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Stanley Kubrick and the art of artificial theatricality

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posted on 2023-02-21, 01:17 authored by Angus Mortimer Parker

Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, producer and screenwriter whose career spanned thirteen feature length motion pictures from Fear and Desire (1953) to the posthumously released Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Kubrick’s cinematic body of work is one of the most extensively studied, across a number of fields. Even so, this thesis situates itself within a specific, pre-existing area of studies into Kubrick. The thesis considers the director’s engagement with other art forms within his film texts. In doing so its primary goal is to analyse how the director incorporates concepts or aesthetic content from other art forms or specific art works outside of the medium of cinema. It asserts that Kubrick’s films consistently call attention to their nature as constructed, artificial texts through the interpolation of concepts from other art forms both within their narratives and through their form. Therefore, prominent sub-topics of the project include the theatricality of Kubrick’s work exemplified through the employment of concepts from theatre, or his incorporation of visual art, both within his narratives and in the creation of the film texts themselves. This thesis selects three of Kubrick’s films as key texts: A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). Whilst more general scholarly works have examined artificiality and theatricality in the medium of film, my thesis draws and expands on this theoretical backing to understand how Kubrick’s implementation of other art forms to highlight the artificiality of the cinema allows for unique explorations of narrative content as well as cinematic form.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter one - A Clockwork Orange: theatricality and artifice in Kubrick’s approach to violence -- Chapter two – Barry Lyndon: theatricality and artifice in painting, performance and the aesthetics of class -- Chapter three – Full Metal Jacket: theatricality and artifice in Stanley Kubrick’s theatre of war – Conclusion -- Bibliography

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University


Thesis MRes

Department, Centre or School

Department of English

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Paul Sheehan


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53 pages

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