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Art, Chris Gibbs Diary

Feelin’ Like Stanley Kubrick – this is some visionary shit!

The Legacy of Stanley Kubrick

LACMA delivers through June 30th with an awe-inspiring exhibit, Union was there, and after taking the work in for a few hours, one thing became very clear. Stanley Kubrick is far more than just a Hollywood director, he is, simply put, an artistic icon. During his career, Kubrick explored, and experimented with, every possible genre of film, and managed, in doing so, to consistently break barriers. Unparalleled in his catalog of work, Kubrick’s films are so diverse and celebrated that it is hard to fathom that one man could not only imagine so much in a single life time, but also succeed in bringing it to fruition.

Walking into LACMA I was excited to say the least. I had barely slept the night before, opting to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick’s 1968 classic instead. After purchasing my tickets and making my way to the front of the exhibit, I was immediately thrust into the mind of the mad genius - two giant screens lit scenes from Full Metal Jacket while speakers attacked my ear drums, briefly making me question whether I was Los Angeles or on Parris Island, screaming the mantra “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” I came to my senses and entered the main hall of the show, running straight into a vast wall of movie posters.

It took a good ten minutes to absorb the pure unadulterated radness that a wall full of original Kubrick posters offered, but eventually one must part with perfect moments and reenter this dimension. However even after successfully dealing with the state of shock the movie posters put me in, I was not prepared for what came next in the 2001: A Space Odyssey room.

The first thing one sees when entering the room is the breathtaking print of the moon scene.

As I stood there admiring the image, what transpired would be the most cathartic experience of the afternoon. I began to get an eerie feeling. At first I shook it off as the noise of those around me, but as I stood still, I felt a magnetic pull to the black monolith leaned against the wall. staring deeply into the monoliths I began to hear voices…

Suddenly I felt petrified, unable to move my body, captivated by the infinite depths contained in this great marker of human evolution. Information began to flow freely through my mind, questions and answers to life’s greatest mysteries danced at the front of my consciousness, I began to understand what it is we are here to do, and just as I began to realize the significance of the experience I was consumed by, the feeling vanished into the background chatter of the on-looking general public. After catching my breath and realizing I was perhaps better off being ignorant to the great truths that haunted the greatest minds of our time, I resumed my journey.

Detail, every possible region of film he covered, Kubrick was a master of understanding the significance of everything from whole room decoration to individual pieces of silver wear, even if they played no significant role in the production, Kubrick knew that every aspect was vital to a films success, no matter how minuet or unimportant they may seem.

As the journey through Kubrick’s career lead on, I next made myself in the room dedicated to A Clockwork Orange, the 1971 cult classic. The first object that caught my eye was the life-sized dummy dressed as if he was part of Alex’s ultra-violent, milk chugging, gang of adolescence. So well put together, just being present in the room made me feel like breaking someone’s door down, masked and laughing along with the rest of the gang. After remembering I didn’t have the foot strength to commit such an act, or a talented enough attorney to beat it, let alone any attorney, I made my way to the next room.

As I entered the next space, I was quickly reminded why I have yet to watch The Shinning, Kubrick’s 1980 timeless thriller, halting abruptly, my eyes met the two hatchets stuck to the wall. This visual imminently transported me to every nightmare from my youth I had only recently gotten over.

“I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.”

Few moments and film are timeless, but I would have to argue that Private Joker explaining his peace sign and born to kill helmet combination might be one of those moments. Kubrick was able to portray whatever realm he wanted to explore in the realist sense possible, his movies always on the verge of a new type of fictional film consciousness. Walking through the small room of Full Metal Jacket memorabilia, I was entrenched in the self aware realization that immortality is nothing but a dream and youth is fleeting. No other circumstance puts young adults in front of their own mortality quite like war, and even thinking about it gave me the unshakable feeling that at any moment this beautiful experience could end, or depending on what you believe, be transported into an unknown entirely new consciousness. Though thoughts like these can sometimes get the better of us, it is important to know that constantly worrying about the inevitable serves no purpose, and it is better to remind oneself of the good in this world.

Thankfully for me, the next item my eyes came in contact with was a mural of Joker and his troop joyfully trotting though the burning apocalypse of another destroyed Vietnamese city crooning the Mickey Mouse song.

Transporting oneself into that moment perfectly connects the serious and surreal of life with its simple pleasures, boys not old enough to legally drink trotting happily through the burning wasteland, singing a childhood obsession as the flames dance in the foreground, Another shining example of Kubrick’s ability to accurately portray any situation, tapping into the root of what makes us human.

After a good amount of time in the Full Metal Jacket room I had come full circle, finding myself back in the front room of the exhibit. A sense of accomplishment overcame me as I looked back upon the great Career of Kubrick. Satisfied I was about to make my exit when something caught the corner of my eye. It was a miniature of the war room from Dr. Strangelove, though I had never seen the movie before I am familiar with the room.

As I strained my eyes to look inside a smile overcame my stone like expression. At that moment the significance of the experience hit me faster than Bowman entered Jupiter’s atmosphere. I had first hand experienced the works of one of the greatest mind in film, and I’m better off for it.

Well that’s about it, go check it out, you will not be disappointed. One.


Stay tuned for more of Intern Luke's questions and answers to life’s greatest mysteries. THANKS LUKE!