There are only two directors known to film-making who I consider to be artists before directors: Pier Paolo Pasolini and Stanley Kubrick, the latter of which is regarded among the greats of cinema for his achievements in storytelling and sometimes groundbreaking displays of visual effects or impacts left on a certain genre. This is a director, however, who only helmed 13 feature films in his nearly 50 year career, yet he left no stone unturned. He tackled WWI and corrupt army politics with Paths to Glory, a rebel slave in Ancient Rome with Spartacus, an illicit affair between an older man and a young girl, in the then-shocking Lolita, a dark comedy about the Cold War in the classic Dr. Strangelove, before dazzling us with the science fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey—we haven’t even reached the 1970’s yet. With that new decade came a dystopian look at gang-ridden England with A Clockwork Orange before changing pace to direct the slower, richer, Revolutionary War-era epic Barry Lyndon. In the 1980’s, he left his mark on the horror film circuit, by turning the genre into a work of art with The Shining, before he directed the anti-war Vietnam film Full Metal Jacket. After taking a break from Hollywood, he made his return in 1999 with the ultra-mysterious and downright confusing-as-all-hell Eyes Wide Shut, before dying later that year. He left us with a wealth of incredible films, ones which are studied and dissected, but he also left us with a plethora of unfinished works as well.
Many know of his desire to make a movie about the life of Napoleon. He researched for years and read hundreds of books and actually wrote a massive screenplay complete with uniform designs and the slightest details of how the project would be filmed (you can actually purchase copies of the complete set of items at enormous prices). However, just as he was getting ready to begin production, Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic Waterloo failed miserably at the box office, and no production company would touch a Napoleonic Era film so soon, so it was shelved and never returned to. The same could be said of a Holocaust film he was working on in the early 1990’s, titled The Aryan Papers, which was quickly cast aside because of how well Schindler’s List had done. How many other screenplays did Kubrick write, that are just sitting in a vault somewhere waiting to be discovered or produced? Well, according to Deadline Hollywood, one has not only been found, but is on its way to production, and it is about the Civil War, being based on a story by the now deceased, legendary author Shelby Foote:
Entertainment One has partnered with producers Steve Lanning and Philip Hobbs’ Philco Films to produce a TV Movie and a mini-series based on two never produced screenplays by late Oscar-winning filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, Downslope and God Fearing Man. Written by Stanley Kubrick and based on a true story by Civil War historian Shelby Foote, TV movie Downslope is an epic Civil War drama following the activities of Confederate Army Colonel John S. Mosby and his plot to settle the score after Custer captures and hangs several of his men.
Is this real or am I dreaming? Is a vision of one of my favorite subjects told by one of my favorite directors really going to be coming to life? It sounds incredible to me and I am certainly beyond excited. There is no other information just yet, but I am eagerly awaiting the slightest details of the project, such as a full synopsis, cast, and director, but I suppose we are a long way off from any of that. I always wondered what Kubrick’s Napoleon film would have looked like, because he was a stickler for historical accuracy and an authoritarian on set as to how exactly he wanted everything to look. People made fun of him when filming Eyes Wide Shut, because he filmed Tom Cruise walking down a hallway 40 times (or some ridiculously high number like that) just so it would be done exactly the way he envisioned it in his head. Could you imagine if this great mind tackled the American Civil War?
We will certainly be tracking the progress of this project, so stay tuned! What are you thoughts on the matter? Comment below!