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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Fear and Desire

1953 | United States | 62 min
aka:
  • The Trap
  • Shape of Fear
  • Watched on Monday Nov 30, 2020 via Amazon
    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Stanley Kubrick’s debut feature. During an unnamed conflict, four soldiers crash-land in enemy territory and confront the horrors of war. According to the IMDb, Kubrick disowned the film, comparing it to “a child’s drawing on a fridge.” Fair enough, if said child possesses Kubrick’s potential.

    The execution waffles between genius formal rigor and overwrought amateur antics. Consider the scene where the group ambushes a pair of enemy soldiers. The inspired editing offers no gore, but conveys the assault’s brutal violence. Yet it plays too long. Ditto Paul Mazursky’s performance, which begins low key, conveying volumes in simple gazes but grows unbounded into caricature. Young Kubrick had yet to master when less is more.

    Despite these flaws, Fear and Desire proves worth watching. At only an hour and two minutes, it requires a small investment. And for those who aspire to greatness, seeing (perhaps) the greatest formal master’s early work may offer inspiration. Kubrick didn’t emerge fully formed, he needed practice and time.