"Lost" Stanley Kubrick masterpiece set to become TV drama, says producer at DMU event

Stanley Kubrick's long-time producer has revealed at a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) conference that the legendary director's unfinished masterwork, Napoleon, is to be made as a TV series.

In the late sixties and early seventies Kubrick planned and researched an epic biopic of the French Emperor but, at the time of his death in 1999, the movie remained unmade.

Jan Harlan

But during a talk given at Leicester’s Phoenix Cinema as part of the Stanley Kubrick: A Retrospective Conference, organised by DMU in association with Bangor University, Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s brother-in-law and producer of masterpieces like The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999), announced that the long-planned Napoleon film will come to screens – as a six-part miniseries for TV.

Harlan told the audience that the director’s greatest unmade work – which was a lifelong obsession – was set to be made by TV drama giants HBO, directed by Cary Fukunaga (who recently directed crime drama True Detective, Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation and previously a lavish adaptation of Jane Eyre) with a script by David Leland. 


Kubrick had laboured for years collecting masses of documents about Napoleon, writing preliminary screenplays and considering cast and crew for the project. He said, when made, it would be “the best movie ever made”.

But the opportunity never arose and since the director’s death, the legend surrounding the unmade picture has grown.


Harlan said: “Without exaggerating I can say that Kubrick had probably the largest picture archive ever amassed anywhere about the topic of Napoleon.

“Every painting and drawing found in libraries and museums in all European cities, (including Eastern Europe) was photographed and the 35mm slides were mounted in IBM punch-cards for sorting on IBM sorting machines, the state of the art in 1969.

“No attention was given to the artistic value of the painting or drawing, the focus was strictly on information.

“Stanley's main focus was the relevance of Napoleon for us today: absolute power combined with vanity can so easily push good judgement and intelligence aside.”

Professor Ian Hunter, who organised the conference with James Fenwick of the Cinema and Television History (CATH) Research Centre, said: "It was an immense privilege to have Jan at the conference. Kubrick’s fans worldwide are excited by his announcement that “the greatest film never made” will finally reach the screen."

A pop up exhibition, Stanley Kubrick: Cult Auteur, showcasing  artefacts from the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of Arts London is running at DMU’s Heritage Centre till 3 June.  Professor Hunter is giving a free lecture on Kubrick’s cult films in the Heritage Centre on Wednesday, May 18 at 6pm, followed by a guided tour of the exhibition.

Posted on Tuesday 17 May 2016

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