“Fear and Desire” (1953)
Stanley Kubrick’s feature debut (after three short subjects) as photographer, editor, producer and director, “Fear and Desire”, is an extremely low budget war drama with art house pretensions. It is a failure as a movie, but in the context of a collective lauded career, it is an interesting early hint of a young filmmaker’s desire for elitist stature as an auteur serving up pseudo- profundity in the form of unforgiving criticism on the human condition. The film follows a quartet of soldiers (introduced in one of those pretentious and unnecessary voiceovers favored by the young Kubrick) who represent not real soldiers, but a kind of universal abstraction favorable to overly zealous emerging pseudointellectual “artists” who may manipulate their characters not as true representatives of human drama, but as cogs in a grand machination furthering the director’s greater thematic designs. Even at this formative stage of the game, Kubrick’s interests clearly lie more with ostentatious abstraction than people.
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