The 10 Greatest Stanley Kubrick Homages in Pop Culture
Stanley Kubrick is one of the most celebrated directors in film history and even though he has been dead for almost twenty years, his legacy lives on. Echoes of Kubrick can be found spackled throughout film and television history.
Everything from adverts, to films, Saturday Night Live sketches and a plethora of media in between, Kubrick and his work are so iconic that there doesn’t seem to be a director working today who isn’t in some way influenced by him. Science fiction films, especially, are plagued with Kubrickian references and it’s almost inevitable that any sci-fi film made after 1968 will have some kind of reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Even the newly released Alien: Covenant had echoes of Kubrick in its themes surrounding the symbiotic relationship between man and machine, the phallic shape of space ships and the notion of a rebirth on a distant planet. While one of America’s most beloved families, The Simpsons are the most guilty party when it comes to Stanley Kubrick and his work, the below list contains just one of their episodes, and it just so happens to be my number one.
10. Airdropped soldiers in Godzilla
It wasn’t exactly the greatest cinematic comeback for our deep sea beast, but in 2014, Monsters director Gareth Edwards resurrected the infamous Gojira to destroy the Pacific coast of America. While the film itself is arguably pretty terrible, there was a moment in particular which provide some much needed respites amongst the diabolical dialogue and predictable character arcs.
This moment came towards the end of the film, when soldiers are airdropped into the war zone to fight the beasts, they are dropped to Ligeti’s Requiem the same piece of music used in 2001 when Dave Bowman is travelling through the star gate and when the hominids discover the monolith for the first time.
The idea that knew knowledge is being imparted and received to further aid the development of that race which happens at a time soldiers are crossing the threshold from our world into what our world has become with the addition of nuclear sea beasts with a view to destroy what they find is a pretty interesting parallel to make. We forget that the earth is more than just the humans who live on it.
9. 30 Second to Mars go to The Overlook
The famous band released The Kill in 2006, the music video of which was a direct homage to The Shining. The band are walking around a hotel and encounter strange goings on therein. Including a strange woman in the bathroom of room 6277, endless pages of the same phrase written over and over again, a ghostly bartender and a man in a bear costume.
Jared Leto, the bands lead member has said that the music video is about coming face to face with who you really are, confronting the relationship you have with yourself.
The ending of The Shining is pretty ambiguous and fans and scholars alike have mused over the meaning of that final frame but many deduce that Jack is a prisoner of the hotel, forced to live his horrors over and over again. When we look at the picture we see him, even though he is now dead, but the events that have played out where a replay of his own time in the hotel.
8. The Gang to The Overlook
It’s not uncommon for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to reference movies, but in its eleventh season we had a belter in ‘Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs’ where the whole episode gives you the heebie jeebies, much like The Shining does. It’s not just the direct references to the film, it’s the overall uneasy feeling that the episode does so well to emanate.
Our characters Mac and Dennis decide to move to the suburbs and enter into a bet with the rest of the gang that they won’t last a month. Firstly the simple life is bliss, until the hums and bangs that disturb the nights silence start to alter their ability sleep.
Little things such as having Macs famous Mac and Cheese for dinner every night begin to grate on Dennis and he starts to go insane and Mac is taunted by the air conditioning unit which also sends him on a downward spiral. Once Dennis gives us the ‘Kubrick Stare’ we know things have gotten really bad.
7. Tumbling Sandra Bullock
In Alfonso Cuaron’s inventive space thriller Gravity, which was sadly ruined solely by Sandra Bullock’s inane babbling to a man and his dog, saw some brilliant nods to Kubrick’s 2001.
There was a pen floating around in the capsule, several references to birth and life, most notably when Stone adopts the foetal position and the cord attaching her to the ship appears much like an umbilical cord, echoing our star child at the end of 2001. Amongst it all was my favourite and probably most obvious tip of the hat, which was the when Stone becomes detached from the ship and tumbles through space which reminded me of poor old Frank Poole who met his end in a very similar way.
Duncan Jones pays homage so tastefully to Kubrick throughout Moon, his influence is unsurprising considering his father, David Bowie’s own homages (David Bowie > Dave Bowman, Star Man > Star Child and of course Space Oddity > Space Odyssey). However, the creation of GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey draws the most parallels to our own psychotic robot, HAL 9000.
Both have human like names, made out of an acronym for their purpose, both have extremely calm, monotone voices and both are given humanistic qualities. In Moon when Sam asks GERTY for the truth as to whether he is a clone of himself, we are given a very similar non-descript response as HAL gives Dave in 2001 when HAL lies about the true purpose of their mission, thus leading to his demise. GERTY wasn’t homicidal, but he is creepy…the emoji faces help.
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