Fear and Desire (1953)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller, War  |  1 April 1953 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.7/10 from 4,633 users  
Reviews: 42 user | 56 critic

Four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines must confront their fears and desires.



0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Killer's Kiss (1955)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

As a man waits at a train station for his girl, he tells us about the recent past and we segue into a long flash-back.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Frank Silvera, Irene Kane, Jamie Smith
The Seafarers (1953)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Stanley Kubrick's first film made in color, lost for over forty years. The documentary extols the benefits of membership to the Seafarers International Union.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Don Hollenbeck, Paul Hall
Documentary | Short | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Based on Kubrick's pictorial for Look Magazine (January 18, 1949) entitled "Prizefighter," "Day Of The Fight" tells of a day in the life of a middleweight Irish boxer named Walter Cartier, ... See full summary »

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Douglas Edwards, Nat Fleischer, Walter Cartier
The Killing (1956)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Crooks plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
Lolita (1962)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A middle-aged college professor becomes infatuated with a fourteen-year-old nymphet.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon
Spartacus (1960)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's aristocratic position in 18th-century England.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
Flying Padre (1951)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Two days in the life of priest Father Fred Stadtmuller whose New Mexico parish is so large he can only spread goodness and light among his flock with the aid of a mono-plane. The priestly ... See full summary »

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Fred Stadmueller, Bob Hite, Pedro


Cast overview:
Sgt. Mac
Kenneth Harp ...
Lt. Corby / The General
Pvt. Sidney
Stephen Coit ...
Pvt. Fletcher / The Captain (as Steve Coit)
Virginia Leith ...
The Girl
David Allen ...
Narrator (voice)


A ficticious war in an unidentified country provides the setting for this drama. Four soldiers survive the crash-landing of their plane to find themselves in a forest six miles behind enemy lines. The group, led by Lt. Corby, has a plan: They'll make their way to a nearby river, build a raft, and then, under cover of night, float back to friendly territory. Their plans for getting back safely are sidetracked by a young woman who stumbles across them as they hide in the woods, and by the nearby presence of an enemy general who one member of the group is determined to kill. Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Trapped... 4 Desperate Men and a Strange Half-Animal Girl!


Drama | Thriller | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 April 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shape of Fear  »

Box Office


$33,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Stanley Kubrick disowned the film soon after it's release and wanted to make sure it was never seen again by not re-releasing the print. What he didn't know was that Kodak when making the print had a policy of making an extra print for their archives. It is this one that survives and where the DVD-R and VHS bootleg prints come from. See more »


Narrator: There is war in this forest. Not a war that has been fought, or one that will be, but any war. And the enemies who struggle here do not exist, unless we call them into being. This forest, then, and all that happens now is outside history. Only the unchanging shapes of fear - and doubt - and death - are from our world. These soldiers that you see keep our language and our time, but have no other country but the mind.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Even Genius Falters in Youth...
3 July 1999 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

Let me preface this review with one simple statement: Stanley Kubrick is god. I'm a rabid fan, the man could do no wrong, and his death was the greatest loss that film has ever known -- every other director moved up a notch when Stanley went, because Mr. Kubrick was, is and always will be number one...

That said -- it was actually heartening to see "Fear and Desire" and to realize that the film pretty much sucks. In other words, even genius has to be born somewhere, and in his first feature, Mr. Kubrick just didn't have it yet. Pretty much a still "Life" photog at the time, "Fear and Desire" comes across as a pretentious student film, albeit a well shot one. However, this is in the days before Kubrick developed his own style, and so anything eye-catching in this movie is by way of Sergei Eisenstein. At times, the influence is painfully obvious, as in a sequence in which our lead soldiers make a raid on a house held by the enemies -- it might as well be a re-take of "Potemkin," sans the steppes and the lady with the busted glasses. But, the jump cuts, the creation of scene through editing, the visual ellipses is entirely Eisenstein and none at all Kubrick, and the effect is jarring.

Not that there aren't points to recommend in the film. Oddly enough, a very young Paul Mazursky turns in a wonderful performance as a soldier who cracks under the stress of it all, and Kubrick stages what's basically a rape scene under the constraints of 50s censorship, while infusing it with so much eroticism that it's rather uncomfortable. (Side note to Adam Sandler: if you ever chose to go into drama, study Mazursky's role in this film -- it's everything you could be if you give up the "dumb but pure" roles of "Wedding Singer" and "The Water Boy.")

Pluses in the film are that it deals with the subject of war without ever identifying sides -- there's a vague Prussian-ness about the villains, but if you look closely, none of the soldiers are identified by country. Kubrick also pulls off some interesting double casting in which the leads play the "villains," but are not obviously the same people. On the down side, the film opens and closes with possibly the most pretentious voice over narration ever committed to celluloid. There's a BIG IDEA working here, but given that Kubrick was only 24 when he made the film, it's understandable that the Ooh-Aah idea wasn't really as big as he thought it was. (Then, again, making an anti-war movie during the Korean war was probably about as egregious as one could get. I wouldn't know, I wasn't alive in 1953.)

All of this said -- for film students and Kubrick fans, this film is a must-see if you can track it down -- and good luck trying, since Mr. Kubrick wisely killed all availability of the movie. In a lot of ways, it's actually a very encouraging experience to see a genius like Mr. Kubrick churn out absolute crap -- brilliant moments that add up to nothing. Given his career since this film, it just shows that everyone has to start somewhere, and even the (arguably) greatest director in the history of cinema was once just a young schmuck with a camera, film and some actors.

37 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I Own a Copy Anyone want it? Makenshi
Cinematheque Cleavland Cant WAIT!!!!!!!! August 4th crowdravin
It has been leaked arcanjo
I traveled to the Kodak Archives in Rochester to see this film itstheit
Startling and Surprising for 1953 JonBruno
Discuss Fear and Desire (1953) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: