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Presenting the Unpresentable: Stanley Kubrick’s Filming Occultism in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2023, 36(2), pp.175-207
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : July 15, 2023
  • Accepted : August 7, 2023
  • Published : August 31, 2023

Jing Zhu 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper proposes to revisit the mysterious scenarios in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and to formulate an occult parataxis between the two key cinematic works. By investigating the symbols of the occult in the two “slow movies,” the paper proves that Kubrick is not only a film artist who employed optical and aural illusions to elucidate and conclude the unseen nature and social ordering, but also a self-reflective philosopher who explored conceptual and physical allusions to contemplate and seek the answers to the uncertainty of life and death, progress and destruction, and transience and permanence. In substantiating the assertion, an in-depth analysis is conducted concerning Kubrick’s application of Occultism in the two classic works, utilizing Aleister Crowley’s theory of Magick and Mysticism as the principal analytical underpinning. The paper further investigates Kubrick’s filming operation of occultism by connecting the patterns of magick manifestation to the concept of the sublime, indicating that the attainment of non-attainment in the two movies is what Kubrick mainly targeted for within the representation of ceremonies and myths. That is to say, Kubrick succeeded in presenting the unpresentable by alternately reviving and depressing the “dead ceremony” and the “living myth” so that his occultism empire can be constructed in cinematic world.

Citation status

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