108+ Best Stanley Kubrick Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is frequently cited as one of the most influential filmmakers in cinematic history. Inspirational Stanley Kubrick quotes will challenge the way you think, and make your life worth living.

He went on to direct a number of acclaimed films, including Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), A Clockwork Orange (1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

Most Famous Stanley Kubrick Quotes

Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all. – Stanley Kubrick

If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed. – Stanley Kubrick

Never say no to an idea – you never know how that idea will ignite another idea. – Stanley Kubrick

However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light. – Stanley Kubrick

Don’t get obsessed with not liking a movie. – Stanley Kubrick

A film needs more than you can give it in a lifetime. – Stanley Kubrick

I don’t like doing interviews. There is always the problem of being misquoted or, what’s even worse, of being quoted exactly. – Stanley Kubrick

Any time you take a chance you better be sure the rewards are worth the risk because they can put you away just as fast for a ten-dollar heist as they can for a million dollar job. – Stanley Kubrick

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. – Stanley Kubrick

I never learned anything at all in school and didn’t read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old. – Stanley Kubrick

You either connect or you don’t connect. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a movie. – Stanley Kubrick

Everybody has their black moments. – Stanley Kubrick

You’re an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot. – Stanley Kubrick

The first really important book I read about filmmaking was The Film Technique by Pudovkin. This was some time before I had ever touched a movie camera and it opened my eyes to cutting and montage. – Stanley Kubrick

A satirist is someone who has a very skeptical view of human nature, but who still has the optimism to make some sort of a joke out of it. However brutal that joke might be. – Stanley Kubrick

I’ve never achieved spectacular success with a film. My reputation has grown slowly. I suppose you could say that I’m a successful filmmaker-in that a number of people speak well of me. But none of my films have received unanimously positive reviews, and none have done blockbuster business. – Stanley Kubrick

No philosophy based on an incorrect view of the nature of man is likely to produce social good. – Stanley Kubrick

You know, I often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They’re admired and hero-worshipped but there is always present underlying desire to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory. – Stanley Kubrick

I’m just an old man and I smell bad, remember? – Stanley Kubrick

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas. – Stanley Kubrick

I’m not afraid of dying tomorrow, only of being killed. – Stanley Kubrick

A filmmaker has almost the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper. – Stanley Kubrick

Bad films gave me the courage to try making a movie. – Stanley Kubrick

Some people demand a five-line capsule summary. Something you’d read in a magazine. They want you to say, ‘This is the story of the duality of man and the duplicity of governments.’ I hear people try to do it — give the five-line summary — but if a film has any substance or subtlety, whatever you say is never complete, it’s usually wrong, and it’s necessarily simplistic: truth is too multifaceted to be contained in a five-line summary. If the work is good, what you say about it is usually irrelevant. – Stanley Kubrick

It’s a passion when you’re doing it for other people and you’re doing it for the people around you making the film and the people who are going to see the film, and the giving. When you start thinking about you doing it for some sort of self-gain, then I think it becomes an obsession. It becomes a negative experience. – Stanley Kubrick

[Making movies] you’re not trying to capture reality; you’re trying to capture a photograph of reality. – Stanley Kubrick

The hardest thing in making a movie is to keep in the front of your consciousness your original response to the material. Because that’s going to be the thing that will make the movie. And the loss of that will break the movie. – Stanley Kubrick

The destruction of this planet would have no significance on a cosmic scale: to an observer in the Andromeda nebula, the sign of our extinction would be no more than a match flaring for a second in the heavens: and if that match does blaze in the darkness there will be none to mourn a race that used a power that could have lit a beacon in the stars to light its funeral pyre. The choice is ours. – Stanley Kubrick

The best education in film is to make one – Stanley Kubrick

I don’t think that writers or painters or filmmakers’ function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors. I don’t think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was. – Stanley Kubrick

Like the man said, can happiness buy money? – Stanley Kubrick

It’s a mistake to confuse pity with love. – Stanley Kubrick

I have always enjoyed dealing with a slightly surrealistic situation and presenting it in a realistic manner. I’ve always liked fairy tales and myths, magical stories. I think they are somehow closer to the sense of reality one feels today than the equally stylized ‘realistic’ story in which a great deal of selectivity and omission has to occur in order to preserve its ‘realist’ style. – Stanley Kubrick

You’re constantly changing man. But the film’s not changing. The film stays the same. That’s the beautiful aspect of it. – Stanley Kubrick

There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die. – Stanley Kubrick

The feel of the experience is the important thing, not the ability to verbalize or analyze it. – Stanley Kubrick

