STANLEY KUBRICK'S THE KILLING
A SHOT-BY-SHOT ANALYSIS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
For the real film buff, I've gone through and listed shots, images from each, and length of time of shots. Because I raised myself on the old Evergreen Black Cat cinema books which took pains to do the same and loved studying them. And because that is the only way to really begin to do a good, involved analysis of Kubrick's films, which are very complex internally and in their relationships as an oeuvre.
Kubrick's films elicit a lot of whys and wherefores, "What does this mean?", because he included so many seeming puzzles inviting review, mysteries that demanded second and third notice, editing quirks and both subtle and obvious shifts in staging. My analyses haven't much to do with the psychology, but look at Kubrick's choices of stories, music, places he filmed, staging, the differences between the literature and the script that made it onto celluloid and how he chose to edit it all together, carrying themes from film to film, and based on these elements I dip into a variety of possible influences.
Part One (shots 1 - 97)
Preliminary - Timeline
Credits and Intro at the Race Track, Shots 1 through 10
Notes on Credits and Intro at the Race Track. These shots are of the critical race. Bay Meadows and Lansdowne. Perhaps I should relate a brief summary of the story of Pagliacci before going further. The play within the play and the breaking of the fourth wall.
Introducing Marvin Unger, the Bartender, and the Cashier, Saturday 3:45 P.M., Shots 11 through 28
Introducing Marvin Unger: Things to note.. Marvin Unger. The crowd. The sweeper anticipating the film's end. The window. The Shining. Marvin's ticket.
The Patrolman, Randy Keenan, Saturday 2:45 PM, Shots 29 through 44
Introducing Randy Keenan: Things to Note. Order of introduction of the characters. The character of Randy. The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut.
Johnny Clay and Fay, Saturday 7:00 PM, Shots 45 through 49
Introducing Johnny and Fay: Things to Note. Fay. The bars. Photographing beyond the walls, and Pagliacci.
Mike O'Reilly, The Bartender, and Ruthie, Saturday 6:30 PM, Shots 50 through 53
Introducing Mike and Ruthie: Things to Note. Mike and Ruthie. Mike's view of the note.
George Peatty, the Cashier, and Sherry, Saturday 7:15 PM, Shots 54 through 59
Introducing George and Sherry: Things to Note. Sherry and George. Papa and mama--and the climax to this exciting story? The hole in the head. Set decoration for George and Sherry's apartment.
Sherry's Lover, Val, Shots 60 through 62
Introducing Val: Things to note. Sherry goes running to Val.
Eavesdropper, Saturday 8:00 PM, Shots 63 through 95
Eavesdropper: Things to Note. The scene. Primary difference between the novel and the movie. Pagliaccio, the clown. A fondness for ship's wheel wall lamps and corner curio shelves.
Always and Always, Shots 96 through 97
Always and Always: Things to Note.
What Happens if We Remove the Narration for this Day?
Part Two (shots 98 - 127)
The Academy of Chess and Checkers and Maurice, Tuesday 10:15 AM, Shots 98 through 115
The Academy of Chess and Checkers: Things to Note. Maurice/Nikki the Wrestler. Inspiration for the Chess and Checkers club. Kaddish. HAL and Maurice. Life is like a cup of tea. The mirror shot.
The Gun Range and Nikki, Tuesday, Shots 116 through 124
The Gun Range and Nikki: Things to Note. The flip of the targets. 504. Nikki in the book.
Joe Piano and the Violin Case, Tuesday, Shots 125 through 127
Joe Piano and the Violin Case: Things to Note. Joe Piano. The patzan and the patsy and Pagliaccio. In the bus. Comparing the three scenes of the cabins. 504. Have we an allusion to eavesdropping?
What Happens if We Remove the Narration for This Day?
Part Three (shots 128 - 280)
Storyline Sequence Differences with the Novel for this Section
Saturday 7:30 AM, Breakfast with Sherry and George, Shots 128 through 132
Breakfast with George and Sherry: Things to Note. Did it happen this way in the novel? George's mask. Sherry's lie about her conversation with George.
Saturday 5:00 AM, Breakfast with Red Lightning, Shots 133 through 134
Breakfast with Red Lightning: Things to Note. Not in the book. Oats. Another flip/inversion. Red Lightning and the invisible horse in Killer's Kiss.
Saturday 7:00 AM, Johnny and Marvin, Shots 135 through 146
Johnny and Marvin: Things to Note. The conversation between Marvin and Johnny. Comparing this scene to Johnny and Sherry in the bed.
Saturday 7:00 AM, The Airport, Shots 147 through 148
The Airport: Things to Note. Timeline error. The book's tip for the cab driver and Eyes Wide Shut. 7 thru 9 and the Chess Academy.
Saturday 8:15 AM, The Motel, Shots 149 through 151
The Motel: Things to Note. Those screen doors. Eavesdropping. Ariel and errors.
Saturday 8:45 AM, The Bus Station, Shots152
The Bus Station: Things to Note. Location. 504, 405 and 45.
Saturday 9:20 AM, Mike's Apartment, Shots 153 through 155
Johnny at Mike's Apartment: Things to Note.
Saturday 11:15 AM, Mike's Apartment, Shots 156 through 166
Mike Leaves His Apartment: Things to Note. Saturday 11:29 AM, The Bus Station, Shots 167
Saturday 12:10 PM, The Track, Shots 168 through 176
12:10 at the Track: Things to Note. Human error and/or fate.
