RepositoryUniversity Archives and Special Collections Centre
Ref NoSK
TitleStanley Kubrick Archive
DescriptionThe archive spans the entire of Kubrick's career from his time as a photographer for Look Magazine to his final film Eyes Wide Shut. The main concentration is of records created during the making of his films. The archive also includes records created posthumously by the Kubrick Estate relating to projects such as the creation of boxed sets of Kubrick's films, dvd and video rereleases, and documentaries and books about Kubrick and his work.

The film production material includes records created during the Development, Pre-production, Production, Post-production, Distribution and Marketing of all of Kubrick's feature films. There is also material relating to the development and pre-production of the unfinished projects Aryan Papers, Napoleon and AI Artificial Intelligence among other prospective projects. There are photographs and magazines from his Look Magazine days and items relating to two short films he was involved in before making feature films. The archive also includes business material relating to Kubrick's work and some personal items such as fan letters, correspondence, memos and equipment. There are items and film stock relating to the two making-of documentaries produced by Vivian Kubrick for The Shining (released) and Full Metal Jacket (never released).

The archive includes draft and completed scripts, research materials such as books, magazines and location photographs; set plans, production documents such as call sheets, shooting schedules, continuity reports and continuity polaroids; correspondence, props, costumes, poster designs, posters, film and video material, sound tapes and records, publicity such as press cuttings and magazines; awards and nominations, drawings and artwork and many photographs documenting the making and marketing of the films.
CreatorKubrick, Stanley
Individual or organisational biographyStanley Kubrick (1928-1999), film-maker, director, writer and producer, was born in New York on 26th July, 1928. At the age of 16 he won a competition for Look magazine after submitting a photograph of a newsvendor the day after President Roosevelt died. He continued to take photographs for Look magazine as a freelancer and by 17 he was working as an apprentice photographer there. He undertook over 300 jobs for the magazine one of which covered the story of a boxer and directly led to him making his first documentary film, Day of the Fight (1951) which he made with his high school friend, Alexander Singer. The distribution rights to Day of the Fight were sold to RKO for their 'This is America Season' for $4000 making. Kubrick a $100 profit. Day of the Fight was followed by a number of short commissioned documentaries including The Seafarers (1952, commissioned by the International Seafarers Union). Kubrick's first feature film, Fear and Desire (1953) was funded with $10 000 from Kubrick's father and a further $3000 dollars from his uncle Martin Perveler. It was co-written by Kubrick and another old school friend Howard Sackler. The film was distributed by the independent distributor Joseph Burstyn. It received good reviews and Kubrick gained recognition of his directorial talents.

Killer's Kiss (1955, production: Minotaur Productions, distributer: United Artists) followed and was once again scripted by Kubrick and his friend Howard Sackler and financed by Kubrick and his family (Kubrick's uncle this time arranging a syndicate to raise $50 000 of the $75 000 costs). Kubrick stopped filming every Friday afternoon so he could claim his cheque from the unemployment office.

In 1954 Alexander Singer introduced Kubrick to his old school friend James B. Harris. Harris a wealthy young man who wanted to get into film making formed a 3 picture partnership with Kubrick. The first Harris Kubrick production was The Killing (1956, distributor by United Artists), Harris put up 1/3 of the production cost with United Artists putting up the rest. It was shot in studio sets and around Los Angeles where the pair had moved. Harris and Kubrick then bought the rights to Humphrey Cobb's 1st World War novel, Paths of Glory and once they had Kirk Douglas on board to star in the film United Artists put up the $935 000 production costs. Although Douglas' production company Bryna Productions is credited on the film they took no part in producing or financing Paths of Glory (1957, distributor United Artists).

In 1960 Kubrick was asked by the star and executive producer of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) to take over the direction from Anthony Man. Harris and Kubrick agreed that Kubrick could be loaned to the production. This was Kubrick's first large scale project using both the widescreen format and colour filming, but he had very little control over the script and he was never quite satisfied with the work. His experience of taking over Spartacus influenced his decision to have almost total control over as many aspects of film making and marketing for all his future projects.

Lolita (production Harris Kubrick Pictures, A.A. Productions, distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.) followed in 1962, a time when content of the film still had the potential to offend censorship boards. Kubrick was acutely aware of this and its potential to damage commercial success and so the film was carefully crafted to avoid this. Lolita was also the first of Kubrick's films to be made in England, it was mainly filmed at MGM studios in Borehamwood. Initially Kubrick's move to the U.K. was financial, MGM had money that they had to spend on a U.K. film production.

