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The Post-Mortem Films of Stanley Kubrick

June 24, 2016

What do the 2002 sci-fi movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and a new miniseries about Napoleon have in common? Both are upcoming Stanley Kubrick projects…although the legendary director died in 1999.
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

In the 1970s, Kubrick started work on a film version of Brian Aldiss’s short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long.” It’s an introspective tale about a hyper-intelligent robot in the future that yearns to be year. He hired Aldiss to write an outline and expansion of the story, and then multiple screenplays were drafted throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s while Kubrick conducted special effects tests and auditioned multiple actors. But by 1995, after two decades of intermittent work on the movie, Kubrick got bored, and decided to make Eyes Wide Shut, which would ultimately be his last film. He asked Steven Spielberg to finish the movie for him, but Spielberg put it off in favor of his own work. When Kubrick died in 1999, Spielberg finished the movie, retitled A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, as a tribute.

Napoleon

Stanley Kubrick began planning Napoleon in 1969, immediately after the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick conducted a staggering amount of research, amassing a cross-referencing card catalog of the events, places, and people in Napoleon’s life. To film battle scenes (a major element of the life of the man who tried to conquer Europe in the 1800s), Kubrick had secured more than 50,000 Romanian troops and had booked locations throughout France and the U.K. Set to star Jack Nicholson in the title role and Audrey Hepburn as the protagonist’s wife, Josephine, Kubrick told investors that Napoleon would be “the best movie ever made.” It ultimately never got made at all because it would’ve cost too much, not to mention another Napoleon movie beat him to the theaters: the 1970 epic Waterloo. Napoleon entered Hollywood legend as one of the greatest unmade movies in history. That’s why in 2013, Steven Spielberg announced that he would work closely with Kubrick’s family—as well as with the extensive research left behind—to bring Kubrick’s vision of Napoleon to life. Using the original screenplay, a miniseries version of Napoleon will air on HBO in 2017.

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