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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