Following on from my recent review of Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at the London Design Museum, here are 31 of my favourite items which I found on display.
This selection reflects my own particular interests- and a very small percentage of the exhibition’s total artefacts. If you’re keen to see more, I would highly recommend a visit.
To view the photos in each section full size, simply click the image you wish to see.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Although tame by today’s standards, the levels of violence in A Clockwork Orange proved so controversial that Kubrick himself withdrew the film from British audiences. The ban remained in place until 1999.
The film is based upon Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel of the same name; the title being inspired by an old Cockney phrase; “as queer as a clockwork orange”- a term used to describe something considered bizarre or unnatural.
The story follows teenage delinquent Alex and his gang of ‘droogs’ who relish in nightly mayhem. When their spree goes too far, Alex is imprisoned for murder and he later agrees to act as a guinea pig for a new method of psychological treatment dubbed the Ludovico Technique.
Malcolm McDowell in various hats: In A Clockwork Orange, McDowell’s character, Alex famously sports a bowler hat. As these images show though, other styles were considered.
Droog costume: One of the distinctive outfits worn by the gang.
The Durango ’95 interior: This car is an exceptionally rare Adams Probe 16. In A Clockwork Orange, it is rebranded as a Durango ’95 which is stolen by Alex and his droogs and taken on a nighttime joyride.
Poster art sketches: Early ideas for the film’s poster by artist, Philip Castle. Phillip also collaborated with Kubrick to create the design for Full Metal Jacket (see below).
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Set during the Vietnam War and taking its name from a particular type of bullet casing, Full Metal Jacket is widely considered to be one of the most powerful anti-war films ever made.
Kubrick presents the movie in two distinct acts: the first details the brutal training regime designed to mould young men into United States Marines, whilst the second focuses on the conflict itself.
Despite the second part’s exotic location, Full Metal Jacket was filmed entirely in the UK with the battlefields of Vietnam- complete with palm trees- being recreated amongst the derelict ruins of Beckton Gasworks in East London.
Joker’s helmet: This is the helmet worn by Private Joker (played by Matthew Modine) which famously displays a juxtaposed ‘born to kill’ slogan alongside a badge displaying the peace symbol.
Recruitment poster: This prop can be spotted in the film’s first half which is set on South Carolina’s Parris Island; a major training centre for the U.S Marine Corps.
Clapperboard: Used on the set of Full Metal Jacket, dated 20th August 1986
Production photos: Images of Vietnamese battle zones, recreated in Beckton Gas Works.
A.I: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
In the early 1970s Stanley Kubrick acquired the rights to Ian Watson’s short story, Supertoys Last All Summer Long; a futuristic tale about a couple with an android son.
Despite hiring a team of writers and attempting to develop the project, Kubrick felt the technology available wasn’t sufficiently advanced as he planned to have the child, David portrayed in computer-generated form.
Kubrick eventually decided that his friend Stephen Spielberg would be able to bring the film to life. Sadly, Kubrick died before he was able to see the result- A.I: Artificial Intelligence– come to fruition. Spielberg dedicated the film to Kubrick’s memory.
Concept art: This sketch was created in 1995 and imagines the entry to Rouge City; a Las Vegas-esque place which is essentially one vast red-light district. The final result closely resembles this image.
Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Bomb (1964)
Dr Strangelove was originally intended to be a serious drama. However, Kubrick considered the nuclear threat to be so terrifyingly insane he figured the only way to deal with it was through a comic lens.
In the film, United States Air Force General Jack. D Ripper goes rogue and orders his squadron of B52 bombers to attack the USSR, thus threatening to spark armageddon. The movie is particularly noted for the fact that Peter Sellers plays three separate roles: RAF Group Captain Mandrake, U.S President Muffley and Dr Strangelove himself; a sinister nazi scientist.
Attack Plan R envelope: This prop is one of the top-secret envelopes containing mission details which the B52 pilots are permitted to open after receiving the order to attack Russia.
Alternative titles for Dr Strangelove: This page from Stanley Kubrick’s personal notebook is packed with ideas he brainstormed for titles- including Doctor Doomsday, The Passion of Dr. Strangelove and, most bizarrely of all, Dr Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus.
Concept artwork for the B52 bomb bay: As the B52 bomber approaches its primary target, the crew discover the bomb bay doors are jammed. Consequently, the aircraft’s commander, Major Kong climbs down in an attempt to force them open manually. This concept art suggests the plane’s two nuclear warheads were originally intended to have cartoon faces scrawled upon them. In the end, Kubrick opted for two slogans, ‘Hi There!’ and ‘Dear John’.
