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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