A long time ago, way back in, oh, let us say 1953, a former Life magazine photographer and maker of newsreel documentaries directed a film which by his own reckoning was embarrassingly unwatchable. Now, at last, nearly sixty years later, that film is being restored and readied for its first ever release to home video.
Why do we (by which I mean “I”) give half or even two-fifths of a shit about this? Because the title of the film is Fear and Desire, and the name of that young director was Stanley Kubrick.
The film received decent if not glowing reviews when it premiered, but Kubrick, who went on to earn a reputation with films like Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: a Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange as one of the most meticulous and technically flawless of all directors, considered Fear and Desire an amateur effort (the two-man crew consisted only of Kubrick himself and his wife) and did his best to hide it from public view later in his career.
(Rather like George Lucas has done with the Star Wars Holiday Special, which would mean Stanley Kubrick was Lucas in this analogy, which, except for the part where Kubrick was an incredibly talented filmmaker who made several groundbreaking and thought-provoking movies that lovers of the cinema will study for centuries, is not a bad comparison.)
Lucky for all of us who have always wanted to see Fear and Desire for ourselves, Kubrick has been dead for eleven years. And since he never actually owned the rights to the film in the first place, and potential exhibitors and distributors had just been politely honoring the wishes of the great man all these years, there is now nothing to stop the George Eastman House, one of the great film archives in the world, from restoring and releasing the rare print they recently discovered in an old abandoned Puerto Rican film lab. (I am so not making this up.)
Good news for me, Neon Reel leader and fellow Kubrick-o-phile Matt Matzen, and Kubrick fans all over the world! And, since he died in 1999 and therefore no longer exists in any meaningful way (aside from his unmatched body of work, and the family and friends whose lives he touched, blah blah blah), irrelevant news for Kubrick his none-self!
Despite it still being a bit too early to pre-order on Amazon, you can watched a somewhat inferior print of Fear and Desire on YouTube right this very second. Or you can wait for the imminent DVD/Blu-ray release. Or you can be like me, and do both.