Shining example

Richard Daniels brings his enthusiasm for Stanley Kubrick's films to his work as an archivist at the University of Arts London

March 20, 2008

Running the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London is a delicate balancing act. Fans of the late film director have a habit of dropping by unannounced - and they do not always have a full appreciation of the difference between an archive and a museum.

"We don't want to conflict with the running of a working archive, but we also have to satiate that public appetite," said Richard Daniels, the archive's new senior archivist, who shares the fans' enthusiasm.

"I don't think you really can like film and not like Kubrick ... It is the work of a genius. There isn't another archive like this and I don't think there is another film-maker like Kubrick."

When the director's collection arrived at the university in March last year, it covered 870 metres of shelving and filled more than 1,000 boxes. As it demonstrates, Kubrick planned his films meticulously. "He had a finger in the pie of every aspect of film-making, from the initial research and writing of the script, all the way through to designing the adverts and checking up on where they appeared in the newspapers," said Mr Daniels, 31.

"As an archivist, I'm especially excited about the records that show the process of making films, (including) books the films are based on with Kubrick's own notes in them, and annotated scripts. We have boxes and boxes of them."

Research photographs reveal how locations were transformed into the historical or exotic. "Most of the Vietnam scenes in Full Metal Jacket were filmed at Beckton gasworks so we've got photos with pencil drawings on tracing paper showing pagodas or palm trees to make Beckton look like Vietnam."

There are special effects materials for 2001: A Space Odyssey, 12 metres of press cuttings for A Clockwork Orange, and no fewer than 92 boxes of location photographs for Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final work.

Visitors to the archives range from television researchers to authors researching books and students from the university.

As well as cataloguing and storing materials, answering enquiries and organising exhibitions and tours, Mr Daniels deals with legal issues such as copyright and intellectual property. "There is something amazing about seeing people get excited when they touch original archives and find new information, whether it is finding a script for a film that was never made or scenes that were never made," he said.

"You can read about the fact that Kubrick intended to make a film on Napoleon, but that is no substitute for holding the script and seeing how he intended to do it."

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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