5.5/10
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Fear and Desire (1953)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller, War | 1 April 1953 (USA)
Four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines must confront their fears and desires.

Director:

Stanley Kubrick

Writer:

Howard Sackler
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

1 April 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shape of Fear See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$33,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kubrick Family See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was considered lost or buried for many years until it resurfaced at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival. Stanley Kubrick was opposed to this and a subsequent release as he felt it was a "bumbling amateur film exercise". See more »

Goofs

The shots of the dead girl show her either with her face three-quarter turned to the ground (close shot) or with her face looking straight out to the side (long shot). This may be deliberate due to the surreal nature of the scene, namely the mental state of her killer. See more »

Quotes

Enemy General: Sometimes, as I look at these maps, I wonder if my own grave isn't being planned. Here... or here... or here.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Blu-ray Disc releases in America also include The Seafarers, a short film from Kubrick, as a bonus feature. The European Masters of Cinema release also includes two additional shorts, Day of the Fight and Flying Padre. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Strong potential
31 March 2012 | by KubrisSee all my reviews

I'm seeing every Stanley Kubrick feature film in order, and began with his most disliked 'Fear and Desire'. I've heard some awful things about it, but considering the very limited resources to make it, a viewer can easily notice the unlimited potential of the man behind the camera. Fear and Desire has genius that can't be tapped with the restraints had.

It's a war film- with no names. Just soldiers behind enemy lines, wanting to get back and the problems they encounter. There's a certain Shakespearean quality about it- the characters give short monologues about their feelings and morals that aren't grounded in reality. There are some good lines, and some absolutely terrible ones, and some that seem too philosophical for their own good. These lines are delivered by actors pushing melodrama: Sidney goes nuts, but unreasonably. Then there's the technical faults: it's a mess, with some sloppy editing. Again though, there were budget constraints that any full-fledged director could work around.

Kubrick made a thinking film, but it has some poorly communicated ideas. Is this idea that war pushes men past their extremes? There isn't anything horrifying about what the men go through. It seems that while he could later create some of the best war films ever, they are very difficult to make as a first picture/ They just need more money to make. Seeing this reminds me of a much later debut, Reservoir Dogs. Both share similarities of a few characters in isolation, and auteurs behind the camera.

A strong aspect of Fear and Desire is its music, which helps some of the more tense scenes. The plot is good and doesn't linger- the film is around an hour long. It's not as bad as I heard, and lays the groundwork for later Kubrickisms: war and thematic material. Filled with potential. 6.5/10


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