imdb description: Four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines must confront their fears and desires.
imdb rating: 5.6
From the Youtube description: Copyright expired, the film remains in public domain. Kubrick’s attempt at filmmaking as a 25-year-old kid who had just quit his full time job at Look magazine. Includes a five-minute interview with the director about the film.
Title: Fear and Desire (Restored Full Length) (1953) – Kubrick’s debut film (YT link) Uploaded by Akash Chandra.
Fear And Desire directed by Stanley Kubrick – (1953) 2 stars
Run time: 1 hour, 6 minutes. As seen in the opening moments, this is Kubrick’s first movie, which the famed director thought was so bad that he went out of his way to destroy any copies of it. A surviving copy of this movie was found, luckily, and restored so that modern audiences can comment on it. This isn’t a horribly bad movie, per se, but it does show many instances of novice directing, implausible plotting and unlikely characters.
Well, stereotypical characters actually, such as the intelligent, clean-cut pilot, the scruffy veteran grunt who wants to grab a chance at glory, and the young baby-faced soldier who mentally breaks down after witnessing men being murdered. Seen from that angle, this becomes more of a movie about philosophy than it does an action flick. This is why we are given frequent glimpses into what the characters are thinking, including the duality of the American pilot and the German general, both parts played by the same actor.
There are some good moments, but these are largely drowned out by the mistakes in the story. The feel of the movie is surreal, made even more so by the Twilight Zone / Rod Serling narration. We are looking into a microcosm of Kubrick’s head, where realism is pushed aside while the director has conversations with different aspects of his own person. The pilot is the all-American hero, the grunt is the plausible reality, and the young soldier is the reckless, carefree type who snaps under pressure. There is a fourth man in this movie, but he simply stands to one side and lets the breeze move him from one vague corner to the next. I think Kubrick hated this movie, not because it was an amateur effort, but because it gives us a clear window into the sort of man he really is. If we combine the three main characters into one, plus the German general, it would probably define Kubrick in a way that was too close for comfort.
In later movies, Kubrick covered up these vulnerabilities a lot better. In The Shining, for example, he took Stephen King’s horror novel and mangled it into the Kubrick version. He wasn’t saying, this is my interpretation of the King book, he was saying, This Is Me, and that’s why he left all sorts of clues pointing to him that movie buffs are still trying to decipher today. Not to King, not to the movie, but to Kubrick personally. This is a game where a genius is showing his true self through his work in an occult way, and Kubrick was a master at it.