There is probably no other twentieth century film director whose films have been as obsessively analyzed and dissected as those of Stanley Kubrick. This is true of both mainstream movie buffs as well as conspiracy theorists, a state of affairs that has at times baffled "serious" film critics. After all, Kubrick's films have achieved a degree of box office success largely unparalleled for a director with such a peculiar style.
Despite often working within genres (i.e. science fiction, horror, and war films) perceived as crowd pleasers Kubrick's films are often deliberately paced and fixated upon the darkest aspects of human nature (the word "dehumanization" is regularly evoked when discussing Kubrick). The director largely abandoned any pretext of developing realistic characters by the early 1960s, leaving his films populated effectively by two types characterization: human beings almost completely devoid of all emotions and who function in a robot-like fashion (i.e. 2001 and Eyes Wide Shut) or characters whose features and mannerisms are so manic that they are essentially caricatures of common archetypes (Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, etc).
The paranoid, clinical atmosphere many of Kubrick's films evoke combined with such a bizarre approach to characterization has left more than a few critics (and viewers) cold over the years. His style is in stark contrast to someone such as Steven Spielberg, a friend of Kubrick's and a filmmaker who has at times been compared to him. While both directors got a lot of mileage out of groundbreaking special effects over the years, Spielberg's success was largely rooted in his ability to take science fiction out of distant worlds and galaxies and place it in modern American suburbs populated by characters who are thoroughly Every Men/Women. This added a warmth to Spielberg's films that average Americans could easily identify with in a gerne that was not always known for such things. Legendary horror writer Stephen King (whom Kubrick famously clashed with over his adaptation of The Shining) accomplished much the same thing in his respective field.
|Spielberg would eventually helm A.I., a project begun by Kubrick before his death, with mixed results|
Needless to say, this is not the type of atmosphere commonly associated with big budget genre films. And yet the bulk of Kubrick's films, even those that have not been initial box offices successes, have ultimately resonated with audiences in a profound way. Kubrick's movies effect people deeply even though many viewers are consciously baffled by what the films are trying to express.
The power of Kubrick's films is of course obvious to those of you who are synchro-mystically inclined: They resonate on a largely subconscious, symbolic level. Even the notorious conspiracy theorist and "former" Naval intelligence officer William Cooper was aware of this dynamic and expressed it as well as anyone during his breakdown of 2001 in the midst of his famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) "Mystery Babylon" broadcasts:
"Most people who saw that movie did not understand – from beginning to end – what it was that they had experience, but they knew, everyone who saw it, that they had experienced something profound; that something had been communicated to the dark, deep recesses of their mind, which they did not understand, and indeed, which they were incapable of understanding..."
(James Shelby Downard's Mystical War, Adam Gorightly, pgs. 78-79)
Indeed, the visuals themselves at times seem to be telling a different story than the one being depicted in the film. Because of this it could be argued that the bulk of Kubrick's latter films can be perceived as having a macrocosmic and microcosmic narrative. The Shining, for instance, is superficially a story about an alcoholic father who loses his mind while working as a caretaker at an isolated hotel (the hotel was of course haunted in the Stephen King novel upon which the film is based by Kubrick leaves thinks a bit more ambiguous in his version) during the winter and attempts to murder his family. But as some viewers having compelling argued, it can also been seen as an examination of the dark side of Manifest Destiny with allusions to both white colonial enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans. It can also be taken as an exploration of the laden psychosis behind the American nuclear family. And virtually all of this is conveyed through props (i.e. the prominently displayed baking powder cans with a Native American's profile on the label), the sets (the Overlook and its Native American decor) and certain memes (i.e. the heavily loaded expression "White man's burden" grumbled by the Nicholson character).
"A favorite moon mystery of a number of conspiracy theorists is the allegation that famed director Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo moon landings in exchange for a virtually unlimited budget to film his classic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick solved the problem of making shots on the surface of the moon look expansive by employing the cinematic technique of front screen projection (FSP). Long before the days of computer-generated imagery (CGI) movie magic, the FSP process projected scenes behind actor, so it would appear to the camera as if the actors were moving around on the set provided by the FSP. Actors could move around in a vast studio while it appeared that they were laboriously walking on moonlike scenes projected behind them."
(Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies, Brad and Sherry Steiger, pgs. 306-307)
Occultist Jay Weidner perceived coded messages of Kubrick's involvement in the faked Apollo landing in The Shining as well. Interestingly, there's a curious sequence in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever in which the legendary British spy stumbles upon a film crew shooting a moon landing on a vast sound stage located within a thinly veiled depiction of Area 51. This is just one of many sequences with Diamonds that is most peculiar. Compelling conspiratorial interpretations of Diamonds have been offered up by David Hatcher Childress in his "James Bond & the Gemstone File" essay found in Inside the Gemstone File and by Loren Coleman on his blog.
|one of the many loaded scenes from Diamonds Are Forever|
But before beginning to delve in, however, a final note should be made about Kubrick: The director seems to have been aligned (probably very loosely) with what I like to refer to as the "Anglo-American Establishment." When typical conspiracy theorists rail against the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Trilateral Commission, the international bankers, and the Morgans, Rockefellers and Rothschilds and so forth, this is essentially whom they are referring to. But this is not the only power elite within the international community or even the United States itself.
|Quigley famously gave one of the first insider accounts of this network|
With that out of the way, let us now consider the official narrative of how Kubrick ended up directing Dr. Strangelove. Film historian Vincent Lobrutto noted:
"Since 1958 Kubrick had been intrigued by the subject of thermonuclear war, and lately he was becoming preoccupied with it. Kubrick had reached the obsessive state that slowly overtakes him and culminates in a film project. The idea of an impending nuclear holocaust often crept into his already dark and pessimistic vision of the world. Kubrick had read intensively on the subject. Having come of age in the post-World War II era and during the advent of the Cold War, Stanley Kubrick was constantly reminded of the nuclear threat. Living in New York City, he was perpetually in fear of being in the eye of a major nuclear target. When he lived on East Tenth Street, he told David Vaughan he was considering moving to Australia – a country well out of central nuclear bomb target range.
"While still in London, Kubrick asked Alastair Buchan, the head of the Institute for Strategic Studies, a nongovernment research group, to recommend a serious course of books for him to study about nuclear weapons. Buchan told Kubrick that a film about the global nuclear situation was 'unwise because he would not be able to describe precisely what precautions the United States or other nuclear powers take to guard against the danger of accident or false command.' Buchan was concerned that this would 'mislead anxious people.' In a list of books he thought Kubrick should read, Buchan recommended that novel Red Alert, by Peter George, who been a Royal Air Force navigator and a British intelligence agent."
(Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, Vincent Lobrutto, pgs. 227-228)
|the novel upon which Dr. Strangelove was based|
Possibly because of this the IISS has generally taken a more hawkish line than is common of the Anglo-American Establishment. IISS played a key role in selling the Second Iraq War to both the American and British public and has advocated the bombing of Iran as recently as 2007. Generally the Anglo-American Establishment was weary of the Iraq War and has been the driving force behind the normalization of relations with Iran (in opposition to the Zionist-centric neo-cons who have been obsessed with "regime change" there for years). While the IISS can hardly be accused of being as militant as a group like the American Security Council it nonetheless seems to serve as a kind of bridge between the Anglo-American Establishment (which generally prefers to work through the State Department) and the American military industrial complex.
Original IISS director Alastair Buchan was the son of John Buchan, an individual linked to the "Milner Group", an important early faction within the Round Table movement. The elder Buchan had a most suggestive life.
"During the war, Buchan was a correspondent for The Times, wrote Nelson's History of the Great War in twenty-four volumes (1915-1919), was the military intelligence in France (1916-1917), and finally was Director of Information for the War Office (1917-1918). During this period and later, he was a prolific writer of travel, historical, and adventure stories, becoming eventually, by such works as Greenmantle, The Three Hostages, and The Thirty-nine Steps, the most famous writer of adventure stories in Britain. His connection with South Africa gained him the post official historian of the South African forces in France. He was a close friend of Lord Haldane and Lord Rosebery, both of whom can be regarded as members of the Miller Group...Haldane, with Rosebery, Asquith, and Edward Grey, had formed the Liberal League to support liberal imperialism, with which Milner was closely associated."
(The Anglo-American Establishment, Carroll Quigley, pgs. 58)
Its interesting that Buchan seems to have been weary of Kubrick's film from the very beginning. Kubrick did not even attempt to seek the Pentagon's help for the film, realizing it would be denied in a heartbeat. But it would seem the Anglo-American Establishment, the primary force behind the policy of "detente", was very concerned that Kubrick's film would "mislead" the public as well. To some extent its rather remarkable that a film like Dr. Strangelove would have even been made during this era in the first place. I suspect that Kubrick only managed this feat because of support from the Kennedy White House. But more on that later.
That Red Alert author Peter George had been a British intelligence agent is most compelling as well. Red Alert was of course the book that Dr. Strangelove was based upon and was adapted for the screen by George, Kubrick and comedy writer Terry Southern. Unfortunately, I have not been able to turn up much on George's role in British intelligence. Its interesting to note, however, that George committed suicide a little over two years after Dr. Strangelove's release, reportedly over his fears of a pending nuclear holocaust.
