Stanley Kubrick’s 80 Best Quotes

Stanley Kubrick's 80 Best Quotes

Stanley Kubrick (1928 – 1999) was an American director, screenwriter and photographer born in New York, USA.

This fantastic filmmaker is recognized as one of the best film directors of all time and a reference point for the seventh art. His cult films include, among others: The Shining, A Clockwork Orange or The Metal Jacket, are undoubtedly films we should all see sometime.

  • You may be interested in: “The 14 cult movies you can’t miss”

Great Reflections and Sentences by Stanley Kubrick

With this article we want to pay a little tribute to this fantastic director by sharing with you the 80 best phrases of Stanley Kubrick , we hope you enjoy them!

1. No critic has ever clarified any aspect of my work to me.

Kubrick has been criticized by people who did not really understand the value of his work.

2. I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children by using fear as motivation.

Fear can paralyze our mind so that we cannot think clearly.

3. The first really important book I read about cinema was The Film Technique by Pudovkin. At that time I had not yet touched a film camera and it opened my eyes to cutting and editing.

The work Kubrick did throughout his career was simply outstanding.

4. I never knew anything in school and I just read a book for pleasure when I was 19.

Primary education is often not given properly, and Stanley Kubrick has had it too.

5. If you can speak brilliantly enough about a subject, you will give the impression that you have mastered it.

The gift of prayer can help us appear smarter than we really are.

6. The destruction of this planet would be meaningless on a cosmic scale.

The universe is so big that the planet we live on is just a speck of dust floating in the vastness of space.

7. Making movies is an intuitive process, just as I imagine composing music is intuitive. It’s not a question of structuring a discussion.

Those who master an art are able to perform it almost without thinking, as they would say in music: playing by ear.

8. I don’t like giving interviews. There’s always the danger of being misquoted or, worse, quoted exactly what you said.

When we perform live we cannot make any kind of mistake, because it will be recorded.

9. I have always enjoyed facing a somewhat surreal situation and presenting it in a realistic way.

Kubrick is a genius of the seventh art and has produced spectacular works of all genres.

10. If it can be written or thought of, it can be filmed.

The limits in cinema are only set by our imagination.

11. If man simply sat down and thought of his immediate end and of his horrible insignificance and loneliness in the cosmos, he would surely go mad, or succumb to a numbing or soporific sense of futility.

The vastness of the cosmos is overwhelming and can make us see how small we really are.

12. Perhaps it is vanity, this idea that work is greater than one’s ability to describe it.

Stanley Kubrick has often been outdone by the genius of the work he has been able to present.

13. The sense of mystery is the only emotion that is experienced more strongly in art than in life.

Mystery can be represented very well in the cinema, but in life it is much more difficult to perceive.

14. There are few directors that you should see everything they did. I put Fellini, Bergman and David Lean at the top of my first list and Truffaut at the top of the next level.

Kubrick told us about other directors that he also admired.

15. A movie is (or should be) like music. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme comes behind the emotion, the meaning, afterwards.

How Kubrick was able to express himself through his films was certainly something very special in this great film director.

16. When a man can’t choose, he’s no longer a man.

Our power of decision allows us to be the person we are, freedom.

17. Some people may give interviews. They are very evasive and almost escape this hateful conception. Fellini is good; his interviews are very funny.

Kubrick shows his admiration for the great director who was undoubtedly Fellini.

18. I tried to create a visual experience that would transcend the limitations of language and directly penetrate the subconscious with its emotional and philosophical charge. As McLuhan would say, in 2001 the message is the medium.

Kubrick was a genius in his art, innovating with many of his films.

19. I wanted the film to be an intensely subjective experience that would reach the spectator at an internal level of consciousness as music does; to explain a Beethoven symphony would be to castrate it by raising an artificial barrier between conception and appreciation (2001).

Kubrick explains in this quote the importance he gave to the viewers’ vision of his work.

