Stanley Kubrick Talks Cinema, Chess, ESP, Vietnam & His Cat in Interviews with Michel Ciment (1975–1987)

Cinephiles cer­tain­ly know the name of Stan­ley Kubrick, and die-hard cinephiles just as cer­tain­ly know the name of Michel Ciment, the French crit­ic behind cel­e­brat­ed vol­umes on such auteurs as Elia Kazan, Joseph Losey, John Boor­man, Theo Angelopou­los, Fritz Lang, and, yes Kubrick him­self. Ciment has placed the direc­tor’s work, which includes the likes of Dr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clock­work Orange, “among the most impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to world cin­e­ma in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.” In an attempt to do jus­tice to the mind of his sub­ject while writ­ing Kubrick, he put in no small amount of time with the man him­self. At the top of the post, you can hear an assem­blage of mate­r­i­al from a five-part inter­view between Ciment and Kubrick orig­i­nal­ly aired on the French radio pro­gram A voix nue, itself pieced togeth­er from a series of con­ver­sa­tions between crit­ic and direc­tor record­ed between 1975 and 1987. So we ulti­mate­ly have here, as the per­son who put the clip on Youtube notes, “a recon­struct­ed hour of Kubrick talk­ing about cin­e­ma, chess, ESP, art, writ­ing, Viet­nam, his cat, the 18th cen­tu­ry, and even Fear and Desire.”

But with this fas­ci­nat­ing mate­r­i­al comes a caveat: “As the inter­views were broad­cast for French audi­ences, a French voice-over was added through­out the entire audio in post-edit. This meant that you’d hear Kubrick talk for about three or four sec­onds and then have a trans­la­tor jump in and repeat what he said in French at a loud­er vol­ume. Usu­al­ly the trans­la­tor would step in and cut off the first or last words that Kubrick was say­ing, or some­times just talk over the top of him.” The result, with the French most­ly excised and the Eng­lish remains stitched into a solid­ly Kubrick­ian hour, does make for “a very demand­ing and irri­tat­ing way to lis­ten to the inter­views” which “involves a lot of con­cen­tra­tion to fil­ter out the inter­preter and keep piec­ing togeth­er the flow of what Kubrick says.” Yet he does say plen­ty worth hear­ing, espe­cial­ly for those already famil­iar with his fil­mog­ra­phy. But if this audio does indeed wear down your patience, feel free to check out one of the less tax­ing ways to get a dose of Kubrick and Ciment: for exam­ple, the three con­ver­sa­tions on Bar­ry Lyn­donThe Shin­ing, and A Clock­work Orange so con­ve­nient­ly tran­scribed — in Eng­lish! — at The Kubrick Site. You can also lis­ten to Stan­ley Kubrick’s 1965 Inter­view with The New York­er here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Fear and Desire: Stan­ley Kubrick’s First and Least-Seen Fea­ture Film (1953)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Daugh­ter Shares Pho­tos of Her­self Grow­ing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Stan­ley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Cre­at­ed)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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