Film professor gets the chance to read a shelved Kubrick project.
A university professor got the surprise of a lifetime when he discovered a discarded screenplay written by none other than Stanley Kubrick at least sixty years ago. He had been researching the director's last project when he made the discovery at Kubrick's London archives.
'Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual' by Nathan Abrams
Entitled 'Burning Secret', the script was uncovered by Nathan Abrams of Bangor University; a film professor who has recently been researching a book about Kubrick's last film 'Eyes Wide Shut'. He'd been shown the script by a relative of one of the filmmaker's would-be partners.
'The son of a Kubrick collaborator, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, has shown me a copy', Abrams told the BBC. 'It seemingly checks out. It's most likely that said collaborator was going to work on the film had it been green-lit.'
Alas, 'Burning Secret' was thought to be too controversial for its time, regardless of Abrams' insistence that it was 'fantastic', and thus it never came to fruition.
'What nobody knew was whether they had actually written a script and finished it - and now we know the answer to that question and we have a complete screenplay', he continued.
Stanley Kubrick was a legend who helmed critically-acclaimed adaptations the likes of '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'A Clockwork Orange' and 'The Shining'. Just like his masterpieces, 'Burning Secret' was also an adaptation; from a 1913 novella written by Stefan Zweig.
Kubrick had co-written the screenplay in 1956 with Calder Willingham. The story follows a 10-year-old American boy who is befriended by a captivating Austrian baron; a man who soon breaks the boy's heart by casting him aside to reveal that his intentions all along had been to get close to his mother.
The story did end up being adapted by Andrew Birkin into the 1988 film of the same name starring Faye Dunaway and Klaus Maria Brandauer. But the themes were not considered appropriate for the 50s, and there was also speculation that the project got axed for Kubrick's breach of contract when MGM found that Kubrick was working on the anti-war film 'Paths of Glory'.
It's certainly not unusual for such an influential filmmaker to have missing projects, especially given that it was before the digital age. Alfred Hitchcock was involved in a number of movies in the twenties that subsequently became lost, such as 'The Mountain Eagle', 'Mrs Peabody' and 'The Passionate Adventure'.
Then there are writers like Orson Welles who never got to finish his last movie, 'The Other Side Of The Wind', which just last year was picked up by Netflix with the intention of reshooting it. There's something refreshing about seeing old projects being brought out of the cutting room - or discovered miraculously in their hiding places.