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Anyone who knows film knows about the genius of Stanley Kubrick. But watching movies isn’t the only way to immerse yourself in his creative vision. That’s why we put together a list of the best books on Kubrick to offer you a wide scope on his legacy, using his movies as a roadmap into his life not only as a director, but as a friend and employer. Kubrick, who died in 1999, amassed a catalog of films that include “Dr. Strangelove,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Spartacus,” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” and for those who want to dig a little deeper into his work, books are definitely the way to go.
For the quintessential Kubrick fans, and those who may not be familiar with his movies, the list of books below include some of Kubrick’s own words from his interviews, notes, scripts, and other fun finds from his personal archive. Below, see our selection of the seven most fascinating books to add to your Kubrick collection. For more film-related literary recommendations check out our guides to the best celebrity memoirs, and best film criticism books.
Few people can say that they were as close to Kubrick as D’Allesandro, his assistant and driver. ‘Stanley Kubrick and Me: My 30 Years at His Side’ goes inside Kubrick’s extraordinary life as told by D’Alessandro who worked for him for three decades, beginning in 1971 until the director’s death in 1999. D’Allesandro was there for “A Clockwork Orange, “ “Barry Landon,” “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket,” and Kubrick’s final film, “Eyes Wide Shut.” The 390-page book shares a bit of the shadow side of Kubrick that his fans didn’t get to see. The paperback edition includes an updated forward from “Full Metal Jacket” actor Matthew Modine.
“Stanley Kubrick: A Biography,” is more of a dissection of Kubrick the man, not just the filmmaker. It was released in 1999 to coincide with the release of “Eyes Wide Shut,” which was Kubrick’s first film in a decade-long hiatus, and became his last. The extensive biography digs into Kubrick’s conflicts with partners and movie stars to his failure to make his Napoleon biopic, failed marriages, broken friendships, and the use and abuse of writers and other creative collaborators.
In “Kubrick,” Herr outlines a friendship with the director that spanned nearly two decades. The late writer and former war correspondent first met Kubrick at an advanced screening of “The Shining” in 1980. Their friendship expanded into their collaboration on the Vietnam war film “Full Metal Jacket,” which Herr co-wrote and co-produced. Kubrick features personal insight and never-before-heard anecdotes of the man behind the art.
A comprehensive collection of Kubrick’s work compiled via a collection of mostly unseen material from the late director’s archives coupled with essays from Kubrick scholars, articles about him, and his best interviews. The treasure trove of Kubrick archives include his personal notes, photographs, props, posters, artwork, set designs, sketches, correspondence, documents, screenplays, drafts, and shooting schedules.
We know about Kubrick the director, but this book digs into his production credits. By utilizing overlooked archives and lots of Kubrick projects including “The Cop Killer,” “Shark Safari,” and “The Perfect Marriage,” Fenwick serves up a comprehensive account of the legendary director’s life and career from start to finish.
Following the success of “2001 Space Odyssey,” Kubrick planned an epic biopic on Napoleon. To prepare the script, Kubrick immersed himself in researching the French military leader. He read every book on Napoleon, consulted with history experts, and amassed a massive database that included more than 30,000 illustrations and photos of potential filming locations. But M.G.M decided that the story — as Kubrick had envisioned it — wasn’t worth the budgetary risks and the film was shelved. “Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon” chronicles everything you’d ever want to know about the production that never took flight. The books features photos, notes, methods, ideas, a facsimile of Kubrick’s original script, and so much more.
Abrams dug through the archives to provide a detailed re-examination of Kubrick’s films through the context of his Jewish background. The book details themes and concepts such as masculinity and ethical responsibility. Abrams also explores Kubrick’s fraught relationship with his Jewish identity, and how his reluctance to be pegged as an “ethnic” director manifested in the removal of Jewish references and characters from stories he adapted.