The Kubrick Stare

So I tried to do research on the Kubrick Stare. I somehow knew it to be a thing from I can’t remember when. We talked about it at parties with movie buff friends and I remember reading somewhere about it, something, I dunno … Cuz’, sure thing, I can’t find it now, fuck the nasty google goblin. Was it there at all, ever? I dunno. I guess if you want a good read about something a bit exotic, you gotta write it yourself. So ok, let’s.

What is it?

This is it:

the-kubrick-stare-gomer.jpg (1987, Full Metal Jacket, Vincent D’Onofrio as Pvt. Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence.)

It’s the single best way to shoot an actor in a guy-goes-batshit-in-a-movie type of situation. You set up a camera way high above eye level, ask the guy to move his talentless ass close to the lens and look into it under the eyebrows. Open the mouth a bit, pop the jaw out for some dental work display and voilá, you got yourself a menacing maniac or a village idiot staring you down the lens, depending on your casting abilities. (Note that some actors/tresses simply do not look menacing whichever way you turn, move, light or shoot them. As a director you’re fucked, you should’ve considered this before you drilled and hired the goddamn blonde.) The term “Kubrick Crazy Stare” was reportedly coined by Kubrick’s DP Doug Milsome, if the Kubrick FAQ is to be trusted.

The shot above is from Stanley Kubrick’s penultimate movie Full Metal Jacket where D’Onofrio plays Gomer Pyle, a timid overweight young soldier pushed beyond his limits by his drill sergeant. Instead of going on the all-American shootout rampage, Gomer goes eerily silent for a while, acknowledges the apparent collapse od humanity, withdraws at night to a spotless army toilet and blows his brains out with a named rifle after mowing down the commanding officer. Fuck you! Once you get beaten by your closest pals, you surely gotta know you’re at the end of the line.

In not so many words, it’s an emotional moment. A creepy, scary moment. A mad moment. That’s what the Kubrick Stare is all about. Now let’s take a look at how coolcat Jack does it in The Shining:


the-kubrick-stare-shining-4.jpg (1980, The Shining, Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance.)

Jack plays a writer gone berserk from all the supernatural sauces flowing in a haunted house. (How’s this for a movie summary? Way under 140 chars, am I good or WHAT?) Proves my point (later on) that The Stare, if done right, implies some creepiness. Like with A Clockwork Orange’s tormented hero Alex, played by Malcolm McDowell:

the-kubrick-stare-orange.jpg (1971, A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell as Alex.)

Now that is creepy! Sure, I hear you, it’s all about casting, you say. Point taken, I wouldn’t trust McDowell with my kid either, he’s just that kind of a guy. But you do get my drift, don’t ya? This is a great, probably best way to shoot a psychopath in a movie. It gives the picture that, … well, … je-ne-sais-quoi psychopathish look & feel.

What about 2001?, I hear you protest, trying to fuck up my train of thought. The psychopath here is the computer, so how do you shoot The Stare with no eyebrows? Here’s how:

hal9000.jpeg (1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL 9000 computer.)

You do it with movie magic. Don’t ask me how, cuz’ I have no fucking idea how. What I do know is that by the time HAL goes bonkers I’m already scared shitless. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the implied void behind that red eye, I can’t tell. Kubrick is jerking me around per his will like a cow on a ring through it’s nose.

Then there’s this shot:

the-kubrick-stare-2001.jpg (1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Keir Dullea as Dr. Dave Bowman.)

No madness here. Just a guy climbing a ladder in space going into a fistfight. Still, it’s 99.99 on the awesome meter. Maybe the suit does it.

What it is not!

Some folks would have you believe this is a Kubrick Stare:

the-kubrick-stare-lyndon.jpg (1975, Barry Lyndon, Ryan O’Neil as Barry Lyndon.)

Fuck no! Yes, it’s a Kubrick movie, but no, this is no stare! It’s just Ryan O’Neal sitting with a stick up his ass pondering where did the make-up lady stash his Jack Daniels and when did she snatch it up. There’s little emotion, no eyebrows and no maniacal rage. I have no idea why this is being passed as The Stare. Same here:

the-kubrick-stare-eyes.jpg (1999, Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise as Dr. William Harford.)

Come on, really!

