Review: Stanley Kubrick at the Design Museum

The Design Museum in Kensington has just opened Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, to honour the 20th anniversary of the film director’s death. It’s on all summer until 15 September, so we sent our writer Helen Salter along to check it out. 

Director, screenwriter and producer Stanley Kubrick is hailed as one of the most influential names in modern cinema. Born in New York, Kubrick spent much of his working life in the UK: he often filmed on the streets of London and even used UK landscapes for Full Metal Jacket’s battlefields. 
The exhibition opens with an overwhelming display of Kubrick’s creative process, including poster designs, filming schedules and annotated screenplays. After this grand introduction, a section is dedicated to each of his films, from box office hits to his lesser-known works and his very last: the psychological erotica Eyes Wide Shut was completed during the same year as his death, aged 70. Inside each segment you can watch a compilation of the movie in question – one powerful cinematic moment after another. 

His relentless eye for design details is clear from the obsessive plans that you can read, as well as in the sinuous sculptures and brutalist architecture displayed in the Clockwork Orange section – design had a clear role in shaping this film’s disturbing magnetism.grady-sisters-and-danny-costumes-shining-Stanley-Kubrick-Design-Museum.jpg
The Shining is given star billing; you can see Jack’s typewriter, the murdered twins’ dresses and the infamous ‘Here’s Jonny!’ axe, wedged into a wall. The exhibition culminates in the genre-defining 2001: Space Odyssey, where you can take in the stellar costumes, artwork and model spaceships that propelled this film to sci-fi greatness.

Steven Spielberg recently said ‘I defy anyone who just happens to find a Kubrick film while TV channel-hopping to change the station – I have found this impossible.’ It’s with this sense of enrapture that the Design Museum has built this show, which makes it almost as hard to tear your eyes from. 

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition to 15 September
The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, W8 6AG
020 3862 5900 |

Throughout April and May 2019, the British Film Institute (BFI) on the South Bank is running Kubrick: A Definitive Film Season.

Love movies? Read about horror films shot in London here.

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