June 16, 1999
KUBRICK, SELF-HATING JEW
By ROD DREHER
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
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
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
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
But in a mark of Kubrick's weird and
secretive nature, he refused to tell
Raphael the identity of the work's author
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
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
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."