Stanley Kubrick’s Obsession with the Color Red: A Supercut

In his book, Abject Ter­rors: Sur­vey­ing the Mod­ern and Post­mod­ern Hor­ror Film, Tony Magis­trale talks about Stan­ley Kubrick­’s deep and abid­ing obses­sion with the col­or red. He writes 2001: A Space Odyssey “com­mences Kubrick­’s direc­to­r­i­al fas­ci­na­tion with vivid col­or, par­tic­u­lar­ly the col­or red, that becomes the defin­ing trait of the auteur’s sub­se­quent cin­e­ma… [T]he par­tic­u­lar use of red as the keynote col­or in Kubrick­’s cin­e­mat­ic palette speaks direct­ly to cin­e­mat­ic mean­ing: The col­or red under­scores vary­ing lev­els of phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal vio­lence present in Clock­work, The Shin­ing and Bar­ry Lyn­don; forces the view­er to make a con­nec­tion between HAL and demon­ic ener­gies in 2001; and is asso­ci­at­ed with the car­nal sex­u­al­i­ty that is present in near­ly every sequence of Eyes Wide Shut.” But it’s one thing to read about this obses­sion, and anoth­er thing to see it. Above we have ’s “Red: A Stan­ley Kubrick Super­cut,” which art­ful­ly weaves togeth­er footage from Spar­ta­cus, 2001, A Clock­work Orange, Bar­ry Lyn­don, The Shin­ing, Full Met­al Jack­et and Eyes Wide Shut. Now you’ll see what Magis­trale means.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Very First Films: Three Short Doc­u­men­taries

Ter­ry Gilliam: The Dif­fer­ence Between Kubrick (Great Film­mak­er) and Spiel­berg (Less So)

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Comments (3)
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  • Leclem says:

    Whoah… genius; “The col­or red under­scores vary­ing lev­els of phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal vio­lence”, that is so unex­pect­ed!
    FYI, you could have made the same obser­va­tions about Kubrick and his use of the col­or blue or white…

  • Dave Barak says:

    While Kubrick may or may not have had a propen­si­ty for using red, some of his use of red was in keep­ing with his­tor­i­cal or tech­ni­cal dic­tates. For instance, in Bar­ry Lyn­don, the red coats were part of a typ­i­cal mil­i­tary uni­form, and in 2001: A Space Odyssey, red light­ing is in keep­ing with the use of red light­ing at night aboard ships and air­craft; a per­son­’s eye­sight adjusts more eas­i­ly from lit areas to the dark­ness of light if the light­ing is red.

    Again, you may be right about his use of red, but some uses were essen­tial­ly unavoid­able.

  • Heather says:

    Beau­ti­ful­ly cut video. Great edit­ing job!

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