The words “enigma” and “mystery” are often linked with director Stanley Kubrick, the legendary filmmaker whose work, confounding as it sometimes was, has been embedded into popular culture and inspired legions of devotees to parse over every detail for hidden messages and symbols.
Next month, Baltimore cinephiles will get to hear from one of the people with the greatest insight into Kubrick’s method and genius, Leon Vitali, the Parkway Theatre announced today.
Starting in the summer, the Parkway has screened nearly all of Kubrick’s filmography to mark what would have been his 90th birthday. Vitali will take part in two Q&A sessions following screenings of the 1975 period piece “Barry Lyndon” on Dec. 13 and 15.
“He offers the unique opportunity to dialogue with a close collaborator to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, someone who transformed film history,” writes Scott Braid, director of programming for the Maryland Film Festival, in an email. “Leon’s insights offer a chance to get a very real and human view of what it is to work in service of another person’s artistic vision and what it is to work with a meticulous master of the art form. We look forward to the opportunity to share this wonderful man and his fantastic experiences with the Baltimore community.”
Vitali was a successful British TV actor when he was cast as Lord Bullingdon in “Barry Lyndon.” From there, he took on a variety of roles in the later Kubrick films “Full Metal Jacket,” “The Shining” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” ranging from casting director to manual laborer to marketer, says the Los Angeles Times, which refers to Vitali as both a “worker ant” and “The Kubrick Whisperer.”
His unique role as the director’s assistant and collaborator was recently chronicled in the 2017 documentary “Filmworker,” the trailer for which casts Vitali in a similarly binary fashion. R. Lee Ermey, the constantly shouting, hard-ass drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” says, “If it wasn’t for Leon Vitali, I doubt I would have done half the job.” Co-star Matthew Modine, meanwhile, refers to Vitali’s devotion as “a crucifixion of himself.”
Without a doubt, Kubrick fans won’t want to miss the chance to talk about the filmmaker with one of the people who knew him best.
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