One of the first things I said to Katharina Kubrick when I interviewed her on July 1, 2016, was that for every question I asked her, there would be another 100 that would have to go unasked. That’s the tyranny of time, and, to be fair, a week with this charming, witty, and vivacious woman would barely be able to scratch the surface of her life with her step-father, Stanley Kubrick. The director raised Katharina as his own after marrying her mother, Christiane Kubrick, and so when she describes him as, aside from being a genius of a filmmaker, as a normal schmo, well, attention must be paid.
The couple were inseparable, and the picture that Katharina paints of family life is one that is close-knit and wonderfully normal, with the exception of people like Paul Newman dropping by. The occasion of the interview was the opening of Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, the traveling retrospective that had just opened at the Contemporary Jewish Museum,and my first question was about how the family wanted the exhibit to set the record straight about the man who made, among others, DR. STRANGELOVE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and BARRY LYNDON. We went on to talk about Kubrick’s unique creativity that led him to push the limits of technology, but also come up with the perfectly workable idea of using paper costumes for extras that would be deep in the background of his famous deep focus shots. We also touched on the edits that were forced on his final film, EYES WIDE SHUT, after Kubrick’s sudden death, and finished up with Katharina musing on why her father’s films inspire so much passion in their viewers.
Kubrick appeared in her father’s films, as a dancer in BARRY LYNDON, a patient’s mother in EYES WIDE SHUT, and as girl walking by Alex in the record store in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, but she chose to make a career behind the camera, including having her paintings grace the walls of the apartment when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman lived in EYES WIDE SHUT. She also designed the metal teeth worn by Richard Kiel as the bond villain Jaws in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. She currently devotes her time to painting and designing jewelry.
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, currently at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, originated at the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main and covers not only Kubrick’s completed films, but also the ones that he was forced to abandon, including THE ARYAN PAPERS, and NAPOLEON, for which he had planned more of his groundbreaking innovations. Included in the exhibit are costumes, models, and even the Star Child from 2001, as well as Kubrick’s photographic work form his early career as a photojournalist, and part of his vast camera collection.