Men In Black's Visual Style Supposedly Came From Stanley Kubrick

Great films often take pages from the works of great filmmakers, and "Men In Black" is no exception to the rule. "Men In Black" features various unique alien designs with their own creative influences and originations. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, creature effects artist Rick Baker discussed the origins of Vincent D'Onofrio's performance of Edgar, the hapless farmer who was consumed and possessed by the insectoid alien that crash landed in his backyard. Understanding D'Onofrio's physical malleability in his iconic role as Gomer Pyle in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket," Baker discussed the harrowing process of artificially stretching the actor's skin to accomplish the sock puppet-like appearance of the alien. "We put Vincent through hell," explains Baker. "His eyelids were glued shut all day." D'Onofrio gained 70 pounds to play the role of Gomer Pyle for Kubrick's 1987 film, so he is no stranger to extreme bodily transformations on the silver screen.

The inspiration behind the inspiration

In keeping with the unwritten rule of inspiration, Stanley Kubrick's depiction of Gomer Pyle may have originated from another source. During the arduous year-long production of "Full Metal Jacket," D'Onofrio spent his time watching and studying films starring the expressive actor Lon Chaney. Lon Chaney's historic decades-long career of impressive makeup effects earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces." Lon Chaney starred in various classic silent horror films like 1925's "Phantom of the Opera" and 1923's "Hunchback of Notre Dame," each featuring extremely distorted faces of the actor. Before shooting the bloody scene where Gomer Pyle snaps and brutally murders Sergeant Hartman, Kubrick instructed D'Onofrio to go "Lon Chaney big." While this may be unintentional on Kubrick's part, it certainly encouraged D'Onofrio to give the emotional climax his character deserved. D'Onofrio's physical versatility as an actor made him the ideal choice for both Kubrick and "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld.

Another wink and nod to Stanley Kubrick

During his interview with Nerdist, Sonnenfeld shed more light on his directorial influence from Kubrick. While Kubrick is best known for his horror and drama films, Sonnenfeld attributed some of his visual style to "Dr. Strangelove." Tired of most comedies using plain lighting and multi-camera sets, Sonnenfeld opted to follow the footsteps of Kubrick by utilizing wide-angle shots and a single-camera setup. Unlike other modern comedy films, Sonnenfeld used the camera as a participatory part of the film rather than a stationary piece. This means the camera moves with the action and captures more of the emotional weight of the comedic scenarios. This can make the picture feel more exaggerated and visceral rather than sterile and monotonous. While Sonnenfeld has distinct differences from Kubrick's style, he cites the famous filmmaker as a mentor for avoiding overcutting scenes and preserving each shot whenever it visually works. "Those are things I learned from Kubrick, weirdly enough," states Sonnenfeld.