An interview with Stanley Kubrick

By Vicente Molina Foix

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I think also because in order to make people believe the story it's very important to place it in something that looks totally real, and to light it as if it were virtually a documentary film, with natural light coming from the light sources, rather than dramatic, phony lighting, which one normally sees in a horror film. I compare that with the way Kafka or Borges writes, you know, in a simple, non-baroque style, so that the fantastic is treated in a very everyday, ordinary way. And I think that in the sets it's very important they just be very real, and very uninteresting architecturally, because it just means there are more compositions and more corners to go around. But they must look real.

Every detail in those sets comes from photographs of real places very carefully copied. The exterior of the hotel is based on an existing hotel in Colorado, but the interiors are based on several different places, for example, the red toilet is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed toilet which the art director found in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. It's exactly like it, color and everything. Why try to design a toilet when you not only have a real toilet with all the proportions right, but an interesting toilet too?

If you are going to build sets, it's crucially important to leave the possibilities for simulating natural light. For instance, all of the chandeliers that were built had to be very specially wired, because each of those bulbs is a 1000-watt bulb, on lower voltage, so that it's bright, but it has a warm light. If you noticed, the color and everything else in the hotel is warm - well, that's by burning 1000-watt bulbs on lower voltage. The daylight coming through the windows was simulated by a 100-foot long translucent backing, thirty feet high, on the big sets, right? And there were about 750 1000-watt bulbs behind the backing, so that the soft light that comes in from the windows is like daylight; it was really like an artificial sky. So that in the daytime it looks real. Considerations like that have to be thought of very early on, because they are really part of the making of the sets; the lighting has to be integrated very early on in the design of the set.

Are you already thinking of a new project?
No, I'm anxiously awaiting getting an idea.

(c) 1980 by Vicente Molina Foix.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

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The Stanley Kubrick Archives
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The Stanley Kubrick Archives

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