Could Kubrick’s Holocaust film get made after all?

Posted by · 5:39 am · August 10th, 2009

Stanley Kubrick“Aryan Papers” is a title that is probably familiar to keen students of the great Stanley Kubrick, representing as it does a sadly missed opportunity in his abruptly curtailed career.

For the uninformed, however, it’s the name of a Holocaust-themed Kubrick screenplay that he was due to direct for Warner Bros. in early 1990s, before the arrival of Steven Spielberg’s similarly targeted “Schindler’s List” compelled director and studio to shelve the project.

Now it appears that Kubrick’s family is seeking to resurrect the project, which is still owned by Warner Bros., with Kubrick’s brother-in-law (and executive producer on his last four features) Jan Harlan leading the charge.

The Times reports:

Harlan said the studio should employ a leading director such as Ang Lee, who made the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, to bring Kubrick’s vision to the screen. He said he would happily become involved in the project again.

“I regret it never got made but it was a decision made by Kubrick and Warner Bros, probably very wisely at the time,” said Harlan, the brother of Kubrick’s wife Christiane … Warner Bros said it was unable to confirm if it had any plans to resurrect the film.

The script is an adaptation of “Wartime Lies,” the highly acclaimed debut novel by Polish-American writer and Holocaust survivor Louis Begley (who also penned “About Schmidt”). It tells the story of a young Jewish woman and her nephew escaping Nazi persecution by masquerading as Catholics. (It is inspired by events in Begley’s own childhood.)

Obviously, there’s not much to this story other than one man’s wish, but it’s an enticing prospect all the same. Of course, even if the film were ever to get made, it would give us little indication of what vision Kubrick might have brought to the now-shopworn cinematic territory of the Holocaust, but it’d be poignant to see the man get one final screen credit.

(Meanwhile, the cynical among us could speculate that a Holocaust film would represent Kubrick’s best shot at an Oscar to date, but that’s hardly the most interesting thing about the idea.)

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 8-10-2009 at 6:33 am

    Anthony said...

    I’d rather see someone take a whack at Napoleon.

  • 2 8-10-2009 at 6:44 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    Eh — I’d rather not see it be made. “A.I.” was bad enough.

  • 3 8-10-2009 at 7:14 am

    RJNeb2 said...

    As long as it doesn’t turn out as badly as “The Reader”. Yawn.

  • 4 8-10-2009 at 7:33 am

    Cameron said...

    This sounds intriguing-if it’s the closest thing we’ll get to Kubrick himself directing from beyond the grave, then I’m all for it

  • 5 8-10-2009 at 8:21 am

    Encore Entertainment said...

    I would love to see this get made. As good a film as it was I was never a fan of Schindler’s List. And Ange Lee is a good choice. I wonder who they’d cast…

  • 6 8-10-2009 at 8:48 am

    Mike said...

    If Spielberg directs this… I’ll lose all remaining faith in humanity.

  • 7 8-10-2009 at 9:23 am

    BDM said...

    I think Paul Thomas Anderson would be the ideal choice to direct it. His style from There Will Be Blood had small traces of Kubrick in it’s structure.

  • 8 8-10-2009 at 9:27 am

    Reuben said...

    What’s with all the Spielberg bashing lately? Yea, some of his recent stuff hasn’t been up to par with his past work but the man still is one of the best and most influential American filmmakers of all time.

  • 9 8-10-2009 at 10:07 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    It’s snobbish children that don’t realise how much we actually owe to him for being just the most entertaining director ever.

  • 10 8-10-2009 at 10:24 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    I’m not bashing Spielberg, by the way, but the dude is a totoal sellout now and “A.I.” was simply a bad movie in my mind. He’s never been the same since those last 20 minutes.

  • 11 8-10-2009 at 10:36 am

    Mr. Gittes said...

    So would Harlan be working from a draft by William Monahan? I hope so.

  • 12 8-10-2009 at 11:09 am

    alynch said...

    I never really understood abandoning this project in the first place. Kubrick didn’t want to make a Holocaust film because Spielberg was making one, Yet he made a Vietnam film at a time when they were all over the place.

  • 13 8-10-2009 at 11:14 am

    Chris138 said...

    Oh boy, more Holocaust movies.

  • 14 8-10-2009 at 12:02 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I also agree that Boney would make a far more fascinating film.

  • 15 8-11-2009 at 8:35 am

    Ben said...


    He felt burnt by FMJ being overshadowed by Platoon and didn’t want it to happen again when he was planning this in the early 90’s.