Notorious filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) has always been depicted by the media as the Howard Hughes of film directors, a weird artist obsessed with his work to the point of seclusion. Books, newspaper articles and documentaries have always insisted on this supposed aura of mystery, megalomaniac ingeniousness, and hermitage. But who was the real Stanley Kubrick? Emilio D’Alessandro was closely associated with him every day for thirty years, as closely as a member of the Kubrick family. This is the first book that allows us to see Kubrick through the eyes of someone who knew him very well.
In 1960, aged 18, Emilio D’Alessandro from Cassino, Italy, goes to England to work and establish a new life. In London he becomes a Formula Ford driver, racing against the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt. Just when he is ready to jump to Formula One competitions, the economic crisis of the late ’60s puts Emilio’s dream to an end. He then finds a job as a minicab driver, taking famous directors and actors of British cinema to the studios in Borehamwood. And suddenly, at the end of 1970, he is summoned by a certain Mr Kubrick who wants to buy his time exclusively.
Being an indispensable element of Kubrick’s film productions, Emilio becomes familiar with all the secrets of the master’s craft: from the meetings with the screenwriters to the location scouting, film tests, rehearsals, editing – Emilio is always there with Kubrick, witnessing the director’s inventiveness in producing large-scale films with small crews, almost guerrilla style. Equally, Emilio is privy to the thoughts, apprehensions and joys of Kubrick’s collaborators – as the classic figure of the friendly taxi driver: Ryan O’Neal’s enthusiasm, Jack Nicholson’s boldness, Shelley Duvall’s troubles during the countless takes on The Shining, and Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s utter devotion to Eyes Wide Shut. Emilio is also an invaluable help in organizing Childwickbury, the huge manor house where Kubrick lives and works, and after a few years he comes to be the only one in charge of the director’s private rooms. Loyal, discreet, sincere, Emilio obtains Kubrick’s complete trust and slowly evolves from a factotum to his right-hand man, closest friend and confidant.
Stanley Kubrick & Me tells Emilio’s life in candid first-person narration, exploiting his point of view as a way to access both the adventurous events of Emilio’s first years in London and his gradually developing acquaintance with Kubrick. The reader, even if unfamiliar with the details of Kubrick’s life and work, is immediately brought into the frantic cinematic world, amazed – just as Emilio is – by the construction of the colossal studio sets and increasingly charmed by Kubrick’s absolute dedication to the art of filmmaking.
It is precisely the peculiar nature of Emilio – an alien in the moviemaking business – that allows the reader to get to know actors, technicians and ultimately Kubrick from a fresh and often amusing perspective.
Emilio’s point of view is both intimate and ubiquitous. Virtually everyone involved in any film by Kubrick knew Emilio: his presence is in fact included in many accounts that were published after Kubrick’s death; Emilio is mentioned in articles and recollections by A.I. writers Brian Aldiss and Sara Maitland, he is warmly remembered in Matthew Modine’s Full Metal Jacket Diary and plays a substantial role in Ian Watson’s piece for Playboy magazine “Plumbing Stanley Kubrick”. Michael Herr aptly wrote in his book: “whether I realized it or not [Emilio] was about to become my new best friend.” Now, for the first time, Emilio’s exclusive access to the secrets and enigmas of Stanley Kubrick is available to every reader.
Both a biography of a remarkable man and a homage to the director, Stanley Kubrick & Me keeps a hybrid quality by choice: work issues are entwined with personal and family matters, and the events of Emilio’s life become increasingly linked to Stanley’s, in a book about Kubrick that gains momentum like a novel.
Who was the real Stanley Kubrick?
For the first time Emilio’s exclusive access to the secrets and enigmas of Stanley Kubrick is available to every reader.