Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was responsible for three shorts and thirteen features throughout his lifetime.
Of those thirteen features, five have emerged as true cornerstones of cinema – “2001,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Shining”. Another five aren’t as unanimously praised but are generally considered classics in their own right – “Barry Lyndon,” “Paths of Glory,” “Spartacus,” “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Lolita”.
The remaining three however, his low-budget first three films which were released in the mid-50’s, are generally not widely known outside of Kubrick fans and cinemaphile circles. While “The Killing” and “Killer’s Kiss” are easy to obtain on Amazon and the like, his first feature-length effort “Fear and Desire” has proven a collector’s item which most have only been able to see through dodgy online copies or very low quality VHS copies of copies. Until now that is.
George Eastman House ran a special screening of the film in Los Angeles recently from an original “not necessarily complete” negative. The company inherited a collapsing distributor’s film library recently, including that partial negative which came from a Puerto Rican film lab’s storage vault which had been shut down years ago.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is now talking about a “major restoration effort” on the film which would see a high-quality DVD release of the title sometime down the road.
It’s generally thought that negative is the only official copy in existence. The film itself earned a reputation as being a work Kubrick himself was not a fan of at all, and purportedly tried to remove the film from circulation however he could.