Released in 1956, a heist film, that still stands tall; The Killing is written by Kubrick and Jim Thompson and based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel Wilde. It’s a film that contemporary film-makers often look at for advice and inspiration; and there are even some like Quentin Tarantino, who venerates the film. Tarantino publicly admits the impact Stanley Kubrick’s film had on writing and filming ‘Reservoir Dogs.’
To set aside the magic of its imagery and camera angles, at heart a film noir, The Killing, I think stands tall, and this is my opinion, due to it being strongly and strictly a individualistic type of a film, for Kubrick provided his films from the beginning a unique personality. – You can also read Roger Ebert’s expert analysis of the film. – The Killing, when it was released Kubrick was 28; he was also a photographer for the Look magazine and a devoted chess player. But, to make films, intact, as a film-maker what helped Kubrick I think is his work of photography. I’ve mentioned to friends before and I say it again to be a film-maker, you have to possess a vision, for if one lacks vision, even if a script on the table is solid, the end product will end up being poor.
Kubrick, of course, proved to the world his vision as he continued to make films. I don’t think he ever envisioned to simply showing himself as being just a film-maker. What he, instead, did, something that I really admire, is that he spent the time to show us his unique personality behind his oeuvre; his mindset as a true artist. He always had a point of view, yet different his points are depending on the personality of his films. The Killing is a heist picture; and as Roger Ebert puts it, heists films, much like horror films, is a genre.
So, Kubrick’s style, in The Killing, the shadows and the camera movements, in which he directs his characters in, not stars, sets the tone to simply generate a sense of understanding the movie language. To him it was never a problem if it was the heist, horror, action, drama or comedy genre to tackle. Kubrick knew from the beginning the language of films. This brings us back to his photographic vision. He was a natural born artist; a true visionary.
In The Killing, as you will notice, something that I find so distinct, are the characters in the frame, especially how like a photograph, they not even at times, but always, appear as if they’re choreographed. It’s as if every spot on the floor is reserved for every individual; often it feels like Kubrick on purpose is counting the steps of the characters, as to whom from who should stand still for the frame and exactly where. This is part of the vision of a great artist. I have also seen David Fincher performing such act on the set with his actors. Though, this could be the case with majority of the film-makers, but Kubrick’s been quite adamant about it.
It is essential to comprehend the language of cinema, but also it is essential to write a language of your own as a writer or a director.
The Killing; Paths of Glory; The Shining; his magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey, and rest of his work, are all work of different personalities generated from the personality of one being, whom we know as Stanley Kubrick.