October 23rd, 2012 / 9:01 am

Stanley Kubrick’s first feature film, “Fear and Desire” (1953), comes out today on Blu-Ray

Paul Mazursky in “Fear and Desire.”

What the title says. This is the first time Fear and Desire has been available on DVD.

The film was written by Howard Sackler, who later won the Tony and Pulitzer (in 1969) for his play The Great White Hope. And it stars Paul Mazursky, whom of course we all know from inventing hipster culture.

I saw it once on VHS (a terrible bootlegged copy) back in the late 1990s. I’ll be curious to revisit it. What I remember most of all is the strength of Kubrick’s cinematography (unsurprising, given his background as a photographer).

(It should be noted that Kubrick disowned the film, going so far as to block its release during his lifetime.)

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  1. Grant Maierhofer

      I really hate it when artists disown their work. I understand that there are always reasons and this was obviously when Kubrick couldn’t assert himself onto a project nearly as much as he’d like but it’s so fucking difficult to gauge their presence on a work when they’ve disowned it. The most vexing example I can think of is Pasolini and his ‘Trilogy of Life’ which is, sadly in this circumstance, my favorite collection of films the bastard ever made, and he disowned them. It’s obviously not up to me, or anybody, and I guess if I ever felt truly disgusted by something the world had received or shamefaced or whatever I’d try to distance myself from it but as a viewer, or reader, or whatever, it’s very frustrating when one of your favorites disowns one of your favorite works. That is all. Really excited for this because I too have only seen a terrible version and Kubrick’s early shit is fucking magnificent.

  2. A D Jameson

      I think he disowned it because he encountered/made some technical mistakes, and he wasn’t able to finish it the way he wanted to. But I think now enough time has passed that we won’t hold that against him! I’m eager to revisit it, because I think his early work holds up very well—I rather like both Killer’s Kiss and The Killing.

  3. Grant Maierhofer

      Interesting. It’s strange, his early work is mostly what’s been available on Netflix Instant for such a long time that I’ve become pretty acquainted with it. Also, he commissioned Jim Thompson for The Killing and other early films which makes him one of my favorite champions of writers on the outs in their later years a la Fitzgerald or Fante or Faulkner when the chips were down; which not only makes Kubrick admirable but shows he dug and advocated some compelling writing before his movies had become notably strange. Glad you mentioned this though I’d never have known and this is definitely something I’m going to buy ASAP.

  4. A D Jameson

      Jim Thompson, yes!

      I’ve wanted to see a good copy of F&D for so long, I’m kinda amazed one is now available. If you check it out feel free to write me, let me know what you think!