Kubrick's next film, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, poduction Hawk Films, distributor Columbia Pictures Corporation), was also controversial because it tackled the idea of nuclear holocaust in a comedic fashion and also sent up the U.S. Government and Military. However the film received high critical acclaim and commercial success. It was during the development of Dr Strangelove that Harris Kubrick Pictures was dissolved (1962) and Kubrick and Harris went their separate ways. To replace the company Kubrick formed Hawk Films which would become the holding company of all his future films. Many of Kubrick's future films were produced by a subsidiary of Hawk Films which often folded after the completion of the project. According to John Baxter (Stanley Kubrick a Biography, Harper Collins 1997) these companies usually took the name of a bird for example, Peregrine Productions for Barry Lyndon and the Shining and Harrier Films for Full Metal Jacket.

Dr Strangelove was followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Production and Distribution Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.) a collaboration with sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke which won Kubrick his only ever Oscar (Special Effects). Kubrick continued to push boundaries and provoke public debate with his subject matter in A Clockwork Orange (1971, production Polaris Productions, distribution Warner Bros Inc), which contained graphic portrayals of sex and violence. Then with Barry Lyndon (1975, Production and Distribution Warner Bros Inc.), Kubrick took on a technical challenge. In order to make his 18th Century costume drama look authentic he decided it should be filmed using only natural light and candlelight. In order to do this Kubrick had to have a camera modified to hold a special Zeiss lense he had sourced. The lense had originally been developed for NASA and with a fast aperture of f.07.

The Shining (1980, Production and Distribution Warner Bros Inc.) was Kubrick's horror film, an adaption of Steven King's novel. Once again Kubrick used technical advances to create a visual effect; by employing the recently developed steadicam the camera could be carried to follow the action smoothly

The Shining was followed seven years later by Full Metal Jacket (1987, Production and Distribution Warner Bros Inc.) based on the novel The Short Timers by Gustav Hasford it covered the experiences of American Marines during training and the Vietnam War.

Kubrick's final project was Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Production and Distribution Warner Bros Inc.) based on Arthur Schnitzler's novel Traumnovelle. He had bought the rights to Traumnovelle in 1970 and had been contemplating adapting it since then.

Kubrick intended to make other films particularly, Napoleon and The Aryan Papers both of which got to the pre-production stages before being abandoned due to a number of problems. During the 1990s Kubrick periodically collaborated with Brian Adliss on the proposed film Artificial Intelligence: AI . However, special effects technology was not advanced enough and the film was finally completed by Steven Spielberg after Kubrick's death. Nevertheless, Kubrick played a very important role in formulating the story and the look of the film.

Kubrick had a high level of artistic control throughout his career and was interested in all aspects of the film making process. He collected material related to the making and marketing of his films as he worked. He moved to England in the early 1960s and regularly filmed close to his home, often working from home too, enabling him to amass his archive of material relating to all aspects of film production and distribution. As his fame grew he could also spend more time researching for his films, his famous attention to detail is another factor which helped to add to the amount of material gathered together in his archive. Having completed a project he would box up the items he had collated and store them at his home.

Kubrick had a fascination with stationery and some regard for the preservation of his archive. He collected a huge amount of stationery, from pens and notebooks to files and folders these are evidenced across the collection. He also designed boxes to hold his archives and ordered them from G.Ryder and Co. Ltd.
Related MaterialThe David Sylvester Archive at Tate Library and Archive holds materials relating to Sylvester's work for Kubrick publicising Lolita and other correspondence between them.
The Wisconsin Centre for Film and Theatre Research holds the Kirk Douglas Archive with materials relating to both Spartacus and Paths of Glory.
The V&A Museum holds original arworks by Roy Carnon including designs for 2001: A Space Odyssey


Extent873 linear metres
Access ConditionsThe University Archives and Special Collections Centre is open Monday - Friday 1-4pm. It is advisable to book an appointment in advance.
Custodial HistoryThe archive was accumulated by Stanley Kubrick and added to by his estate after his death. It was held in outbuildings and portacabins and rooms at the Kubrick family home 'Childwickbury'. The collection was donated to the University of the Arts London by the Kubrick Estate in March 2007.
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