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Stanley Kubrick’s First Movie Hits Streaming Restored to His Original Cut

Stanley Kubrick's First Movie Hits Streaming Restored to His Original Cut


  • Kubrick’s first film,
    Fear and Desire
    , released 70 years ago, is now restored in 4K for streaming.
  • Initial negative reactions led Kubrick to make edits, shifting the film from a philosophical allegory to a conventional war picture.
  • The original 70-minute version of
    Fear and Desire
    was recently rediscovered, showcasing Kubrick’s early genius in an amateur form.

Stanley Kubrick‘s final film was 25 years ago, so if you’re missing his brilliance, now is a good time to go back 70 years and revisit his very first film. The allegorical war film Fear and Desire was quietly released in 1953 and performed poorly; Kubrick cut nearly 10 minutes from the film in a futile attempt to try and make it more popular. According to star Paul Mazursky (who later became a great director in his own right), “Stanley tried to have the negative burned. He hated the movie.” And for a while, Fear and Desire was only available in bootleg additions. But it was restored last year, and is now in 4K on streaming.

Kubrick would go on to make two masterpieces of war cinema (Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket), but it all started with Fear and Desire. In this existential drama — which has the feeling of a waking dream rather than a conventional war film — four soldiers return to their senses after crash-landing in a forest behind enemy lines. Blindly navigating their way back to their unit, they attack an isolated cabin occupied by enemy soldiers, then apprehend a peasant woman (Virginia Leith) who is tormented by the deranged young soldier assigned to guard her (Paul Mazursky). On the verge of freedom, they discover an outpost of enemy officers who look just like them.


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Kubrick on Kino in 4K

“It opened at The Guild Theater in New York, and it was pretty apparent that it was terrible,” said Kubrick in an interview about the film. “While it was still playing, I decided that I better get another script very fast and try to promote some more money just on the fact that the thing was playing.”

A soldier silences a woman in Stanley Kubrick's first movie Fear and Desire from 1953
Kino Lorber

Upon its initial release, Kubrick was stung by negative audience reactions and immediately decided to tone down the philosophical aspects of the film. These edits made the film less of a metaphysical experience and more of a conventional war film. For decades, this 62-minute version was all that existed of Fear and Desire, until the Library of Congress came into possession of a 35mm element of the original 70-minute premiere cut, which has not been seen since its interrupted theatrical run in 1953. Now, we can finally see Fear and Desire as it was first released and witness the blossoming of a 23-year-old cinematic genius.

Fear and Desire can be seen in 4K on Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video, and Vudu, or streamed (or rented or bought) through Kino Now below:

Watch Fear and Desire

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