In closing, here’s a quote from Roger Ebert reviewing Full Metal Jacket:

In that showdown, and at several other times in the film, Kubrick indulges his favorite closeup, a shot of a man glowering up at the camera from beneath lowered brows. This was the trademark visual in “A Clockwork Orange,” and Jack Nicholson practiced it in “The Shining.” What does it mean? That Kubrick thinks it’s an interesting angle from which to shoot the face, I think.

playboy.jpeg (Stanley Kubrick. The man.)

Damn right.

-Izmet Fekali

  • Share/Bookmark


  1. IZTOK GARTNER, - 5.3.10 | 04:04

    Kapo dol za enega izmed najbolj zanimivih filmskih zapisov zadnjega časa.

  2. filmoljub, - 5.3.10 | 10:46

    Bah. Pritlikavi scientolog Tomči Kurči nima za vegi-burek proti Možu-z-luknjo-v-bradi.

  3. Bo, - 5.3.10 | 11:38

    Adding a note, Strange Days, Kathryn Bigelow’s futuristic thriller about a cop turned smuggler with memories also features Vincent D’Onofrio and duplicates his Full Metal Jacket Stare in the end where his villainous character is unveiled to everybody and he goes apeshit, but this time doesn’t take anybody with him since I guess he wasn’t the victim here.

  4. Matjazz, - 5.3.10 | 11:50

    I could not agree more with Iztok. Short, informative, funny, educational amazing piece of writing. U didn’t find The stare in Dr. Strangelove?

    P.s. Yes it is also the psychotic music that scares the shit out of you in all his movies.

  5. dr. Onyx, - 5.3.10 | 11:53

    Est-ce là d’obtenir la version slovène de cet enregistrement?

  6. K&K, - 5.3.10 | 13:29

    Govori srbski, piši kirilica, pa te shvati cijeli svet ;)


  7. opazovalec, - 5.3.10 | 14:21

    ¡De puta madre!

  8. Dicky Hardy, - 5.3.10 | 14:28

    Jack rules!

  9. CerpinTaxt, - 5.3.10 | 14:43

    A bomo poskusil zdiggat tole?

    Dajmo dajmo!

  10. CerpinTaxt, - 5.3.10 | 14:44

    Nevem zakaj je pokvarilo zgornji link..

  11. CerpinTaxt, - 5.3.10 | 15:01

    Nevem kaj jebe. Evo skrajšan link:

  12. Tomac, - 5.3.10 | 15:42

    A tole s’pa kr inglešk napisou?!…nemščina ti ni dost dobra?!! Ta čivša Izmeti!

  13. Tibor Jablonsky, - 5.3.10 | 16:34

    Vincent D’Onofrio, genialec, ki ostaja praktično neopažen. Uživam v tvojem študioznem pristopu in vzhičeno čakam na prepisane.

  14. sosed od soseda sosed, - 5.3.10 | 17:25

    Jonas je postal Mojca Mavec – prepisovalec

  15. Shkarpyan, - 5.3.10 | 19:23

    Death stare: :)

  16. E, - 7.3.10 | 00:13

    Good stuff. Kudos to you, Sir!

  17. nevenka, - 7.3.10 | 05:55

    Nicholsonova varianta mi je od nekdaj najbolj všeč. In ker pogled pove več kot tisoč besed, bom tole zadevo slej ko prej natrenirala:-) Dopovedovanje se da zelo skrajšati. Življenje je lepo.

  18. hudirudi, - 7.3.10 | 10:50

    hja, Kubrick je pac res eden izmed vecjih carjev, in meni je zelo skoda, da ko sem ga ravno odkril, je pa ze “nehal” snemati. se pa spomnim, da sem Eyes wide shut narocil iz Amerike na DVDju, ker v Slovenijo film itak ni bil misljen. Baje da se iz casov, ko ga je stara Yuga malo nahecala glede denarja za predvajanje Odiseje. No, in sem potem si rekel, ura je bila ene 01.00, da bom samo malo pogledal, za kaj se sploh gre s tem Krzisnikovim Tomazem, pa sem potem cel film pogledal do konca, in bil res v enem takem soku, halo, a je to sploh mozno, kako se je sama zgodba razvila… skratka, a must see film. Kubrick je zame mojster barve, kotov snemanja in atmosfere. Korak naprej gre Lynch, ki vcasih ze kar malo zatezi s pretiravanjem, ampak recimo Mullholand drive gre zame v en podoben nivo kot Eyes wide shut… lp

  19. Žiga, - 7.3.10 | 11:16

    Bi blo pa faj tvojega videt, Jonas!? (Kubrick stare namreč, da ne bo pomote! ;))

  20. opica, - 9.3.10 | 10:57

    Opazila sem te poglede, nisem pa pomislila na vzorec. Pred dnevi sem zvedela še za Wilhelmov krik.