Anyone who has ever been privileged to direct a film also knows that, although it can be like trying to write ‘War and Peace’ in a bumper car in an amusement park, when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal the feeling. – Stanley Kubrick

The director’s job is to know what emotional statement he wants a character to convey in his scene or his line, and to exercise taste and judgment in helping the actor give his best possible performance. – Stanley Kubrick

How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: ‘The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.’ This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don’t want this to happen to 2001. – Stanley Kubrick

Everything has changed, but the process of telling a story has not changed. It’s like cavemen sitting around the fire; somebody’s going to tell the story. Somebody is drawing on the wall. You’re communicating. You’re trying to learn and teach at the same time. You’re your own student and you’re your own teacher, but the process is of the communicating. – Stanley Kubrick

All my life I’ve always spoiled the things that meant the most to me. – Stanley Kubrick

Chess teaches you to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good and it trains you to think objectively when you’re in trouble – Stanley Kubrick

It’s crazy how you can get yourself in a mess sometimes and not even be able to think about it with any sense and yet not be able to think about anything else. – Stanley Kubrick

Regret isn’t going to get me anywhere. It’s like being obsessed with something. It doesn’t bring you anywhere. – Stanley Kubrick

I used and abused drugs and alcohol. When I stopped doing that it became a lot clearer that life goes from inside to giving as opposed to taking and destroying. – Stanley Kubrick

From the very beginning, all of my films have divided the critics. Some have thought them wonderful, and others have found very little good to say. But subsequent critical opinion has always resulted in a very remarkable shift to the favorable. In one instance, the same critic who originally rapped the film has several years later put it on an all-time best list. But of course, the lasting and ultimately most important reputation of a film is not based on reviews, but on what, if anything, people say about it over the years, and on how much affection for it they have. – Stanley Kubrick

I will say that the God concept is at the heart of 2001 but not any traditional, anthromorphic image of God. I don’t believe in any of Earth’s monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God, once you accept the fact that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, that each star is a life-giving sun and that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe. – Stanley Kubrick

The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle. – Stanley Kubrick

The truth of a thing is in the feel of it, not in the think of it. – Stanley Kubrick

The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good. – Stanley Kubrick

Everything has already been done. every story has been told every scene has been shot. it’s our job to do it one better. – Stanley Kubrick

Either you care, or you don’t. There’s no in-between. And if you care, then go all of the way. – Stanley Kubrick

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent, but if we can come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light. – Stanley Kubrick

I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don’t want. – Stanley Kubrick

If you really want to communicate something, even if it’s just an emotion or an attitude, let alone an idea, the least effective and least enjoyable way is directly. It only goes in about an inch. But if you can get people to the point where they have to think a moment what it is you’re getting at, and then discover it, the thrill of discovery goes right through the heart. – Stanley Kubrick

Be suspicious of people who have, or crave, power. Never, ever go near power. Don’t become friends with anyone who has real power. It’s dangerous. – Stanley Kubrick

The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. – Stanley Kubrick

Man isn’t a noble savage, he’s an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved-that about sums it up. I’m interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it’s a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure. – Stanley Kubrick

You have not yet learned that in this life you have to be like everyone else: the perfect mediocrity–no better, no worse. Individuality is a monster and it must be strangled in its cradle to make our friends feel comfortable. – Stanley Kubrick

Nothing is as dangerous as a sure thing. – Stanley Kubrick

There’s something in the human personality which resents things that are clear, and conversely, something which is attracted to puzzles, enigmas, and allegories. – Stanley Kubrick

A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later. – Stanley Kubrick

I haven’t come across any recent new ideas in film that strike me as being particularly important and that have to do with form. I think that a preoccupation with originality of form is more or less a fruitless thing. A truly original person with a truly original mind will not be able to function in the old form and will simply do something different. Others had much better think of the form as being some sort of classical tradition and try to work within it. – Stanley Kubrick

I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker. – Stanley Kubrick

In any case, once you’re dealing on a nonverbal level, ambiguity is unavoidable. But it’s the ambiguity of all art, of a fine piece of music or a painting – you don’t need written instructions by the composer or painter accompanying such works to ‘explain’ them. “Explaining" them contributes nothing but a superficial ‘cultural’ value which has no value except for critics and teachers who have to earn a living. – Stanley Kubrick

The essence of dramatic form is to let an idea come over people without it being plainly stated. When you say something directly, it’s simply not as potent as it is when you allow people to discover it for themselves. – Stanley Kubrick

I love editing. I think I like it more than any other phase of film making. If I wanted to be frivolous, I might say that everything that precedes editing is merely a way of producing film to edit. – Stanley Kubrick

