Kubrick, Vivian


Kubrick, Vivian
(1960– )
   STANLEY KUBRICK’s daughter by his third wife, CHRISTIANE KUBRICK, is the youngest of Kubrick’s three daughters. At age five she appeared in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as the daughter of Dr. Heywood Floyd, chairman of the National Council of Astronauts. Floyd (WILLIAM SYLVESTER) puts in a videophone call to his daughter while he is en route to the Moon on a spaceship, and talks with her while viewing her on a TV screen. He inquires what she wants for her birthday, and she requests a bush baby. Pauline Kael, who wrote a vociferous review of 2001, scoffed at this scene. She termed 2001 “the biggest amateur movie of them all, complete even to the amateur-movie obligatory scene—the director’s little girl (in curls) telling daddy what kind of present she wants. ” By contrast, other critics found this little vignette charming.
   While in her late teens,Vivian Kubrick directed a half-hour documentary, The Making of “The Shining,” which was originally screened on the BBC arts program Arena in 1980, the year THE SHINING was released. It provides the only filmed record of Stanley Kubrick at work on a film. Since Kubrick granted his daughter unlimited access to the set, the documentary shows various aspects of the filmmaking process—technicians lighting the set, actors rehearsing their dialogue, the director revising a scene that does not work.
   Vivian Kubrick’s cinema verité documentary shows her father “chatting, cajoling, and fussing over his work,” film historian Richard Combs comments. One is surprised to hear Kubrick speaking with a Bronx accent, recalling the section of New York City where he grew up—despite the fact that he had been living in England since the early 1960s. At one point Kubrick is seen sitting in a corner of the soundstage, flailing away at a portable typewriter with his two index fingers, utilizing the hunt-and-peck system of typing, in order to grind out a rewrite of the scene at hand.
   Gertrude Kubrick, the director’s mother, is shown listening to JACK NICHOLSON explain how additional pages of last-minute revisions which are inserted into a shooting script are customarily printed on different-colored paper, in order to indicate that they supersede earlier versions of the same material. Nicholson jokes that Kubrick makes so many revisions in the script during rehearsals that at times he feels as if “we are just making it up as we go along. ” Kubrick’s directions to the actors during rehearsals are simple and to the point; when he is dissatisfied with one of Nicholson’s line readings, he states with quiet persuasion that it sounds “phony. ” Nicholson subsequently comments in the documentary, “When I disagree with a director, I want them to have control. ”
   In 1996 Vivian Kubrick’s Making of the Shining resurfaced on British TV. On the occasion of a retrospective of Kubrick’s films on BBC Channel 4, a documentary entitled The Invisible Man was broadcast, which in fact incorporates much of the footage of The Making of the Shining. The London Times published an article which was ostensibly about The Invisible Man, but focused mostly on the material from The Making of “The Shining. ” Referring to Kubrick as the “tinsel-town tyrant,” the piece described a purported scene in Vivian Kubrick’s documentary in which SHELLEY DUVALL, who plays Nicholson’s beleaguered wife in the film, has retreated to her dressing room in tears, only to have Kubrick shamble in,“shouting and swearing at her”; he drags her back to the set, declaring, “I have no sympathy for Shelley. ”
   Richard Combs states that the London Times account is a blatant misdescription of this scene in The Making of “The Shining. ” He says,“Shelley Duvall isn’t weeping”; she is sniffling because she has a typical English cold. Furthermore, Kubrick does not barge in and drag her back to work, but escorts her back to the set. Moreover, Kubrick’s remark about having no sympathy for Duvall is misquoted, as Combs notes; it is rather “part of a joking exchange” between him and the cast. In the documentary at this point Kubrick mischievously tells the cast, “Don’t sympathize with Shelley”; he then explains to her,“It doesn’t help you,” (in her characterization of the distraught wife, who gets no comfort from her heartless husband). Throughout the documentary Kubrick appears to manifest a great deal of self-control, as he calmly explains to cast and crew what he wants in a given scene.
   Shelley Duvall says in the course of the documentary that Kubrick’s “volley of ideas and butting heads” with her has brought out in her performance more than she knew she had in her. “I really like him as a director and as a person,” she concludes. “He taught me more in this film than I learned in any of the other films I’ve done. ”
   Principal photography on The Shining ran from May 1978 to April 1979—46 weeks. Gordon Stainforth, an assistant editor on The Shining, helped Vivian edit her documentary during the summer of 1979. Excerpts from The Making of “The Shining” are included in the feature-length documentary about Kubrick, produced during 2001 by veteran members of Kubrick’s production staff and entitled STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES, directed by JAN HARLAN; the documentary is included on the DVD release of The Shining.
   Vivian Kubrick went on to compose the background music for FULL METAL JACKET seven years later, under the pseudonym of ABIGAIL MEAD.
   References
   ■ Combs, Richard, “Kubrick Talks!” Film Comment 32, no. 5 (September/October 1996), pp. 81–84;
   ■ Kael, Pauline, Going Steady (New York: Marion Boyars, 1994), pp. 121–124.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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