Danny on Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition
As we’ve chronicled here in recent weeks, Danny is a long-time fan of film director Stanley Kubrick, and was very excited to be invited to be part of the Design Museum’s pre-publicity for their current Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition. He created a set of animations adding a touch of his own style to iconic Kubrick scenes. Now he’s finally managed to get along to the exhibition itself, so we took the opportunity to find out what he made of it.
First, we should probably establish what Kubrick means to you. How did you first come across him and his work?
When I was a kid I remember my dad talking about how he saw 2001: A Space Odyssey when it came out. However, the first Kubrick film I remember properly watching was Full Metal Jacket. I’d seen the poster in the video shop for years. I think it was on TV when I was in high school. I remember going in the next day and friends saying how they didn’t like it because ‘it’s not Platoon’ and not much happened (action-wise). I remember feeling like I preferred the characters in Full Metal. Maybe because you are with them in boot camp and then with them in war.
What appealed to you about what you saw?
The characters appealed to me. I also loved the interview scenes with the soldiers. Everyone talks about the precision of his films visually, but it’s the characters in his films that got me into his films first. Perhaps it’s also in the way they are presented in the shot adds to their personality or perhaps it’s just because they are well-rounded and the fact precise film-making is not just about the visuals.
What do you think makes Kubrick stand out as a film-maker?
Attention to detail and quality control.
Has your appreciation changed or matured since then?
Of course. You constantly find new things. However, now it’s also about finding the things that influenced his films. Digging deeper.
Have you seen all Kubrick’s films?
Do you have a favourite? If so, why that one?
I go through phases. I’d say my most watched is A Clockwork Orange, so it could be said that is my favourite. However, over the past few years Barry Lyndon is quickly becoming a film I love to play when I can’t find anything to watch. Dr Strangelove is also one of those films I love to play, even in the background. So one of those I’d say.
On to the exhibition itself – did you approve overall?
I don’t think anyone cares about ‘my approval’, but yes, there was a ton of work to dig through.
What was the item that most impressed you?
All the detail. There was a shooting board plan for his unmade Napoleon film that was the most meticulous piece of pre-production I’ve ever seen.
Was there an item you would have liked to hide under your jacket and take home?
Joker’s helmet and all the lenses. Oh, and the clapperboards.
Did the exhibition change your view of Kubrick in any way?
No. It just reinforced a few things.
Did you recognise any of Kubrick’s obsessive nature in yourself?
I don’t think so. That’s maybe a question for the people I work with!
Do you think you learned anything that you’ll apply to your own film-making?
In general from Kubrick, yes, I’ve learned many things. I’ve learned a lot from other directors too. Kubrick is very particular, his style was an obsessive style. I’m much more loose, but I think you should try to know as many different approaches to telling stories as possible.
With Kubrick the most important thing I’ve learned is staying true to your vision and going on that journey for as long as it takes.
However, it’s the dream of filming and not a typical reality.
Who would you next like to see as the subject of a major exhibition?
Kurosawa or Wu-Tang.
When the Design Museum eventually gets round to a Danny Sangra retrospective, what do you reckon will be the centrepiece?
A wax-work statue of me, wearing Samurai armour.
Photos Ed Reeve