Vanishing Point: A supercut of Stanley Kubrick’s one-point perspectives

By on July 26, 2015

Today, we’re remembering one of Night Flight’s favorites, director Stanley Kubrick , who was born on July 26, 1928, in The Bronx, NYC (he died on March 7, 1999) by taking a look at one of our favorite supercuts, by video essayist Kogonada, highlighting Kubrick’s use of “one-point perspective,” which refers to compositions in which spatial planes converge at one vanishing point in the distance.

As the video shows, Kubrick also tended to place his subjects right over that vanishing point, dead-center in the frame, making any symmetry (especially in creepy twins) particularly striking. As we understand it, a one point perspective is achieved when the painting plate (also known as the picture plane) is parallel to two axes of a rectilinear (or Cartesian) scene. Got that?

Kubrick began using the one-point perspective early on, after developing a passion for photography at age thirteen, when his father bought him a Graflex camera. When he was just 16 and in high school, Kubrick shot a photograph of a news vendor the day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and submitted it to Look magazine. Look printed the photo and soon hired him as a freelance apprentice photographer, in 1946, and later as full-time staff photographer.

KUBRICK ONE POINT PERSPECTIVE 1

In the summer of 1949, the magazine sent Kubrick to the Windy City to shoot for the story “Chicago City of Contrast.” This photo, “State Street, Chicago, 1949,” reveals how he used the one-point perspective even before he made his first film.

By the way, we would have frankly preferred to hear something other than Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna,” performed by the Kronos Quartet — once again taken from the soundtrack to Darren Aronofky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000) — which we guess has become kind of the go-to piece of music for many of these supercuts, not to mention its use in so many movie trailers and even re-purposed or re-orchestrated for use in other film soundtracks (like Lord of the Rings: Two Towers). Something connected to a Kubrick score would have been more appropriate, even a little Krzysztof Penderecki, are we right?

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.