When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man. – Stanley Kubrick

Here’s to five miserable months on the wagon and the irreparable harm that it’s caused me. – Stanley Kubrick

What do you take me for? A fourteen-karat sucker? – Stanley Kubrick

I’ve got a peculiar weakness for criminals and artists-neither takes life as it is. Any tragic story has to be in conflict with things as they are. – Stanley Kubrick

The greatest nations have all acted like gangsters and the smallest like prostitutes. – Stanley Kubrick

I’m a slave to my imagination in terms of making narrative films. – Stanley Kubrick

Busy people begrudge the days being short. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. – Stanley Kubrick

Suppose by chance you do get picked up. What have you done? You shot a horse; that isn’t first degree murder; in fact, it isn’t even murder; in fact, I don’t know what it is. – Stanley Kubrick

I, uh, don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir. – Stanley Kubrick

I’ve never laid a cane on the back of a lord before, but if you force me to I shall speedily become used to the practice. – Stanley Kubrick

If you can talk brilliantly about a problem – Stanley Kubrick

The world’s religions, for all their parochialism, did supply a kind of consolation for this great ache… This shattering recognition of our mortality is at the root of far more mental illness than I suspect even psychiatrists are aware. – Stanley Kubrick

The lasting and ultimately most important reputation of a film is not based on reviews, but on what, if anything, people say about it over the years, and on how much affection for it they have. – Stanley Kubrick

If Gary Cooper and Henry Fonda had a baby, it would be Matthew Modine. – Stanley Kubrick

Critical opinion on my films has always been salvaged by what I would call subsequent critical opinion. – Stanley Kubrick

My reputation has grown slowly. – Stanley Kubrick

How does anybody ever think of anything? – Stanley Kubrick

The dead know only one thing, it is better to be alive – Stanley Kubrick

The whole idea of god is absurd. If anything, ‘2001’ shows that what some people call ‘god’ is simply an acceptable term for their ignorance. What they don’t understand, they call ‘god’ -Stanley Kubrick, interview, 1963 – Stanley Kubrick

Take a stress pill and think things over– HAL in 2001 – Stanley Kubrick

I didn’t want murder. It’s all gone wrong. – Stanley Kubrick

It’s impossible to tell you what I’m going to do except to say that I expect to make the best movie ever made. – Stanley Kubrick

You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point. – Stanley Kubrick

Art consists of reshaping life, but it does not create life, nor cause life. – Stanley Kubrick

I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed, Mr. President, but I do say not more than ten to twenty million dead depending upon the breaks. – Stanley Kubrick

Anybody who runs is a VC. Anybody who stands still is a well-disciplined VC. – Stanley Kubrick

Have you ever had a single moment’s thought about my responsibilities? – Stanley Kubrick

Private Joker is silly and he’s ignorant, but he’s got guts and guts is enough. – Stanley Kubrick

God has a hard-on for a Marine because we kill everything we see. He plays His game, we play ours. – Stanley Kubrick

Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines things. – Stanley Kubrick

Don’t do anything. Just tolerate me and let me suffer, knowing how you feel. – Stanley Kubrick

Know what it is the emotional statement to convey and use taste and judgement to help the actors give their best possible performance. – Stanley Kubrick

Shooting a movie is the worst milieu for creative work ever devised by man. – Stanley Kubrick

I haven’t had one sexual thought since the court martial. – Stanley Kubrick

My period as a young teenager when you really listen to music so you can get understand a little bit more about what the music is was, say, 1965 to 1968. I was just lucky to be in those times. – Stanley Kubrick

I’m happy – at times – making films. I’m certainly unhappy not making films. – Stanley Kubrick

The reality of the final moment, just before shooting [the scene], is so powerful that all previous analysis must yield before the impressions you receive under these circumstances, and unless you use this feedback to your positive advantage, unless you adjust to it, adapt to it and accept the sometimes terrifying weaknesses it can expose, you can never realize the most out of your film. – Stanley Kubrick

Sanitised violence in movies has been accepted for years. What seems to upset everybody now is the showing of the consequences of violence. – Stanley Kubrick

When I made my first film, I think the thing was probably helped me the most was that it was such an unusual thing to do in the early 50s for someone who actually go and make a film. People thought it was impossible. It really is terribly easy. All anybody needs is a camera, a tape recorder, and some imagination. – Stanley Kubrick

One does not have to make Frank Capra movies to like people. – Stanley Kubrick

In his essay on the uncanny, Das Unheimliche, Freud said that the uncanny is the only feeling which is more powerfully experienced in art than in life. If the horror genre required any justification, I should think this alone would serve as its credentials. – Stanley Kubrick

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