An internal tension always exists between what we expect to see and what we actually see. Film fans should expect large doses of tension as they dive into the Contemporary Jewish Museum's current show, Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, featuring around 900 items culled from more than 10,000 bits of memorabilia left cluttering Kubrick's London estate after his death in 1999.
The retrospective argues the case for Kubrick's infamous need for total creative control—from his earliest days as a 16-year-old photographer for Look magazine to his career as the director of 16 films, Kubrick obsessed over every last detail, including scripts, photography, costumes, props, and sets, all designed to match his own particular vision—and instantly immerses viewers in the Kubrickean world-view. Even though he himself is not visible, Kubrick's presence is always felt in his work, which used angles and framing in photographs, and later the use of long tracking shots, to pull viewers into alternate worlds of his creation.
At the CJM—the exhibit's only U.S. stop before it moves on to Mexico City—you can go deep into Kubrick's mindset (if you dare) by digging into his hand-written notes on everything from principal photography shots to scripts, including the original Stephen King script for The Shining, which is covered in Kubrick's scrawl. And, you could practically go insane trying to comprehend the meticulous and intricate handmade story arc and character appearance spreadsheets for Paths of Glory (1957) and the unmade Aryan Papers, a Holocaust film that Kubrick worked on for most of his lifetime and later abandoned after the release of Spielberg's Schindler's List.
Museum-goers can also peruse groovy film props (and there are a slew of there here), including the tiny Apollo rocket sweater worn by then-six-year-old actor Danny Lloyd in The Shining; the out-there nude female statues-as-dispensers in the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange; and the actual Starchild from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There are also plenty of film clips, stills, set models (no spoiler alerts here!), costumes, cameras, lenses, and letters from works such as Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut (you'll be surprised to discover just how small and slim-shouldered Tom Cruise is once you see his masquerade costume) to fill the better part of an afternoon. // Through October 30, 2016 at Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 MIssion St. (SoMa), thecjm.org