Fear and Desire (1953): Kubrick’s Debut

Kubrick’s first feature film, Fear and Desire, was a low-budget, black-and-white production about a team of soldiers caught behind enemy lines in a fictional war.

Kubrick’s crew consisted of himself and his then wife, Toba Metz, working from a script written by their friend Howard Sackler.

It garnered some respectable reviews but was still a commercial failure. Kubrick was later embarrassed by the film as an amateur effort and tried to keep it out of circulation, calling it a “bumbling, amateur film exercise, a completely inept oddity, boring and pretentious.”

The scholar James Naremore has detected a consisted theme in Kubrick’s oeuvre, beginning with this flawed picture, showing interest in “how rational, militaristic planning spins out of control and becomes irrational.” Kubrick’s later films expressed  variations of of that theme in Paths of Glory (1957), Dr. Strangelove (1964), and Full Metal Jacket (1987).


The film was shown for the first time on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in December 2011.