A 1975 Letter Reveals Stanley Kubrick's Advice To Theaters Showing Barry Lyndon

It's no secret that director Stanley Kubrick was meticulous and precise in his work. But the level of care he put into his pictures was staggering and, on occasion, quite charming.

Take, for instance, this letter he sent to theater projectionists screening Barry Lyndon in 1975. While offering precise details about how to present the film, down to acceptable aspect ratios and candlepower tolerances, the actually wording of the letter sounds more like a concerned parent than a demanding perfectionist.

skbarrylyndonAccording to the late director's Facebook page, the letter was quite unusual, but well-received among projectionists working at the time. Nowadays, projections is computerized, and networked in some places, so this level of precision can now be programed in. But it is unclear how many filmmakers would go to this length to ensure their work was presented to their specifications.

But Kubrick was known to use his exacting eye into the release of his films. After early roadshow screenings of 2001: a space odyssey, he cut seventeen minutes from the film. He was also deeply involved in producing marketing materials for A Clockwork Orange and was known to offer notes on how to present his films in newspaper ads. Prior to his death in 1999, he left instructions on how to present his films on DVD, down to the plain white box art and the use of the 1:1.66 aspect ratio on most of his films.

And as I've mentioned before, Barry Lyndon is a film of exacting detail and extraordinary beauty. It's also a slow burn, but quite rewarding to those who can find the patience for it.