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 Posted Wednesday, June 16, 1999

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New York Post\

June 16, 1999




THE late Stanley Kubrick once remarked that "Hitler was right about almost everything," and insisted that any trace of Jewishness be expunged from the "Eyes Wide Shut" script that author Frederic Raphael was writing for him.

Kubrick also trashed "Schindler's List," dismissed "Gone With the Wind" as "a terrible movie," and disclosed a preoccupation with actor Kirk Douglas' potent sexual prowess.

These revelations are found in the pages of Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick, Raphael's account of his strained two-year working relationship with the reclusive, New York-born Jewish director, who lived in self-imposed exile in a high-security English countryside hermitage.

Kubrick died on March 7 this year at age 70. "Eyes Wide Shut" is set to open July 16. The book is to be published June 30 by Ballantine.

Raphael, a prolific novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter, paints a solemn and quizzical, if ultimately sympathetic, portrait of the legendary director of such films as "Dr. Strangelove," "A Clockwork Orange," and "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The Kubrick that emerges is the classic eccentric artist as tyrannical taskmaster, obsessing over minute details and seemingly indifferent to the needs and opinions of those who serve him.

Yet, as exasperating as working for Kubrick apparently was for him, Raphael ruefully admits that it was worth it just to have been creatively involved with the man many regarded as the world's greatest living director.

In the summer of 1994, Kubrick sent Raphael, then living in France, a novel to read and judge suitable for screen adaptation. It was "Traumnovelle," or "Dream Novella," a turn-of-the-century erotic fiction by Arthur Schnitzler.

But in a mark of Kubrick's weird and secretive nature, he refused to tell Raphael the identity of the work's author (Raphael guessed).

The novella by Schnitzler, who also wrote the play on which the Nicole Kidman stage vehicle "The Blue Room" was based, concerns the kinky, extramarital adventures of a Viennese Jew and his wife.

Kubrick wanted to shift the narrative to modern-day New York.

Raphael decided he was up to the task, and visited Kubrick at his English country estate. Upon returning to France, Raphael noted the director's "strangely passive curiosity," and told his wife that one visit with the inscrutable Kubrick could give a (male) screenwriter a good impression of what it was like to be a woman: "You don't know exactly what he wants, but you know he wants he doesn't know what and hopes you can supply it. He has virtually no ideas at all."

Kubrick's bizarre relationship to his own ethnicity deeply troubled Raphael, a fellow Jew. While demanding an almost slavish fidelity to the Schnitzler novella, described by Raphael as being "impregnated with Jewishness," Kubrick nevertheless instructed Raphael to expunge all Jewishness from his adaptation.

Raphael speculates that understanding Kubrick the Jew is fundamental to understanding the man. He speculates that Kubrick's penchant for secrecy and paranoia came from an outsider's fear of being found out and hounded by "those people," i.e., Gentiles. For Raphael, Kubrick is "the sedentary wandering Jew, rootlessly rooted within his own defenses."

Raphael puzzles over Kubrick's cryptic praise for Hitler, unable to decide if Kubrick was jesting.

"Jewishness is not something that will unite us," Raphael scribbles in his notebook. "On the contrary, it will license him to deal consciencelessly with me. Jews are often real Jews only with each other."

And Kubrick was downright acidic on the subject of "Schindler's List."

"That was about success, wasn't it?" he reportedly said. "The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. "Schindler's List' was about six hundred people who don't."


GOOD MORNING: Steven Spielberg is among those shocked by screenwriter Frederic Raphael's description of Stanley Kubrick in his upcoming book, "Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick."[link]
  Spielberg reminds that he knew Kubrick far longer and better than Raphael (who gets second position to Kubrick on the screenplay of "Eyes"). "Stanley Kubrick, Self-hating Jew," blared the N.Y. Post Wednesday on Rod Dreier's story of Raphael and his book. Spielberg, after reading the piece, said, "I didn't recognize the voice of Stanley in that article" which also said Kubrick trashed "Schindler's List."
  Spielberg had long (three-hour) telephone conversations regularly with Kubrick over the years and they confided in each other. And when Spielberg was in London he and Kubrick would always get together.

His death was a tremendous to blow to Spielberg who flew over to attend his funeral Further, the remarks of Raphael are in the hands of an attorney in London, and L.A. attorney Louis Blau, counselor and friend to Kubrick from 1958 until the day he died - he spoke to him that morning - says, "Raphael's remarks about (Kubrick's) anti-Semitism and the holocaust are beyond contempt. His relationship with his mother, father, sister and close friends belie that (anti-Semitic) remark. Kubrick believed the Holocaust was the greatest disaster in history."
  Blau further says, "Stanley's family, friends at WB [Warner Brothers] and elsewhere in England and the United States are incensed over Raphael's inaccurate, vicious and self-serving article in the June 14 New Yorker and subsequent remarks in the Post. One can only conclude Raphael's recent actions are the result of his realization that he lacked the vision to recognize the universality of Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut.' "
-- Army Archerd in Just for Variety, June 18, 1999

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