A bizarre and mediocre ode to Stanley Kubrick

What could I possibly write about Kubrick that hasn’t been written before? Today at least… absolutely nothing. And so, in the interests of filling a blank page with some kind of Kubrick-esque blog, here is a series of hurriedly composed haikus, chronologically ordered, on the films of Stanley Kubrick.


Flying Padre: An RKO-Pathe Screenliner (1951)

An early short film

Haven’t seen it. Would like to

An ad for a plane

Day of the Fight (1951)

A boxing doco

Strong frenetic energy

Beginnings of art

Fear and Desire (1953)

Kubrick hated it

Stuck behind enemy lines

Found quite recently

The Seafarers (1953)


Lost film until recently

Seafarers Union

Killer’s Kiss (1955)

Film-noir shot with style

Man waits for a train and thinks

First decent feature

The Killing (1956)

Brilliance begins now

Existential noir at track

Money floats in wind

Paths of Glory (1957)

Kirk Douglas at war

Obnoxious generals lie

Human lives wasted

Spartacus (1960)

Kirk Douglas a slave

Rise up against the Romans

I am Spartacus

Lolita (1962)

Nabakov on screen

Humbert Humbert is evil

Foot on camera

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

The string in my leg

Precious bodily fluids

This is the war room

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Spake Zarathustra

Open the pod bay doors please Hal.

I can’t do that, Dave

A Clockwork Orange (1971)


Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony


Barry Lyndon (1975)

Some think it’s boring

Napoleonic era

I think it’s stunning

The Shining (1980)

Overlook Hotel

Some places are like people

All work and no play

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Private Gomer Pyle

I am in a world of shit

Joker born to kill

Eyes Wide shut (1999)

Tom and Nicole star

Nature of fidelity

The final movie

A.I. (2001)

From beyond the grave

A vision not quite achieved

Tribute from a friend

James Curnow is an obsessive cinephile and the owner and head editor of CURNBLOG. His work as a film journalist has been published in a range of print and digital publications, including The Guardian, Broadsheet and Screening the Past. James is currently working through a PhD in Film Studies, focused primarily on issues of historical representation in Contemporary Hollywood cinema.

14 thoughts on “A bizarre and mediocre ode to Stanley Kubrick

  1. Hi —

    Thanks for following my Tarzana blog — perhaps you are Valley people too?

    I love these Kubrick haiku–a great synopsis of movies I won’t see, and good use of the form. I’m reminded of Kubrick every day now because of the banners advertising the MOCA show up all up and down Ventura Blvd.!

    Coco O.

  2. Ah, I love haikus. Lovely post; there’s a documentary out at the moment called Room 237 about how some people have become infatuated with The Shining. They’ve driven themself into insanity by watching it, one chap even interpreting Kubrick’s film to be about his admission that he helped videotape the fake Moon landing footage. Makes for fun viewing!

  3. Here’s one you may not know: Francis Heaney has written The Holy Tango of Literature, and includes one on Kubrick. “Holy Tango” is an anagram of “Anthology,” and the book includes poems and dramatic sketches, inspired by anagrams of the names of writers. “David Mamet” is transformed into “DAMMIT, DAVE” and folowed by a riff on 2001’s “Open the Pod Door” sequence as it might have been staged by Mamet: http://www.modernhumorist.com/mh/0101/anagram5/

    BTW, I’d say:

    Eyes Wide shut (1999)

    Tom and Nicole star

    Glorious career given

    Ignominious end

  4. What an original way to notate Kubrick’s filmography! It fascinates me that he could still make both great and awful films long after being an established director. It must have been the OCD. Some stories require a light touch, and he chose to go over everything ad infinitum once he had creative control. The unbound energy of pictures like The Killing, Strangelove, and Clockwork Orange became less and less possible.

  5. Not to be that chap, or anything, but surely one of the requirements of the haiku is a reference to nature? Either way, couldn’t agree with you more on Barry Lyndon. Still a pity he didn’t get to make the definitive Napoleon movie.

    • Wikipedia says…

      “Modern Japanese gendai (現代) haiku are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject, but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honoured in both traditional haiku and gendai.”

      I know – would have been special. I recently bought this epic hardback of Kubrick’s notes for Napoleon. Made me very happy. Was thinking of it today after a visit to the Napoleon exhibition at the NGV.

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