"Returning to the countercultural films of the 1960s, the most critically acclaimed of the lot, and the one with the deepest roots in Laurel Canyon, was Easy Rider. Directed by Dennis Hopper, from the script co-written by he and Peter Fonda, the film starred Fonda and Hopper, along with Jack Nicholson. Hopper's walrus-mustachioed character in the film was based on David Crosby, who was regularly seen racing his motorcycle up and down the winding streets of Laurel Canyon. (That motorcycle, by the way, had been a gift from Crosby's good buddy, Peter Fonda.) Fonda's absurd 'Captain America' character was inspired either by John Phillips' riding partner, Gram Parsons, or by Crosby's former bandmate in the Byrds, Roger McGuinn (depending upon who is telling the story). That very same Roger McGuinn scored the original music for the film. His contributions were joined on the soundtrack by offering from fellow Canyonite musicians Steppenwolf, the Byrds, Fraternity of Man, and Jimi Hendrix. And the movie's hippie commune was reportedly created and filmed in the canyons, near Mulholland Drive."
(Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, David McGowan, pgs. 87-88)
Terry Southern was given a co-writing credit for Easy Rider's script along with Hopper and Fonda. Over the years there has been much dispute over how much input Southern had (this is also true of Dr. Strangelove, as Kubrick long downplayed Southern's input). Hopper and Fonda have long tried to minimize Southern's contributions, arguing that much of the film's dialogue was improvised by the actors themselves. Southern (and other crew members), however, has argued that he wrote the bulk of what ultimately appeared on screen. Few would dispute that Southern's early involvement with the film was instrumental in getting it off ground.
Thus, Southern was involved in some capacity with two of the most iconic films of the 1960s in Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider. What's more, both of these films were released near, and eerily echo, two of the most disturbing events of the 1960s: the Kennedy assassination and the Manson killings (which McGowan compelling argues were linked to the Laurel Canyon scene). This, combined with the circles Southern seems to have been traveling in, are most suggestive.
"... they received news that a U-2 plane had been shot down over Cuba. Other lower-level surveillance flights needed by the chiefs to prepare for airstrikes had also been shot at. According to the military rules of engagement, the air force had the right to retaliate against any attacks against their planes. Kennedy told them to hold off until they see what happens with the next exchange of letters and canceled the next round of surveillance flights.
"The EXCOMM Group then received news that a U-2 plane on a routine air-sampling mission to look for evidence that the Soviets were testing nuclear weapons accidentally flew in the Soviet airspace, causing the Russians to scramble jets to intercept it. Luckily, the plane got out of the area before they could reach it. Kennedy shook his head saying, 'There's always one son-of-a-bitch who doesn't get the message.'"
(The War State, Michael Swanson, pg. 344)Not mentioned by Swanson in the above quote is that American F-102 fighters with nuclear air-to-air missiles were also scrambled to the Bering Sea during this incident. Reportedly Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara proclaimed "this means war with the Soviet Union" upon hearing this. Fortunately the U-2 plane made it back before any shots were fired.
"Despite the risks to NATO, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to attack Cuba, with most of them seeing air strikes as a prelude to a full invasion of the island. By Thursday night, more of the EXCOMM members were now leaning towards implementing the blockade option. Some still wanted air strikes. McGeorge Bundy thought it might be best to do nothing. He argued that in the long run, the missiles wouldn't matter and that anything they might do would invite a Russian move on Berlin that would divide NATO.
"On Friday, October 19, 1962, President Kennedy had a tense morning meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who continued to push for military action. Maxwell Taylor opened the meeting by telling Kennedy that the chiefs understood the international political problems that a surprise attack could cause, but after they talked it over they 'were united' on destroying the missiles and the best way to do it was with the benefit of surprise...
"Kennedy thought that if he ordered them to attack Cuba, 'there's bound to be a reprisal from the Soviet Union, there always is – of their just going in and taking Berlin by force at some point. Which leads me only one alternative, which is to fire nuclear weapons – which is a hell of an alternative – and begin a nuclear exchange, with all this happening...'
"President Kennedy explained to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he didn't see how the Russians could accept an attack on Cuba 'any more than we can let these go on without doing something. They can't let us just take out, after all their statements, take out their missiles, kill a lot of Russians and not do anything. It's quite obvious that what they... I would think they would do, is try to get Berlin. But that may be a risk we have to take.'
"General LeMay continued to insist that he thought Khrushchev wouldn't do anything. Perhaps LeMay thought that if they suddenly wiped out Cuba, the Soviets simply wouldn't be able to respond out of fear of facing a devastating first strike from the United States. Or perhaps he simply had no fear himself of nuclear war against the Russians, thinking he could win one if things came to that. He could tell his arguments were not getting him what he wanted with Kennedy so he gave the president a subtle threat..."
(The War State, Michael Swanson, pgs. 324-328)
|General Curtis LeMay|