Over a 48 year career, Stanley Kurbrick only directed 17 movies and documentaries. He was a man with a famous attention-to-detail (infamous based on who you talk to). His precision and dedication as a filmmaker created some of the most amazing films of all time that beautifully combined mesmerizing visuals, immersive storytelling, and infinite subtext. He also had a way of just telling you as it was, refusing to sacrifice or compromise his visions that sought to critically analyze both the characters of his story and humanity itself.
In the end, he remains one of the greatest influences of modern cinema. But as many films as he directed, he actually had quite a list of unproduced and unfinished scripts he worked on throughout the years. In fact, recently Nathan Abrams, a professor in film at Wales’ Bangor University, has apparently unearthed Kubrick’s Burning Secret, a long-lost screenplay meant to be an adaptation of the 1913 novella by acclaimed Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.
Described as an inverse of Lolita (Another adaptation Kubrick directed in 1962), the story follows a suave insurance salesman who befriends a ten-year-old boy at a spa resort so he is able to seduce the child’s married mother. While Abrams says the film set the location in the US with all American characters and names, the original story saw the mother and son characters as Jewish with the story set in a resort is in Austria.
This is a lost treasure to many as there actually is a record on Kubrick writing the film with novelist Calder Willingham, an author known for the source material for the 1967 film The Graduate. While the film was never produced, Kubrick and Willingham would end up working together the very next year on Kubrick’s 1957 film Paths of Glory.
According to Abrams, the script was actually close to completion that it could be made into a movie and even has the stamp of the script department of MGM. This of course follows the trend recently scene with the late-and-great director Akira Kurosawa’s unproduced script The Mask of the Black Death actually set to be made with an expected 2020 release date (See that news here).
Whether that happens or not depends on the son of one of Kubrick’s former collaborators (Who wishes to remain anonymous), who Abrams discovered while researching his next book about Kubrick actually has ownership of the script. On an interesting note, Kubrick’s former assistant Andrew Birkin filmed an adaptation of Burning Secret (From a different screenplay) in 1988. I have been unable to find how the film was received back then except that it had won the Young Jury Prize at the Brussels Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival for co-star of the film David Eberts, both in 1989. That film has yet to be released on DVD even.
But let’s be honest…it be interesting to see what Kubrick’s version would look like. Granted, probably no director now could capture the same essence as him. Several imitators no doubt, but for now the mere find of such a piece of cinematic history is one any hardcore film fan can appreciate. Stay tuned!