Slim Pickens as Major Kong: The role of B52 commander, Major Kong was originally going to be played by Peter Sellers (meaning he would have tackled four parts in total). However, when Sellers sustained an ankle injury he found it impossible to work within the cramped B52 cockpit and so former rodeo star, Slim Pickens, was brought in as his replacement. Consequently, Pickens stole the film’s most iconic scene; the moment when Major Kong rides the nuclear bomb like a bucking bronco. This production shot shows Pickens preparing for that scene.
Pilot survival kit: This comically small miniature Russian phrasebook and Bible is handed out to the B52 pilots- along with lipstick and nylon stockings (not pictured!)
The War Room: This is a scale model of the film’s famous War Room. So believable was this design, it’s said that when Ronald Reagan became President in 1981 one of the first things he requested to see was the War Room- in the mistaken belief that Kubrick had based it upon a real life installation.
An epic tale charting the true story of a gladiator who led a slave rebellion against the Roman Empire, Spartacus was Kubrick’s most ‘Hollywood’ film and, consequently, the only one he felt he didn’t have complete control over.
Kubrik on a crane: As a young man, Stanley Kubrick held a pilot’s licence but developed a morbid fear of flying after a close friend was killed in an aviation accident. This image however, taken from the set of Spartacus, proves Kubrick certainly wasn’t afraid of heights!
Roman Costumes: The toga on the left was worn by Sir Laurence Olivier who played Roman senator, Marcus Licinius Crassus.
Storyboards: One of several beautifully illustrated storyboards on display.
Script and notes: Kubrick’s personal copy of the script; a hefty tome complete with his own notes and sketches.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Covering all manner of subjects from our ancient primate ancestors to space hotels and murderous A.I supercomputers, 2001: A Space Odyssey was Kubrick’s most ambitious film. Its special effects stunned audiences in the late 1960s and still stand the test of time over 50 years later.
Costumes: An astronaut jump-suit and Pan-Am stewardess cap.
Futuristic watch and cutlery: These small items are excellent examples of Kubrick’s attention to detail. The specially designed cutlery can be glimpsed during the scene in which the crew of Discovery 1 (who are en-route to Jupiter) are eating paste-like food whilst watching a BBC broadcast- on screens which look remarkably similar to our modern day tablets.
Ape costume: Now looking a little worse for wear, this costume was used in the opening segment for 2001 in which our ancient ancestors begin to forge tools are encountering a mysterious monolith.
HAL 9000 panel: One of the ‘faces’ of HAL 9000, the computer in control of Discovery 1 who begins to develop murderous tendencies…
Hilton Space Station furniture: This funky red furniture appears in the orbiting Hilton hotel.
Pan Am Spaceplane: An intricate model of the Pan Am Spaceplane. Kubrick included such product placement to lend his movie realism- but even he couldn’t predict that the company would go bankrupt well before the year 2001!
The Shining (1980)
Although The Shining takes quite a detour from Stephen King’s novel of the same name (something which greatly frustrated the author), the film remains a masterpiece of horror.
Alongside the deeply eerie spirits and foreboding sense of isolation and madness, Kubrick employs a host of subliminal tricks to enhance the viewer’s feeling of unease. Many of the items on display in this section of the exhibition are truly iconic of late 20th century cinema.
Costumes: These are the original clothes worn by the ghostly Grady twins (played by Lisa and Louise Burns) and Danny Torrance (played by Danny Lloyd). Some conspiracy theorists have suggested that Danny’s jumper- which bears an image of the Apollo 11 rocket- is part of an elaborate secret confession in which Kubrick admits to having helped stage the 1969 moon landing….
Kubrick’s personal copy of The Shining: This is Stanley Kubrick’s personal copy of Stephen King’s novel, chock full of annotations. Kubrick was a fan of the book, but when it came to adapting it for the big screen his own creative impulses took over.
The Overlook Hotel maze: This is the original model of the Overlook Hotel’s maze which, in the movie, is displayed in a cabinet in the main hall.
Wendy’s knife: The actual knife wielded in self-defence by Wendy Torrance (played by Shelley Duvall) toward’s the film’s climax. This same prop can be seen in the poster shown above.
Jack’s typewriter: If I had to pick an absolute favourite from Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, it would be this: the very same typewriter used by Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) in a futile attempt to combat writer’s block. As we later see, the ‘work’ Jack’s produced- which was diligently typed out by Kubrick’s secretary and is also on display- is in fact a deeply disturbing symptom of his deteriorating mental state.
The end photo: In the final shot of The Shining, Kubrick has the camera slowly zoom in on this image which depicts a July 4th ball at the Overlook Hotel. As we see, Jack Torrance is clearly visible in the foreground. Only there’s one problem: the photo is dated 1921, thus making it almost 60 years old at the time The Shining is set. What do you think Kubrick was trying to suggest?
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition is on at the London Design Museum, Kensington until the 15th September 2019.