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Fear and Desire

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I was reading an article the other day on the possibility of a prequel to “The Shining” (1980), Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel. Apparently, the project is in its early stages of development but would focus on what happened at the haunted Overlook Hotel before the Torrance family arrived. While I’m not sure how I feel about that idea, I can say the original movie, starring Jack Nicholson, was a disturbing one. Frankly, I love horror movies, and the ones that have a psychological bent, like “The Shining,” always get me. Noted director Martin Scorsese ranked the film as one of the 11 scariest of all time.

“The Shining” certainly isn’t the only film of Stanley Kubrick’s that has provoked, mesmerized and entertained moviegoers for decades. “A Clockwork Orange” (1972) and “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) are illustrative of a body of work that explored and pushed multiple genres to unforgettable effect.

Credit: Kino Lorber

Now, the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., has restored Kubrick’s first feature-length film, “Fear and Desire” (1953), which foreshadows his later war-themed works “Full Metal Jacket” (1988) and “Paths of Glory” (1957). The film, which follows a squad of soldiers who have crash-landed behind enemy lines and must work their way downriver to rejoin their unit, has rarely been shown since its original release.


Kino Lorber Inc. will make the restored film available for sale on Blu-ray and DVD in October.

The restoration of “Fear and Desire” is among the most recent illustrations of the Library’s efforts to ensure America’s audio-visual legacy is preserved for future generations. Some of the institution’s other major preservation projects include “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), “The Emperor Jones” (1933), and the pre-release version of “Baby Face” (1933).

The Library’s Packard Campus acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs and sound recordings. It is home to more than 6 million collection items and provides support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board and the National Film Registry.

And, Kubrick has a pretty solid presence on the film registry. In addition to “Paths of Glory” (named in 1992) and “2001: A Space Odyssey” (named in 1991), 1964’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” was named to the inaugural Registry list in 1989.

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