Hollywood could churn out a brand new Stanley Kubrick film, despite the professional “mind-fucker's” death nearly two decades ago, thanks to a newly unearthed script he is said to have written in 1956.
Bangor University professor and Kubrick expert Nathan Abrams told the Guardian he found the script while conducting research for his upcoming book, Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of His Final Film. The "lost" screenplay is owned by the son of a former Kubrick collaborator and is more than 100 pages long. It's based on Jewish Austrian author Stefan Zweig’s 1913 novel, Burning Secret. The book follows a man as he woos a woman at a health spa by befriending her 12-year-old son.
Abrams described it as “the inverse” of Vladimir Nobakov’s Lolita, which Kubrick adapted in 1962. That story of a man marrying a woman to seduce her daughter was notoriously difficult to get past mid-century Hollywood censors. Abrams told the Guardian that he believes the script was written six years before Lolita’s debut and might have been “too risqué” for the industry at the time.
According to Abrams, the screenplay had long been rumored. “Kubrick aficionados know he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed,” he said to the Guardian. “We now have a copy and this proves that he had done a full screenplay.” Kubrick updates the novel with American names and a contemporary setting.
In Abrams’s opinion, the script is fit to be produced by modern filmmakers. And there is a precedent: Steven Spielberg famously adapted Kubrick’s final script, resulting in 2001's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
Whether or not Hollywood will take advantage of the opportunity is another question. Kubrick’s former assistant director Andrew Birkin directed a widely panned adaptation of Burning Secret in 1988. As #MeToo continues to shed light on the industry’s dark, masculine underbelly, it’s questionable whether it’s the right moment for a sultry story about a predatory man. Considering Kubrick's arguably abusive relationships with his cast and crew, perhaps it's best this one stays in the past.
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