The five-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner worked on more than 70 films. He created iconic set designs for the 007 franchise – including Dr. No’s secret island complex, Fort Knox in Goldfinger(1964) and a giant rocket base inside a volcano featured in You Only Live Twice (1967), for which Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay.
In the late 1970s, he also conceived the supertanker set for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – for which he received an Oscar nomination – and a futuristic space station for Moonraker(1979), his last Bond film. The lighting for the super tanker set was supervised in secret by Stanley Kubrick (videoclip).
Ken Adam designed the famous War Room for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) and collaborated with him again on Barry Lyndon (1975), for which he earned his first Oscar. He received his second Academy Award for The Madness of King George (1994).
Although Ken Adam never worked for Steven Spielberg(a big fan of the 007 series and Kubrick’s films), Adam had fond memories of the biggest compliment he ever received:
Klaus Hugo Adam was born in Berlin. When the National Socialist party came to power in Germany, Adam had to emigrate with his Jewish family
to England in 1934. He attended University College London and Bartlett
School of Architecture.
In 2012, Ken Adam gave the entirety of his artistic life’s work to the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin.
2013 Steven Spielberg announces Napoleon to be made for TV, based on Stanley Kubrick’s original screenplay from 1961, and in conjunction with Kubrick’s family.
Spielberg – an admirer of the late director – is in early talks with HBO to acquire the Spielberg-produced miniseries centering on the infamous French leader, with Baz Luhrman attached as a potential director.
Since the announcement, no deal has been made and the project seems to be on hold.
Update: In 2016, Cary Fukunaga is announced as a potential director.
Incidentally, Spielberg’s The Terminal (2004) contains a scene in which Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) buys the book “Napoléon Bonaparte” by Alan Schom and passionately discusses Napoléon’s fate with Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks).
2011 Steven Spielberg’s touching World War I drama War Horse is based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel of the same name. The film is produced by Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with executive producers Frank Marshall and Revel Guest.
Michael Morpurgo tries to adapt his book into a film screenplay, working for over five years, but nothing comes out of it. However, the novel is successfully adapted for a stage play by Nick Stafford in 2007. The film cannot be told solely through the horse’s viewpoint (as in the book), so most of the film is based on the narrative approach of the stage play. Unlike the play, which features puppet horses, the film uses real horses as well as practical effects (and extremely limited computer-generated imagery).
In 2009, film producer Kathleen Kennedy attends the stage play in London’s West End and tells Spielberg about it. Eventually DreamWorks acquires the film rights to the book. Spielberg goes to see the stage play in early 2010 and meets some of the London cast, admitting to being moved to tears by their performance.
DreamWorks executive Stacey Snider suggests Richard Curtis to work on rewrites for the drafts that Michael Morpurgo and Lee Hall have turned in. Curtis produces more than a dozen drafts in three months, working closely with Spielberg who is set to produce the film. Excited by the results, Spielberg finally decides to also direct – while he is waiting for the animations of his other 2011-release film, The Adventures of Tintin, to be completed.
After having hundreds of young boys read for the lead role, resulting in some speculation, that Eddie Redmayne might have been cast for it, Spielberg chooses relatively unknown stage actor Jeremy Irvine instead, describing his performance as “very natural, very authentic.” It is his first film role, and he has never ridden a horse prior to War Horse.
The film’s brilliant cast includes British, French and German actors (playing characters of their respective nationalities), among them Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan, Toby Kebbell, David Kross, and Peter Mullan. Robert Emms, lead actor in the London stage play, is cast as David Lyons. In addition to the main cast, some 5,800 extras are used in the film. Michael Morpurgo can be seen in a cameo role at the auction – as he is visiting the set several times.
Principal photography lasts for about 64 days, beginning with the cavalry charge, where the British cavalry, 130 horses in total and many hundreds of extras, charge the German machine gun lines. It is is filmed at Stratfield Saye House in north Hampshire, and results in one of the most devastating war sequences directed by Spielberg.
After working on James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), production designer Rick Carter, Spielberg’s long-term collaborator, joins the War Horse crew. This time, he does not have to create a new reality, but rather to take a living landscape and make it as much a character in the film as any human being – or horse.
The famous horse’s image from the final scene, shot against the saturated red sky, looks like a nod to epics like Gone With the Wind (1939), but according to cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, the resemblance is unconscious: "I didn’t even know there was an image similar to that!” Kamiński acknowledges that he used John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) as a template for his exterior filming, paying particular attention to Ford’s panoramic sky, landscape and terrain.
After having directed six films with World War II themes, Spielberg tackles his first film dealing with World War I. Sequences in the barbed wire trenches recall World War I classics such as Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957).
