Fear and Desire was the debut feature of Stanley Kubrick, made in his mid twenties, and pretty much lost by this thirtieth birthday. During his lifetime, Stanley frowned on requests for the film to be played at festivals or retrospectives and it was 1993 before it met a good size audience, with a screening at the Telluride Film Festival.
And now, in just a couple of weeks, the film is going to get its worldwide TV premiere, courtesy of TCM.
While Kubrick often called the film “juvenile” and “amateur,” all but discounted from his body of work and, if the rumours are to be believed, tried to horde every print he could get his hands on, Fear and Desire did garner some positive reviews. For most of my life I’ve read a lot about one scene in particular:
It’s wartime and, though the film never specifies which war, it would appear to be the second World War. Our main characters are soldiers stranded behind enemy lines.
They come across some women washing their clothes in the river, and spy on them from the bushes. They accidentally make one of the women aware that they are hiding. So that she can’t give them away, they take her off and tie her to a tree with their belts.
Soon after this, one of the soldiers is left alone to guard her… things escalate.
If you saw The Debt earlier this year, perhaps you too wondered if its big, central set piece was rooted, somehow, in this old Kubrick picture.
Since Kubrick’s death the film has played more frequently, and I’ve often been offered a DVD of it from here or there – the film is long since in the public domain and anybody who can get their hands on the material can make and sell copies.
But what’s important about the screening on TCM is that we’ll be seeing an archive print from George Eastman House, well preserved, expected to be in good quality and transferred for TV playback to a high standard.
I hope my decision to wait for a nice, well presented opportunity to see the film is finally going to pay off.
Now, it’s not just Kubrick coming out of the vaults as Fear and Desire will be screening as part of a marathon that will also include:
Huckleberry Finn (1920), Roaring Rails (1924), Goldstein (1965, pictured), A Page of Madness (1926) and Delicious (1931). Also showing is the Ava Gardner-James Mason film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) in a Technicolor restoration that was co-presented by the Eastman House.
What would be ideal are some nice Blu-ray releases for these films. Here’s hoping.
Thanks to EW for the tip.