20. It is not a message I have tried to turn into words. 2001 is a non-verbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there is only a little less than 40 minutes of dialogue.

Without a doubt, Space Odyssey is a film that no one should miss, a reference in the genre of science fiction.

21. The true nature of the visual experience is to give the viewer an instant, visceral reaction that cannot and should not require further amplification.

How Kubrick developed in his work as a director can be seen in his works.

22. The timing of a movie often prevents every stimulating detail or nuance from having a complete impact the first time it is viewed.

The films seek to impact the viewer in such a way that he or she is hooked on them.

23. New York is the only really hostile city. Perhaps there is a certain element of “lumpen literati” which is so dogmatically atheistic and materialistic and terrestrial that it finds the grandeur of space and the gaze of the mysteries of the cosmic intelligence anathema.

Kubrick tells us about that great city loved by all, which is undoubtedly New York.

24. Once you accept that there are approximately one hundred billion stars in our galaxy, that each star is a sun capable of harboring life, and that there are approximately one hundred billion galaxies in the visible universe, it is viable to believe in God.

The cosmos was always something that captivated Kubrick, not in vain is an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

25. But film critics, fortunately, rarely have any effect on the general public. Theaters are full.

The critics and Kubrick didn’t get along too well, but he never cared.

26. Generally speaking, I would say that there are elements in any good film that can increase the viewer’s interest and appreciation in a second viewing.

Many of Kubrick’s films are made to be seen more than once.

I don’t agree with this idea of Arthur’s, and I think he made it in a joking tone. If someone understood it the first time he saw it, we would have failed in our intention. Why does someone have to see the film twice to get his message?

Kubrick had a very particular way of seeing cinema, which made him stand out in his own works.

28. Other ancient planets must have progressed from biological species, which are fragile carcasses for the mind, to mechanical immortal entities.

Kubrick tells us about the evolution that we humans could follow over time.

29. Children begin life with a sense of unpolluted wonder, an ability to experience total joy at something as simple as the green of a leaf; but as they grow up, the awareness of death and decay begins to permeate them and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism.

The passing of the years changes our personality and our attitude, especially with regard to how we see or relate to what life presents to us.

30. How much we could appreciate today La Gioconda if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the painting: This woman is smiling because her teeth are bare or because she’s hiding a secret from her lover. It would have taken away the appreciation of the beholder and put him in another reality than his own. I didn’t want that to happen.

The author of a work can give us a predetermined view of it to cause us contradictory emotions.

31. Our psychic shell creates a buffer between us and the paralyzing notion that only a few years of existence separate life from death.

Human beings face death in many different ways, but we all share an intrinsic hope in us that lasts a lifetime.

32. Maybe wanting to break records sounds like a very interesting way to evaluate one’s work, but I think that, especially with a film that is so obviously different, breaking audience records means that people are saying good things to others after seeing it, and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Kubrick was always aware that with his work he changed people’s lives, he was a genius very much in touch with his own artistic capacity.

33. Whether we admit it or not, in the chest of every man there is a small chest of fear pointing to this ultimate knowledge that eats away at his ego and sense of purpose.

People’s emotions can be a very difficult thing to understand, but when we find out what is eating us, we must go for it.

34. Now, our sun is not an old star and its planets are almost childish in cosmic age.

As Kubrick explains in this quote, our solar system is a young solar system, always speaking in star age.

35. Until a few years ago, cinema was excluded from the category of art, a situation that I am glad is finally changing.

Kubrick explains in this sentence his feelings towards his own art and why it should be more recognized.

36. We do not believe that we can listen to a great piece of music once, or see a great painting once, or even read a great book once.

Works of genius should be enjoyed more than once.

37. Our ability, unlike other animals, to conceptualize our own death creates enormous psychic suffering.

Kubrick explains in this quote that the thought of our own death can cause us great sorrow.

38. I do not believe in any of the monotheistic religions of the Earth, but I believe that each one can construct a scientific definition of God.

Kubrick certainly had a very personal opinion about religion.

