DVD Review: Stanley Kubrick’s Directing Debut FEAR AND DESIRE


It is always interesting to see the origins of a great artist, and now film fans can finally see where one of the great masters of 20th Century cinema began, by purchasing Fear And Desire. The 1953 film marks Stanley Kubrick’s feature-length directorial debut and while it may not be up there with his finest work, it is an impressive debut nonetheless.

Fears And Desire sets the scene for Kubrick’s career-long fascination with the unravelling of the human mind, as a group of soldiers (in an unknown time, in an unknown war) try to make their way to safety, after their plane crashes behind enemy lines. It’s a simple set-up and we’re thrown right into the midst of the action, but Kubrick still manages to dig deep into each man’s psychological core in the film’s brief 60 minute running time.

Shot independently and financed by Kubrick’s family and friends, Fear And Desire lacks polish. Urban myth has it that Kubrick tried to buy up all the existing prints to stop it being seen. The director shot the film without sound, preferring to overdub the dialogue later – it was a move which caused the director many problems in post production, but it also leads to one of the film’s most creative flourishes. It’s not without flaws though, as some of the dialogue (by Howard Sackler) is overwritten and the occasional piece of the editing is rather choppy. All in all though, the film is an impressive debut feature that shows a great talent in the making.

Special Features

A wonderful package for Kubrick completists. This disc from the Masters of Cinema series features a selection of Stanley Kubrick’s early short films and an interesting (if all too brief) talk from Kubrick scholar, James Naremore.