Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 10: Thu Jan 10

Fear and Desire (Kubrick, 1953): Greenwich Picturehouse, 8.30pm

Here is the Greenwich Picturehouse introduction: Finding themselves behind enemy lines in an unnamed war zone, the crew of a crashed military plane determine to make their way back to friendly territory, led by the doughty Lt Corby. Along the way they ambush and kill two enemy soldiers, and capture and abuse a hapless peasant girl. Paul Mazurksy (who went on to become one of the most notable actors and directors of his generation) gives a great performance Pvt Sidney, a young solider traumatised and gradually deranged by the unfolding events. The inhumanity and hypocrisy of war is the essential message of this historically important film, and one Kubrick would later return to in PATHS OF GLORY and FULL METAL JACKET.

This is a rare chance to see Stanley Kubrick's debut film. The background to this movie reproduced here is taken from Wikipedia:
Fear and Desire was not a box office success, and Kubrick had to take a for-hire job directing the promotional short The Seafarers on behalf of the Seafarers International Union in order to raise funds for his next planned feature, Killer's Kiss (1954), which would be co-written by Kubrick and Howard Sackler and star Frank Silvera, one of the Fear and Desire actors.

In the years following its release, Fear and Desire seemed to have disappeared. There were stories that Kubrick had spent years acquiring all known prints of the film, with the plan of preventing it from ever being seen again. However, some prints of the film remained in private collections.
Fear and Desire had its first retrospective screening at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival. In January 1994, the Film Forum, a nonprofit art and revival theater in lower Manhattan, announced plans to show Fear and Desire on a double bill with Killer's Kiss. Although the film’s copyright lapsed and the property was in the public domain, thus allowing it to be shown without fear of legal actions, Kubrick tried to discourage it from gaining an audience. Through Warner Brothers, Kubrick issued a statement that severely downplayed the film’s value, and he called Fear and Desire "a bumbling amateur film exercise."
To date, there have been very few public screenings of Fear and Desire; the only commercially available print belongs to the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Among the rare presentations were a 1993 screening at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., a 2003 one-time screening at the Two Boots Den of Cin in New York City and an August 2008 presentation at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. Also, some clips from the film can be seen in the 2001 documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures.
In 2010, an original copy of the film was discovered at a Puerto Rican Film laboratory. On December 14, 2011, Turner Classic Movies aired a print restored by George Eastman House. Kino Video announced a Blu-ray and DVD release of the film in early 2012. It was released on October 23, 2012.

Here is the trailer.

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