Vivian Kubrick, daughter of the late, great filmmaker, shot a behind-the-scenes movie about the making of The Shining (1980) at the tender age of 17. For Full Metal Jacket (1987) – Stanley Kubrick’s next movie -- Vivian not only composed the score under the pseudonym Abigail Mead but she also shot 18 hours of footage for another planned documentary. That movie never came to pass and most likely never will; Vivian broke off all contact with her family in the late ‘90s.
Yet fragments of the behind-the-scenes footage have found their way into a couple of documentaries – Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, directed by Kubrick’s long time producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan and in Jon Ronson’s Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes. (Ronson actually discovered the footage in a stable house on the Kubrick estate.)
Someone has helpfully strung together the footage into a single video. See above. One of the first things that strike you is just how weird the shoot was. Though the film climaxes during the battle of Hue in tropical Vietnam, Kubrick is seen on set barking orders in a winter coat. That’s because the movie was shot in England. An abandoned gas works factory near London, of all places, served as the war torn city.
Kubrick’s famed perfectionism shines through in the video. He labors to get just the right spacing between lime-covered actors playing corpses in an open grave and he tells his actors just how many groin pulls to do during the famous “this is my rifle, this is my gun” sequence. “It should be three shakes. This is…my…gun. In time to the thing.”
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.