During filming, fourteen different horses are used as the main
horse character Joey, eight of them portraying him as an adult animal,
four as a colt and two as foals. Up to 280 horses are used in a
single scene. An animatronic horse is used for some parts of the scenes where Joey is trapped in barbed wire (the wire is rubber prop wire). Working with horses – on this scale – is new to Spielberg:
2010 Inception, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan, follows Cobb, a professional thief played Leonardo DiCaprio who commits corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets. According to Nolan, the film “deals with levels of reality, and perceptions of reality which is something I’m very interested in. It’s an action film set in a contemporary world, but with a slight science-fiction bent to it (and) structured somewhat as a heist movie. It’s an action adventure that spans the globe”. In short, he creates his own new genre, the multilevel dream film.
The film’s outstanding ensemble cast includes Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas, and Michael Caine.
Nolan works on the script for about ten years. When he first starts thinking about the film, he is influenced by “that era of movies where you had The Matrix (1999), you had Dark City (1998), you had The Thirteenth Floor (1999) and, to a certain extent, you had Memento (2000), too. They were based in the principles that the world around you might not be real."
Nolan feels that he needs more directing experience on large-scale films, and decides to helm Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), and The Dark Knight (2008), before he continues to work on the script for Inception. After the huge success of Nolan’s Batman films, Warner Bros. purchases his script and greenlights the project.
Inception is filmed in six countries and four continents, beginning in Tokyo on June 19, 2009, and finishing in Canada on November 22, 2009. Interiors are shot in a converted airship hangar in Cardington, Bedfordshire, north of London. Sets include the famous hotel corridor. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, and Director of Photography Wally Pfister are involved in the creation of the sequence in which the corridor set is rotated a full 360 degrees to create the illusion of second-level dreaming – inspired by a technique used in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Nolan uses little CGI effects, preferring practical effects whenever possible. "It’s always very important to me to do as much as possible in-camera, and then, if necessary, computer graphics are very useful to build on or enhance what you have achieved physically.“
The film is shot primarily in the anamorphic format on 35 mm film, with key sequences filmed on 65 mm, and aerial sequences in VistaVision. Nolan chooses not to shoot any of the film in 3D (though Warner executives would have liked him to do so) as he prefers shooting on film using prime lenses, which is not possible with 3D cameras.
Wally Pfister gives each location and dream level a distinctive look to aid the audience’s recognition of the narrative’s location during the heavily crosscut portion of the film. The snow-based third-level dream is inspired by Nolan’s favourite James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).
The score for Inception is composed by Hans Zimmer who describes his work as "a very electronic, dense score”, filled with “nostalgia and sadness” to match Cobb’s feelings throughout the film. The music is written simultaneously to filming, and features a guitar sound reminiscent of Ennio Morricone, played by Johnny Marr, former guitarist of The Smiths.
Édith Piaf’s song “Non, je ne regrette rien” pointedly appears throughout the film (and after the end titles) to denote the dreams. Incidentally, Marion Cotillard won the Academy Award for Best Actress portraying Piaf in La Vie en Rose (2007).
The film grosses over $825 million worldwide (against a budget of $160 million). It wins four Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects, and is nominated for four more: Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Screenplay. As of 2015, this is the last movie shot on film (not digitally) to win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
2001 Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence is based on the
1969 short story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss. The
visionary film tells the story of David, a childlike android programmed
with the ability to love who wants to be a “real boy”. With Stanley
Kubrick’s long lasting development of the film and Spielberg’s
direction, this “future fairy tale” fuses the styles and themes of two – quite different – titans of cinema.
Haley Joel Osment is Spielberg’s first and
only choice for David’s part and delivers an amazing performance: To
perfectly portray the “Mecha” boy, he trains himself to e.g. avoid
blinking his eyes in all his scenes except the film’s end. Jude
Law plays Gigolo Joe, a male prostitute Mecha programmed with the
ability to mimic love, like David, but in a different sense. To prepare
for the role, Law studies the acting of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. A.I.’s
cast also includes Frances O’Connor, Brendan
Gleeson, and William Hurt.
characters are voiced by Jack Angel, Ben Kingley, Robin Williams, Meryl
Streep, and Chris Rock. Incidentally, Robin Williams also played an
android who wants to become human in Bicentennial Man (1999). In A.I.,
Williams lends his voice to a hologram by the name of Dr. Know
(Spielberg’s nod to the James Bond franchise), an information system
that provides a natural language user interface to answer questions –
conceived by the filmmakers long before Apple’s Siri is introduced.
origins of A.I. go back to the early 1970s. Stanley Kubrick hires a
series of writers including Brian Aldiss, Bob Shaw, Ian Watson, Arthur
C. Clarke, and Sara Maitland. Kubrick hands Ian Watson the 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi for inspiration, calling
A.I. “a picaresque robot version of Pinocchio”. William Butler Yeats’
famous poem The Stolen Child has also a strong influence on the story
and is cited in crucial scenes.