39. When you think of the gigantic technological advances that man has made in just one millennium, less than a microsecond in the chronology of the Universe, can you imagine the evolutionary development that older forms of life may have achieved?

As Kubrick explains in this quote, theoretically an extraterrestrial civilization could have reached a brutal technological level over the millennia.

40. It is precisely the lack of meaning in life that forces man to create his own meaning.

Life can seem like nonsense to us, and we ourselves always look for a reason for things.

41. Experienced in a visual and emotional cinematic context, however, good films touch the deepest fibre of one’s existence.

Kubrick was looking to get in touch with the most personal part of all of us in his films.

42. The idea that a film should only be seen once is an extension of our traditional conception of a film as an ephemeral entertainment rather than a visual work of art.

Kubrick nourished his works so strongly that they were impossible to digest completely with a single viewing.

43. Critics all work for New York publications. Viewings in the Americas and around the world in 2001 have been 95 percent enthusiastic. Some are more perceptive than others, of course, but even those who praise the film in relatively superficial ways are able to get some of its message across.

Kubrick always had a very special relationship with critics, a constant tug-of-war throughout his career.

44. I would say that the concept of God is at the heart of 2001 but not just any traditional, anthropomorphic image of God.

His great work Space Odyssey set a precedent for what Kubrick was capable of achieving with his genius.

45. Since there is a planet in a stable orbit, neither very hot nor very cold, and given a few hundred million years of chemical reactions created by the interaction of solar energy in the chemistry of the planet, it is fairly certain that life, in one form or another, will eventually emerge.

It is a matter of mere probability that life has arisen and will arise throughout space.

46. It is reasonable to assume that there must, in fact, be hundreds of millions of planets where biological life has been born and the possibility of that life developing intelligence is high.

Kubrick was a clear advocate that life could exist beyond our own planet.

47. Certain ideas found in 2001 can, if presented as abstractions, often fall lifeless and are automatically assigned to the appropriate intellectual category.

Kubrick thought a lot about how his works would be seen by the general public and critics.

48. You are free to speculate as you wish about the film’s philosophical and allegorical meaning and that speculation is an indication that it has succeeded in taking the audience to a deeper level.

This great director always wanted to delve deep into the consciousness of his viewers.

49. I believe that if a film succeeds, it is because it reaches a wide spectrum of people who had not had a thought about the destiny of man, his role in the cosmos and his relationship with higher forms of life.

A quote in which Kubrick talks about the virtues of one of his most relevant films throughout his career.

50. I don’t want to trace a verbal path for 2001, that each viewer feels obliged to follow or even improvise the theme of having lost the thread.

This famous cult film could be difficult to follow for Kubrick’s neophyte viewer. It’s also one of Stanley Kubrick’s most memorable phrases.

51. Lucasfilm, has carried out investigations in many areas (cinema and theatre) and published the results in a report that confirms practically all its worst suspicions. For example, in one day, 50% of the prints were ruined. The amplifiers are not good and the sound is bad. The lights are uneven… etc.

Kubrick would find out about the cinemas that screened his films, because if they were not good, the film could not be seen in its fullest form by the viewer.

52. I have always liked fairy tales and myths, magic stories.

Kubrick was always a big fan of the fantasy genre, as well as literature on myths and legends.

53. Fellini, he simply makes jokes and says absurd things that he knows cannot be taken seriously during his interviews.

Kubrick talks about one of his idols and how he laughed at the criticism as well as at him.

54. They think it’s a kind of insane anxiety to worry about the theatres where my film is shown.

In this quote Kubrick talks about how people thought he was a real workaholic.

55. Great nations have always acted like gangsters, and small ones like prostitutes.

Society can be a very bizarre place and Kubrick knew what he was talking about.

56. Because, you might ask, why should I bother to write a great symphony or struggle to make a living, or even love another, when I am but a momentary microbe in a speck of dust circling in the unimaginable immensity of space?

