The Stanley Kubrick Collection

The Stanley Kubrick Collection

Lolita, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket

(Warner Studios, 1999, VHS: $124, DVD: $140)

Box sets don't get more final than this. Not only does this collection consist of seven of Kubrick's finest film achievements, this box set also has no chance of ever being eclipsed by the director's subsequent accomplishments. Timed for release this past summer in conjunction with the theatrical distribution of Kubrick's long-awaited -- and as it turns out, final -- film, Eyes Wide Shut, this VHS/DVD collection was reported to have been personally overseen by the notoriously finicky director prior to his untimely death in March 1999.

The uncompromising perfectionism for which Kubrick was famous (or infamous) was brought to bear on the mechanical transfer of these seven film classics to home-viewing formats. In all, this master of filmmaking only directed 13 feature films throughout his nearly 50-year-long career. The seven films in this collection all date from his later works: his adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita (1962); the scorchingly funny military/nuclear-age satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964); the epic science-fiction vision 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); his controversial (banned in Britain) treatise on violence A Clockwork Orange (1971); his colorful period adaptation of Thackery's literary classic Barry Lyndon (1975); his psychological horror adaptation of a popular Stephen King novel, The Shining (1980); and his riveting anti-militaristic film Full Metal Jacket (1987).

Unfortunately missing from this collection is Kubrick's other great, passionate anti-war movie Paths of Glory (1957), but apart from that important work, all the other exclusions from this collection are perfectly understandable. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was yet to be released; Spartacus (1960), despite being a magnificent film spectacle, soured Kubrick on the studio experience and left a bitter taste in his memory; Fear and Desire (1953) was the director's first film experiment, and he actively tried to destroy all extant copies; and Killer's Kiss (1955) and The Killing (1956) were Kubrick's first "real" films, in which you can still witness the director in search of his personal style.

An "extra" included in this collection is the half-hour documentary, "The Making of The Shining," filmed on the set by the director's daughter Vivian Kubrick. It contains fascinating rare footage of the director talking, coaching, and berating his actors, Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, who appear to be near wit's end as a result of Kubrick's obsessive working methods.

The Stanley Kubrick Collection cannot make up for the fact that there will never again be a new Kubrick film to eagerly anticipate. However, it can make Kubrick fans feel confident that they possess the next best thing.

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