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It's a rare person who would give up fame and fortune to toil in obscurity for someone else's creative vision. Yet, that's exactly what Leon Vitali did after his acclaimed performance as 'Lord Bullingdon' in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975). The young actor surrendered his thriving career to become Kubrick's loyal right-hand man. For more than two decades, Leon played a crucial role behind-the-scenes helping Kubrick make and maintain his legendary body of work. In Filmworker, Leon's candid, often funny, sometimes shocking experiences in the company of Kubrick are woven together with rich and varied elements including previously unseen photos, videos, letters, notebooks, and memos from Leon's private collection. Insightful, emotionally charged anecdotes from actors, family, crew members, and key film industry professionals who worked with Kubrick and Leon add an important layer of detail and impact to the story. Filmworker enters the world of Leon Vitali and Stanley Kubrick from a...Written by
I thought this film really shone a spotlight on the sad consequences of a career decision made by Leon Vitali and was one of the most severe indictments on Stanley Kubrick as a person.
A few years after appearing as Lord Bullingdon in Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, Vitali abandoned what we are led to believe was a promising acting career to work full-time (and then some) for Kubrick himself.
Whether Vitali did have a promising acting career ahead of him is not really the point, my own feeling is that if his performance in Barry Lyndon is anything to go by then an illustrious career in front of the camera was by no means guaranteed.
The real story here is the level of devotion that Vitali gave to his new career and the price he paid for it; neglecting his family and the detrimental effect the extreme workload had on his health. Vitali looks like a walking corpse and has done for many years.
This problem could have been easily solved if the very wealthy Kubrick had dug a little deeper into his pocket and employed another two or three assistants to share the workload but apparently this never happened. And the fact that Vitali has had to rely on financial support from his children clearly indicates that not only did Kubrick pay him a low salary he also left Vitali very little, if anything, in his will.
Kubrick comes across as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge.
At least Dolores Claiborne was eventually rewarded for going above and beyond the call of duty, Vitali just seems to have been exploited and taken for granted by Kubrick for 20 years.
Kubrick must have had some special kind of charisma to treat Vitali this way and still have him coming back for more. Or maybe Vitali is just downright stupid.
Viewers will decide for themselves.
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