When Kubrick watches E.T. – The Extra
Terrestrialin 1982, he is deeply impressed by the way Spielberg manages
to win the hearts of people from all over the world by telling a story
about a completely artificial character. Kubrick is aware that David has to gain their sympathies, too, or the central
question of A.I. will fail to touch anyone: If robots can feel, what
makes them different from humans?
Kubrick is obsessed by the idea
of directing an artificially created David using robotics technology
and visual effects because he wants to avoid the situation of a child
actor growing up during Kubrick’s typically long production schedules. After ten years of fruitless experiments the film labors in development hell.
Kubrick realizes that, in his lifetime, he will not be able to create a
convincing robot-performer. In addition, Kubrick has the nagging
suspicion Spielberg might be the better director for one of A.I.’s central
themes: a child in a dysfunctional family. Spielberg has (repeatedly)
demonstrated his ability to make his child actors carry the entire film.
Plus, he has succeeded in completing technically complex films in a
very short time (in fact, Spielberg finishes A.I.’s principal
photography in just 67 days).
In the meantime, Spielberg and
Kubrick (who moved to England in the early 1960s) become “long-distance”
friends, having frequent calls that go for hours. On Kubrick’s request,
Spielberg even has a secure fax line in his closet at home, so they can
exchange ideas even at night – which is eventually vetoed by Mrs.
After watching Jurassic Park (1993), Kubrick feels
that the time has come to tackle the visual effects and signs ILM’s Dennis Muren to do some previsualisations. Then, Kubrick invites
Spielberg to his estate, Childwickbury Manor, in Hertfordshire. Under
the threat of being “excluded from his life” (should he betray his
trust) Kubrick shows Spielberg all the drawings and script drafts that
have been evolviert so far, saying “Look, why don’t you direct it and
I’ll produce it.”
It flatters Spielberg that Kubrick is willing
to give a project so close to his heart to him. However, he feels uneasy
envisioning an ambitious artist of Kubrick’s caliber in his back during A.I.’s production. Spielberg politely declines, and the two go on to
direct other projects. A.I. remains on hiatus until Kubrick’s death in
1999, when Spielberg is approached by Kubrick’s widow Christiane and
Kubrick’s co-producer Jan Harlan to take over as director. When
Spielberg agrees, one of the first things he does is hiring illustrator Chris Baker who previously worked for Kubrick transferring his visions of A.I. into
dazzling concept artwork. Baker acts as some kind of artistic
„intermediary“ between the late Kubrick and Spielberg.
the first time since Poltergeist (1982), Spielberg writes the
screenplay, remaining close to Kubrick’s film treatment and vision. In
a typical Kubrick manner, Spielberg divides A.I.’s story into three
acts: Arrival, Journey, and Discovery. The film’s introduction (Sea
waves, Cybertronics building, Cryogenics Hospital, Prof Hobby’s office)
is added by Spielberg, while he works out in detail other sequences such
as the junk yard for robots and the Flesh Fair based on Ian Watson’s
To underline overarching themes and
dramatic developments, Spielberg applies Kubrick’s “mode jerks” (e.g.
violent jumps of time and space, contrasting color schemes, and abrupt
changes of emotions). During production, Spielberg includes other
typical Kubrick elements, among them: shots down the length of tall,
parallel walls, one-point perspective, circular forms representing
obsessive engagement in (David’s) futile acts, and – most prominently –
the “Kubrick Stare” (David’s head tilted and eyes looking upwards).
Winston creates dozens of profoundly unique “Mecha” characters – including “Teddy” (videoclip) and later calls
A.I. the most ambitious film he worked on in his lifetime.
a particularly touching scene, Monica Swinton “imprints” David, thereby
enabling him to love her like a real mother. The list of words she
reads to him is the original list that was written by Stanley Kubrick.
Director of Photography Janusz Kamiński, who masters the daunting task
of merging the visual styles of Spielberg and Kubrick, has a special
affinity for this shot. It is created in a room suffused with tremendous backlighting, one of Spielberg’s visual trademarks. “I love backlight
not just for the sake of glamorizing [the subject], but because the
direction of the light can represent storytelling,” says Kaminski. “I
don’t do backlights and then also add key lights and all these things —
if I do backlight, I want to see that backlight. That’s my style…”
is shot entirely using sound stages at Warner Brothers Studios and the
Spruce Goose Dome in Long Beach, south LA. The film pioneers the
virtual studio, a technique which allows Spielberg to walk through a
virtual version of Rouge City with his camera and select shots. This
technique is later used on Peter Jacksons’s The Lord of the Rings
(2001). A building resembling a penis is digitally removed from the
“Rouge City” set in order to secure the film’s PG-13 rating.
