In New 10-DVD Collection, Stanley Kubrick Five Ways

"2001: A Space Odyssey," with Gary Lockwood, left, and Keir Dullea, has been remastered. (Warner Home Video)
By Jen Chaney
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, October 19, 2007

He was a visual master, a perfectionist, a director who reportedly shot 148 takes of the same scene and a guy who once got lost in the maze on his own "Shining" set.

He was Stanley Kubrick, one of cinema's all-time greats and the focus of the DVD collection "Warner Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick" ($79.98), a 10-disc set available Tuesday that includes five of the late filmmaker's best-known movies: "2001: A Space Odyssey," "A Clockwork Orange," "The Shining," "Full Metal Jacket" and "Eyes Wide Shut."

It would be hard to imagine five more different films, but there are undeniable threads that wind through most Kubrick works: striking visuals, a gift for marrying just the right music with those photo-perfect images and a focus on characters that burst through the boundaries of normal behavior, by, say, embarking on violent rampages, attending bizarre orgies or heading into a war zone sporting a peace symbol button and a helmet that says "Born to Kill."

All of the DVDs in this set are required viewing for any serious student of film. Of course, any serious student of film would quickly point out that other significant Kubrick works, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" and "Paths of Glory" among them, have been omitted. Kubrick's "Lolita" and "Barry Lyndon" are also being rereleased Tuesday by Warner Home Video but were left out of this collection. Still, this Kubrick set delivers remastered films, so they look sharp and sound fantastic. The audio on "2001" in particular will blow the proverbial pod doors off your spacecraft. The bonus features, including a "Life in Pictures" documentary, are also much more robust than the skimpy extras on previous Kubrick DVDs, although some of the interviews are far from recent. (Try not to giggle when, in a documentary about "Eyes Wide Shut," Tom Cruise refers to Nicole Kidman as "my wife, my co-star, my love.")

The commentary that accompanies "A Clockwork Orange" is among the most interesting as star Malcolm McDowell discusses everything from the pain of scratching his corneas during the film's famous aversion-therapy scene and Gene Kelly's anger over the film's twisted use of "Singin' in the Rain." (McDowell remembers meeting Kelly at a party: "He looked at me, quickly turned away and walked off.")

My favorite extra? "The Making of 'The Shining,' " a documentary filmed by Kubrick's then-17-year-old daughter, Vivian. Its honest depiction of life on the set, including hearing Shelley Duvall's confession that she is jealous of the attention co-star Jack Nicholson receives, makes it a refreshing change from the promotional packages that typically pass for DVD documentaries.

Although this digital tribute to Kubrick may renew one's love for these five provocative films, the set is ultimately worth owning because it paints such an illuminating portrait of the artist who inspired it. Described by "Full Metal Jacket" star Adam Baldwin in one sentence as "the most patient man I've ever met" and "the most impatient of tyrants behind the camera," Kubrick remains just as fascinating, thought-provoking and enigmatic as the films he left behind.

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