    Wiki – Wilhelm scream in še prispevek na poddaji Film Riot.

  21. katja, - 9.3.10 | 21:03


  22. mitja, - 9.3.10 | 21:07


  23. Filip Gajšek, - 10.3.10 | 08:28

    The only good stare is Andrej Stare :)

  24. nevenka, - 10.3.10 | 08:38


  25. B5, - 11.3.10 | 12:01
  26. modelchina, - 15.3.10 | 21:25 Google doe not find the good stuff. You have to google for a while and then it comes out! Google waits until he things that you deserve it.

  27. jonas, - 15.3.10 | 21:31

    Google doe not find the good stuff. You have to google for a while and then it comes out! Google waits until he things that you deserve it.


    I have no fucking idea how Google search works.

  28. jonas, - 15.3.10 | 21:33


    In seveda, hvala za link. ;)

  29. Čakajoč Godoja, - 18.3.10 | 10:05

    Google Translate FTW! ;) Lepo, da bi rad širil obzorja, ampak si v slovenščini bolj zanimiv. Pusti angleščino, ne gre ti najboljše (sklepam na podlagi tega zapisa). Če ti kdo reče drugače, že ma svoje razloge. Poznaš tisti občutek, ko nekaj gledaš/poslušaš/bereš, pa te je kar malo sram v imenu avtorja? No, to je to. Pa brez zamere. Mišljeno je dobronamerno. Drugače pa zanimiv post! :)

  30. jonas, - 20.3.10 | 00:15

    Butast je, kdor se boji spregovoriti iz strahu pred napako. Mene ni sram slovenskega naglasa. Ti pa kar zardevaj, če češ.

    Saj te poznam, ti si tisti, ki bi v puščavi raje od žeje crknil, kot pa prašal za vodo v polomljeni zamorščini.

  31. Čakajoč Godoja, - 22.3.10 | 09:17

    Se strinjam, ne smeš se bat napake. Ne smeš pa tudi zamerit, če te kdo opozori na njo. Ti pa moraš priznat, da nismo v puščavi in da v tej situaciji ne gre za življenje in smrt. :)

    Če je tvoj cilj angleščina, iz katere je takoj razvidno, da jo je pisal nekdo, ki ni native speaker, si ga dosegel. Če pa bi rad, da besedilo teče, kot da je dialog iz Tarantinovega filma, pa ga daj lektorirat enemu angleško govorečemu prijatelju.

    Razlika je v tem, da v prvem primeru pokažeš svoje neznanje, v drugem primeru pa željo po izdelavi bolj smiselnega in posledično tudi boljšega besedila. Moje mnenje, ni se treba strinjat.

    Sicer pa je tvoj blog, knock yourself away. ;)

  32. jonas, - 22.3.10 | 09:24

    pisal nekdo, ki ni native speaker

    Lej, besedilo je podpisano z aliasom “Izmet Fekali,” če ti to kaj pove.

  33. Čakajoč Godoja, - 22.3.10 | 10:00

    Se pravi, da te ni sram slovenskega naglasa, ki si ga namerno vključil? Ja, seveda, to je jasno.

    Glej, če je bila stvar namerna, potem se lahko samo opravičim, ker sem narobe razumel. Moje pametovanje je na mestu samo, če bi bilo besedilo napisano v prepričanju, da je angleščina dobra.

  34. jonas, - 22.3.10 | 10:05

    Ko sem začel pisati v angleščini (o kartah), sem se znašel pred dilemo, kako hendlati pomanjkljivo znanje. Zato sem si izmislil lik Izmeta Fekalija (po očetu Albanca, po materi Slovenca), ki pač po svoje lomi angleščino.

  35. Čakajoč Godoja, - 22.3.10 | 11:00

    Hehe, varka kapitana marka. I like it! :D

  36. Metka, - 28.6.18 | 10:22

    Najbolj zanimivih filmskih zapisov zadnjega časa.

Na voljo je Markdown za oblikovanje besedila.

Komentiranje iz tujine je omogočeno zgolj prijavljenim uporabnikom !