third act, when 2000 years have passed and mankind has perished, starts
with one of the film’s visual highlights, created by ILM (with Dennis
Muren serving as Visual Effects Supervisor): Manhattan is buried under
several hundred feet of glacial ice, where SuperMechas, David’s
descendants, are digging giant trenches searching for him – quite
similar to the (human) astronauts excavating the monolith in Kubrick’s
2001 (1968). In a sweeping tracking shot, reminiscent
of the Death Star’s trench from the battle scenes in Star Wars – A New
Hope (1977), we follow the SuperMechas’ hovering vehicle to the
excavation site and witness David’s resurrection. The shape of the
CGI-generated SuperMechas resembles the aliens from Close Encounters of
the Third Kind(1977), so some critics and parts of the audience are
“lost”. They confuse the SuperMechas with extraterrestrials.
composes a magnificent score which incorporates elements that are
typical for Kubrick films, e.g. atonal and classical music. Richard Strauss’ Der
Rosenkavalier was used on request by Kubrick. For
the film’s final sequence, Williams writes a piano concerto which that
goes over the length of the sequence. Spielberg likes the music so much
that he asks editor Michael Kahn to re-edit the final seven minutes so
they fit the music, rather than (as is usual) the other way around – a
technique Spielberg already used in E.T.’s last 15 minutes.
promote the film, an alternate reality game is created: The Beast, an
elaborate concept of discovery and problem solving, through hidden
messages and puzzles in internet sites, telephone answering messages,
e-mail accounts and clues in the film’s trailers. The game includes
forty websites, including the website for Cybertronics Corp. Similar
viral marketing strategies are used for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus
The intriguing trailer and the minimalistic film poster (featuring a
little boy stepping from a metal cast A forming the I) raise some expectations
that this might be another E.T., an essentially entertaining, uplifting
family film. On the contrary, A.I. depicts mankind as cold and
heartless, betraying their artificial creations and eventually being
survived by them. To many viewers and critics, this depressing message
of a 146 min film is quite difficult to digest and – to some – a radical
departure from what they associate with Spielberg. At the same time, Spielberg
is accused of having “sweetened” Kubrick’s original concept – by having
(allegedly) added a “happy” ending, which in truth is a very sad
ending. At the Academy Awards, A.I. is largely ignored, earning two Oscar nominations for Best Music and Best Visual Effects, winning none.
Spielberg on the ambivalent reception of his
1999 Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut, is an erotic thriller loosely based upon Arthur Schnitzler’s 1925 novella Traumnovelle.
The brilliant character study is directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick who dies six days after showing his final cut to Warner Bros. executives.
The story is set in New York City and follows the sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise), who is shocked when his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), reveals that she had once contemplated an affair.
The film holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous film shoot period (400 days). The making of the film puts an enormous strain on Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and marks the beginning of the end of their real-life marriage.
Eyes Wide Shut is released a few months following Kubrick’s death, to positive critical reaction and intakes of $162 million worldwide. To ensure an R rating, the studio digitally masks several “steamy” scenes.
In an interview for the Eyes Wide Shut DVD release, Steven
Spielberg comments that “nobody could shoot a picture better in
history”, and that Kubrick told stories in a way “antithetical to the
way we are accustomed to receiving stories”.
1987 Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket– one of the best films about war and its devastating effects on the human psyche. Adapted from Gustav Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers, the film features brilliant actors such as Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio.
R. Lee Ermey plays Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, a drill instructor who is responsible for the mental breakdown of Private Pyle. Ermey ad libs much of his tirades based on his experiences as a U.S. Marine drill instructor during the Vietnam War.
Spielberg will also rely on the support of a real-life drill instructor when directing Saving Private Ryan (1998).
1984 For the first time, Stanley Kubrick lets Steven Spielberg in on his plans to make a film based on Brian Aldiss’ short story about a little robot boy (Super-Toys Last All Summer Long). After having watched E.T. Kubrick feels the story might be more suitable for Spielberg. However, the two directors assert that the special effects technology of that time is not advanced enough.
After Kubrick’s death in 1999, Spielberg creates a film version based on his own screenplay titled A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001).
1980 First contact with Stanley Kubrick: While shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark in London, Spielberg meets Kubrick who is directing the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. Kubrick proudly demontrates his self-constructed viewfinder which he uses to test the framing of a scene before the actual take is shot.
The two directors become and remain friends until Kubrick’s death – their mutual respect and inspiration culminates in their collaboration for A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001). At Kubrick’s funeral Spielberg is one of the pallbearers and says of his friend: “The greatest master I ever served.”