Fear and Desire: Stanley Kubrick hated his first feature film


Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, if not the greatest. His career as a filmmaker really began in 1953 when he directed his first feature film: “Fear and Desire”. A film that he nevertheless hated and denied, to the point of trying everything to make it disappear.

Stanley Kubrick: a legend of the 7th art

13 feature films in 46 years of career! A small score for a director, but each of his films has marked its time and revolutionized the history of cinema. Stanley Kubrick did not shoot much, because each of his feature films required a notorious preparation on his part. A perfectionist, almost obsessive, he held several positions on the film set: director, screenwriter, director of photography, editor, cameraman, sound director, and even producer.

Not having gone through any film school, he learned everything in the field, becoming a true autodidact. He was above all a recognized cinephile, who spent his life swallowing liters of films. It is this singular journey (associated with a temperament that is just as much) which allowed him to deliver feature films that marked the 7th art.

So The Paths of Glory at Eyes Wide Shut, Passing by 2001, a space odyssey, Clockwork Orange, Shining or even Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick had fun testing all film genres. All this with the same efficiency, at the same time visual, scriptwriting and technical. His legacy is still found today in many films as well as in some directors such as Christopher Nolan (to whom he is often compared).

However, there is a feature film that we tend to sometimes forget in our filmography: His first. It must be said that the director made sure that no one remembers it.

The failed beginnings of a great future

After working as a freelance photographer for several magazines, Stanley Kubrick began his career as a director in 1950. Thus, he produced in quick succession two documentaries which were quite successful, especially thanks to his flawless photography. This then reinforces him to make his first feature film. Fear and desire, in 1953.

With the help of his childhood friend Howard Sackler to write the screenplay, Kubrick sets up a broke film, financially speaking. Indeed, he only has a budget of 10,000 dollars, thanks to the help of his parents and uncle. The shoot went off without a hitch, except that Kubrick made the mistake of not recording the sound with the footage. The additional cost of the sound post-synchronization is then $ 30,000!

Fear and Desire © Joseph Burstyn

Fear and desire follows the fate of four soldiers on the battlefield of a war fought between two nameless countries. Resolutely anti-war film (a constant with Stanley Kubrick), it undergoes a particularly stormy first projection, during which many spectators will laugh at the film. This preview heavily affects the director, despite the fact that the overall press returns were a little more complimentary after its official theatrical release.

Movieweb reports that, according to director Paul Mazursky (who was making his film debut playing in the film), Fear and desire was a feature film rejected by the filmmaker :

Stanley tried to burn the negatives. He hated the movie. He hated him.

Considering his first work as too amateur and inept, he thus strove to try to destroy most of the copies in circulation. However, he did not achieve his ends as some survived, allowing a total restoration of the film in the 2010s.

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