to put across were good...but we didn't have the experience to embody them dramatically," Kubrick told Alexander Walker in 1971. "It was very important to have this experience and to see with what little facilities and personnel one could actually make a film. This experience and the one that followed with 'Killer's Kiss,' which was on a slightly more cushy basis, freed me from any concern again about the technical or logistical aspects of filmmaking."

You'll be able to check it out for yourself when it arrives on home video on October 23rd. Check out the artwork below.

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11 Comments

  • simon50 | October 2, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    Accidentally posted prior comments before I could add:

    Kubrick knew what he was doing when he suppressed Fear & Desire. The film does nothing to enhance his reputation. But at least it's encouraging to aspiring filmmakers who don't hit it out of the ballpark on the their freshman efforts.

  • simon50 | October 2, 2012 5:27 PMReply

    Fear & Desire is one of the least auspicious directorial debuts imaginable. Bad acting. Bad writing. Bad continuity. Awkward camera movement. Even the mundane Killer's Kiss is a masterpiece by comparison. (though I recall ta few sparks there, particularly the climactic scenes among the mannequins)

    Kubrick didn't find his stride until The Killing - which he developed with crime noir master Jim Thompson. Thompson seems to have gotten screwed by Kubrick on screen-writing credit but Kubrick made up for it by giving what seems to have been a largely undeserved writing credit on the masterful Paths of Glory. The cynical detachment and trademark irony of Kubrick's later work seems to have begun with his collaboration with Jim Thompson, whose best novels include The Grifters, The Getaway, Pop.1280 and Nothing More than Murder

  • APeters | August 8, 2012 10:09 AMReply

    The DVD will also include Kubrick docs. The Seafarers, The Day of the Fight and The Flying Padre.

  • hank | August 7, 2012 4:45 AMReply

    His early docs are much better. This film is honestly, quite bad. If anything, it's interesting to see him learning how to make a film.

  • anon | August 7, 2012 1:55 AMReply

    YAH!

  • Glass | August 6, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    I really hope Kino did a great job restoring this (their track record isn't bad, but not Criterion-caliber). It includes his first three doc shorts too. F&D is hard to watch sometimes (so bad), but like you said, great showcase of a master filmmaker getting his footing.

  • mike_m | August 7, 2012 12:03 PM

    @The Fanciful Norwegian

    Criterion does its own restorations, much more than Kino does, but not on all films...

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | August 7, 2012 3:04 AM

    The restoration was by the Library of Congress. Kino doesn't really restore films, they release restorations done by others. (As does Criterion, for that matter.)

  • EJ | August 6, 2012 6:01 PMReply

    new 'the master' poster http://collider.com/the-master-poster/186838/

  • jimmiescoffee | August 6, 2012 5:32 PMReply

    im buying it day one. i can finally get rid of my horrible bootleg dvd download.

  • Paul | August 6, 2012 5:06 PMReply

    I might rent it to see the transfer. I have all of Kubrick's theatrical work on the Blu but I saw this when it aired on TCM & Kubrick is right, it's not very good. A very difficult 70 minutes.

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