Fear and Desire (1953)

Fear and Desire (1953)

Fear and Desire 1953Starring: Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Paul Mazursky

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Written By: Howard Sackler

Rating: NR (US) Running Time: 1 hr 2 min

Two Pence:

Stanley Kubricks’ first film, if you don’t count the few documentaries he had done, is mostly interesting because of this fact. Like any young film makers first feature, it has high aspirations, low-budget, is portentous and badly acted. Still, the story is interesting and the cinematography is crisp with good clear compositions.

At only an hour-long I think any Kubrick fan should find it worth their time to check it out as he only made 13 films after all. Alas, they can’t all be classics. Still, what we have here is an anti-war film about four Americans roaming a forest on an unnamed island having survived a crash. We have to suppose it’s set during World War II, but there is no indication of place or time. These men discover that they are in enemy territory as they find an airfield with an enemy General nearby. Should they get on a raft and sail towards safety or try for some heroic glory first? The proceedings are made more troubling by a local woman being taken hostage and the men wrestling with their purpose, their desires and their mental health.

With the internal dialogue and the point of view shots and occasional eruption of violence, it’s always interesting, the scene where one of the men cracks up is quite disturbing and well staged. Kubrick said later this was his least favourite film and reportedly tried to buy up all the copies of the film so no one else could see it! It’s not that bad – maybe see what you think.

Movie Prep:

It plays out like a short, black and white “Apocalypse Now” in a way, especially with men talking profoundly and with grave gravitas.

Best Format:

Any which way to be honest, it’s not in widescreen and is mono, black and white and sparse in its composition.

Best element for me:

The “I think we’ve all traveled too far from our own personal boundaries” speech at the conclusion is best for summing up the piece, “Somehow I don’t want what I wanted before”. It’s nicely book ended with a panning shot of a beautiful but some how bleak panorama of a lovely forest with majestic hills, reminding us we seem small and a bit ridiculous running about amongst it all with our mixed desires and fears.

References: IMDBRotten Tomatoes


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