Stanley Kubrick Production Design: A Visual Retrospective of Every Stanley Kubrick Film

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) is one of the most beloved filmmakers of all time, with a whopping 6 titles on IMDb’s Top 250  Movies list despite only winning one Oscar for Best Visual Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey. This quote from a 1968 Playboy interview with Kubrick accurately captures his World view but also the themes that made his films so interesting.

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

In addition to phenomenal themes and stories, the cinematography and production design always complimented each other beautifully in every one of his films and truly encapsulate the spirit of production design itself. Sets and mise-en-scène that create a world inside the film that is so beautiful you just want to hit the rewind button and analyze the moving pictures again and again.

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A youthful Stanley Kubrick


The Stanley Kubrick Production Design Aesthetic


Fear and Desire (1953)

Four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines must confront their fears and desires.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Art Director: Herbert Lebowitz


Killer’s Kiss (1955)

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Ready to catch a train to his hometown, a washed up boxer tells us about the strange and twisty events that happened to him the past couple of days.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: N/A
Art Director: N/A


The Killing (1956)

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Crook Johnny Clay assembles a five man team to plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Art Director: Ruth Sobotka
Set Decorator: Harry Reif


Paths of Glory (1957)

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After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Art Director: Ludwig Reiber


Spartacus (1960)

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The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: Alexander Golitzen
Art Director: Eric Orbom
Set Decorators: Russell A. Gausman and Julia Heron


Lolita (1962)

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A middle-aged college professor becomes infatuated with a fourteen-year-old nymphet.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Art Director: William C. Andrews


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

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An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: Ken Adam
Art Director: Peter Murton


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designers: Ernest Archer, Harry Lange, Anthony Masters
Art Director: John Hoesli
Set Decorator: Robert Cartwright


A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn’t go as planned.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: John Barry
Art Director: Russell Hagg and Peter Sheilds


Barry Lyndon (1975)

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An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband’s aristocratic position in 18th-century England.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: Ken Adam
Art Director: Roy Walker


The Shining (1980)

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A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: Roy Walker
Art Director: Les Tomkins


Full Metal Jacket (1987)

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A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: Anton Furst
Art Director: Keith Pain, Rod Stratfold, and Les Tomkins
Set Decorator: Barbara Drake


Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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A New York City doctor embarks on a harrowing, night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife reveals a painful secret to him.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Designer: Les Tomkins and Roy Walker
Supervising Art Director: Kevin Phipps
Set Decorator:  Lisa Leone and Terry Wells Sr.


Are you a big Stanley Kubrick fan? What movie of his do you think has the best production design?

Posted by Alison Hickey

Alison Hickey is a set designer based in Toronto. Her credits include 'Schitt's Creek', 'The Good Witch', 'Remedy', and 'Spun Out'.

  1. Every one of Kubrick’s films is stunning visually and the production design of a consistently high order. 2001 takes the gold medal by a nose from Strangelove (IMHO).

    Reply

  2. the rotating sets of 2001 were an amazing feat of engineering for the time.

    Reply

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