The First Race, Marvin Shows Up When He Should Be at a Movie, Shots 177 through 185
The First Race: Things to Note. Not according to plan? Parallels with Pagliacci. Marvin goes to a movie by appearing within one, and this highlights the play within a play aspect of the men performing roles for the heist.
Saturday 3:32 PM, Randy's Radio Goes Dead and He Takes Up His Station, Shots 186 through 193
Saturday 3:32 PM, Randy's Radio Goes Dead: Things to Note. Location. The dead radio. Maternity. Southwest. Seven.
Saturday 2:30 PM, The Chess Club, Maurice at the Track by 4:00, Shots 194 through 233
Maurice Goes From the Chess Club to the Track Where He Has His Fight: Things to Note. Similarity of the Chess Club window shadows to the race track. 204,42 and 4:20. The woman at window 202 in shot 204. The Irish pig and the sweeper. Closed 7 AM through 9 AM. There are some things, my dear Fisher, which do not bear much looking into. Back to Pagliacci. Shot 216.
Saturday 11:40 AM, Nikki, Shot 234
Saturday 11:40 AM: Things to Note. 11:40.
Saturday 12:30 PM, Nikki at the Track, Shots 235 through 280
Saturday 12:30 PM, Nikki at the Track: Things to Note. Differences between the book. The irony of the ornamental good luck horse shoe. The cars behind Nikki. The horse shoe and The Man Between. The horseshoe and The Shining and Lolita.
What Happens if We Remove the Narration for This Day?
Part Four (shots 281 - 400)
Saturday 2:15 PM, Jeffrey's Luggage, Shot 281
Saturday 2:15 PM: Things to Note. Maternity and Christmas (relationship to the yellow VW). Those sevens.
Saturday About 4:20 PM, Shots 282 through 320
Saturday About 4:20 PM: Things to Note. Primary differences between the movie and book. Shots 319 and 320. On Danny Freed.
Saturday, About 7:15 PM, Marvin Unger's, Shots 321 through 339
Saturday About 7:15 PM, Things to Note. Before and after the shooting (the relationship of the flip of the targets to the shooting).
Saturday 6:25 PM, The Motel, Shots 340 through 342
Saturday 6:25 PM: Things to Note
Saturday 7:29 PM, 504 W. Olive, Shot 343
Saturday 7:29 PM: Things to Note. Sudden Fear. The timeline.
Saturday 7:39 PM, Money to Loan Pawn Shop, Shot 344 through 352
Saturday 7:39 PM, Pawn Shop to RR: Things to Note. Pawn shop luggage and the missed chess move. Lenny Bruce at the Gayety or Gaiety? The Relationship with Killer's Kiss. The keys at the RR crossing. The production code and the play within a play. The horse shoe/omega. Sevens. That big bad case.
Not Fair! Not Fair!, Shots 353 through 367
Not Fair! Things to Note. Major departure from the book. The caged bird. Relationship to Lolita.
Saturday, Approaching 9:00 PM, The Airport, Shots 368 through 400
Saturday, Approaching 9:00 PM, The Airport: Things to Note. How different from the book? The woman and her dog (a relationship to Kubrick's LOOK photos). Flight 465 or 40. The dog in The Shining.
Are you one of the league who find Kubrick's cinema fascinating and wonderful but are also confused by seeming peculiarities? Are you certain those often under-the-radar-over-the-head weirdnesses must mean something? Or maybe you're just curious?
Here's my request. That you, please, think in terms of art with intention, which isn't conspiracy and has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. Would you think of music composed of unspoken themes as being conspiracy? What's difficult is teasing out the artist's conscious intention as versus accidental as versus the viewer's role as an active pilgrim walking the road that art provides to accessing the unconscious and mythic, the vast knowledge that has been archived in your brain from birth forward of symbols and metaphors and archetypes through navigating the warehouse of such that is actively and passively feeding you in the cultures of everyday society. As an author and artist, I know what it is to hope for at least a few such pilgrims, confident they are the minority, that most think in terms of being only entertained, and to attempt to compose for both. Even with those who are just wanting a good story, or who want to dissect a film for practical good-cinema purposes, the majority would likely admit that it is the inherent mystery in Kubrick's films that functions as their primary gravity. It is that sense of something deeper, a subterranean coherence that provides the glue, that compels individuals to return and perhaps begin to move, without their even realizing it, from a passive state into a more active, participatory role where art becomes a transformative experience rather than just visual popcorn. For that matter, even a simple detective story can actively engage the viewer, and Kubrick's films have a touch of the detective genre to them. For instance, at the end of The Shining Kubrick zooms in on Jack seemingly appearing in an old photograph of The Overlook, and he is holding what looks like a little slip of paper, a little rectangle of white in the palm of his hand, as if displaying it for us, but what is it? One is compelled to try to solve the mystery of Jack in the photo, what could be in his hand, so one watches the movie again. That's the sleuthing, detective part of watching Kubrick's films.
The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this deconstruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates and reveals these elements that betray the overt and naturalistic story line as being artifice, a studio fiction that rests upon something both more solid and also bizarre. The surface story lines are the principle ones, but they are maintained and supported by the sub rosa dialogue. These deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and play with a purposeful sense of disorientation that when locked into exposes a puzzle that annihilates the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept, and it's easy enough to stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors. But they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why" of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form in the hands of the participant viewer who is engaged rather than a passive recipient.
August 2014 transferred to html. Approx 2290 words or 5 single-spaced pages. A 18 minute read at 130 wpm.