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1,755 Ratings

Fear and Desire

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
United States, 1953


Kubrick’s debut feature tells the story of a war waged between two forces. In the midst of the conflict, a plane carrying four soldiers crashes behind enemy lines. From here out, it is kill or be killed.

Our take

Famously, Stanley Kubrick spent decades suppressing this, his first feature. We think he was too hard on himself: Fear and Desire is a rough B-movie spiked with inspired ideas and imagery, and its long sought-after availability allows us to trace the origins of the master.

Fear and Desire Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Critics reviews

The cuts are severe, alienating, disruptive, confusing and jarring the narrative flow like hiccups. The wartime allegory is forced, the soldiers are a group of penny-ante philosophers, and the drama smothered in atmosphere. The script is laden, wet with languorous monologues dragged out of the post-synchronized voices. And yet, there is more to love here than in many of Kubrick’s other early films.
June 05, 2015
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Kubrick, an accomplished photographer since his teens, uses the woodland locations to atmospheric effect. (He shot and edited the film himself.) And especially in the scenes designed to convey the soldiers’ growing inner turmoil, the direction has a crude, off-kilter energy.
October 26, 2012
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It does Kubrick, one of the medium’s entrenched high artists, no favors to overrate his debut. While the surrealist, pseudo-Buñuelian setup of Fear and Desire as a barebones, modernist imagining of a war film immediately impresses itself in its novelty, the constraints of Kubrick’s $50,000 micro budget and sparse, skeleton crew are all too apparent as the film begins to wander, adrift like its own marooned GIs.
October 22, 2012
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