Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
One of the film related highlights at this year’s Edinburgh festival is an exhibition called Unfolding the Aryan Papers, revealing the research carried out by Stanley Kubrick in preparation for filming an adaptation of the novel War Time Lies. Ahead of the exhibition opening, word has come that a new attempt to realize the film version, The Aryan Papers, could be on the cards.
In the last few decades of his life, Stanley Kubrick built up an ever deepening reputation as a reclusive, eccentric obsessive who spent vast amounts of time and resources in the elaborate planning of his feature films, a number of which were never ultimately realized. This was at least partly deserved, as amply illustrated by the vast legacy of archived research material that Kubrick has left behind. For more on the research files in general, I’d recommend Jon Ronson’s superb documentary Kubrick’s Boxes, for a more specific study of The Aryan Papers, hopping on a plane to Edinburgh should sort you out a treat.
Kubrick’s brother-in-law Jan Harlan appears to have been acting as the executor of Kubrick’s cultural legacy. He was one of the producers responsible for Spielberg’s AI – and it was Spielberg’s AI, not at all Kubrick’s – and now it looks like Harlan seems keen on resurrecting The Aryan Papers too.
The Times discuss the distinct possibility of the film being kick-started again:
Warner Bros still owns the rights to the film… and Harlan said the studio should employ a leading director such as Ang Lee, who made the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, to bring Kubrick’s vision to the screen. He said he would happily become involved in the project again.
Of course he would.
The film was apparently scrapped shortly ahead of production because Kubrick and Warner Bros. agreed “that it would be a mistake to release it as audiences would not take to a second film focusing on the same subject” as Schindler’s List.
They’re definitely right that there’s space for a film like this now, but I’d argue there was room for another (or even several more) ahead, alongside or in the wake of Schindler’s List too. I can’t see that, for example, The Pianist suffered at all from any comparisons to Spielberg’s film.
Don’t be surprised to see this film move into active redevelopment sometime soon. Do be surprised if the production actually employs the dense, complex screenplay Kubrick had crafted. Ang Lee does sound like a likely director, too… or Paul Thomas Anderson maybe?