When we become aware of how small we really are on a cosmic scale, we can appreciate the enormity of the universe.

57. Anyone who has had the privilege of directing a film knows what I am talking about: although it may be like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car at an amusement park, when you finally get it, there is no pleasure in this life that can equal that feeling.

Kubrick was in love with his work and with it he achieved his personal nirvana.

58. There is something in the human personality that resents clear things, and inversely, something that attracts puzzles, enigmas and allegories.

Human beings always tend to become obsessed or at least show great interest in the problems we encounter.

59. A director with a camera is as free as an author with a pen.

The tool by which a film director expresses himself is the camera, both photographic and video.

60. I don’t always know what I want, but I know what I don’t want.

Kubrick knew very well what exactly he didn’t want to represent with his film projects.

61. The screen is a magical medium. It has such power that it can sustain interest, as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can.

Cinema is undoubtedly one of the media that can provoke the most feelings in the spectator.

62. If the work is good, everything that is said about the general is irrelevant.

Kubrick never let himself be influenced by criticism, he was very clear about his position.

63. You sit down in front of a board and suddenly your heart skips a beat. Your hand trembles as you take a piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must stay there calmly and think about whether it is really a good idea or whether there are other, better ideas.

Kubrick was an avid chess player, and his hobby certainly helped him develop his cognitive abilities.

64. Never, ever come close to power. And don’t be friends with anyone powerful, it’s dangerous.

The corrupt always crave power, which is why most of the powerful are corrupt.

65. To make a film completely alone, something I might not have needed to know much about at first, but what I did need to know was about photography.

Photography was the passion for which Kubrick was introduced to the cinema.

66. To make a film you only need a camera, a recorder and some imagination.

With these three simple instruments anyone can record their own home movie.

67. Art consists in reshaping life but not creating life, nor causing life.

Kubrick had this particular vision of what art was for him, no doubt a very personal way of understanding it.

68. A man writes a novel, a man writes a symphony, it is essential for a man to make a film.

This great filmmaker had the primary need to express himself through his art.

69. It may sound ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers can do is take a camera and create a film of any kind.

Kubrick knew very well that the best way to learn in the world of cinema is to create films.

70. Observation is a dying art.

Kubrick knew very well as a filmmaker and photographer that the outcome of a work depends a lot on the angle from which it is viewed.

71. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear like a nuclear explosion of a firecracker.

Kubrick always had a very particular point of view about the education of the youngest.

72. However vast the darkness, we must bring our own light.

All people are unique and special, but it only depends on us how strong we are able to shine.

73. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Children’s play helps them to develop properly in the world around them.

74. The dead only know one thing, it’s better to be alive.

How Kubrick saw death and his relationship with it was certainly something very special in this fabulous filmmaker.

75. I have never been sure whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, “don’t try to fly too high,” or whether it could also be thought of as “forget the wax and feathers, and do a better job on the wings.

No doubt Stanley Kubrick had a great optimism about life, we must learn a lot from him.

76. If chess has any relationship to filmmaking, it would be in the way it helps you develop the patience and discipline to choose between alternatives at a time when an impulsive decision seems very attractive.

As a chess player, Kubrick learned some techniques such as controlling emotions and how to manage them.

77. You’re an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot.

Stanley Kubrick was always a person with a great intellect and a unique personality, qualities that were undoubtedly used when making his films.

78. Do you think that (Schindler’s list) was about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people being killed. Schindler’s List is about 600 who don’t. Anything else?

Kubrick knew how to see the positive aspect in all his films that few people were able to perceive.

79. The reason why movies are often so bad here is not because the people who make them are cynical pirates of money. Most of them are doing the best they can; they really want to make good movies. The problem is in their heads, not in their hearts.

In the seventh art, greed leads many actors and directors to do mediocre work just to make money.

80. Include complete banalities.

Kubrick talks in this quote about his film The Metal Jacket, which even though it was a cult film touched on many aspects of daily life.

Leave a Reply