THE GREATEST FILMS NEVER MADE
Stanley Kubrick’s BURNING SECRET, A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, THE ARYAN PAPERS AND NAPOLEON
Really? Him? Directing THAT? Maybe one day…
From evil doughnut men to Cthulhoid horrors, movie history bristles with tantalisingly unrealised projects. After the discovery of a long-lost Stanley Kubrick script, Total Film trawls the vaults to revisit more unmade treasures, and ponder their chances of resurrection.
This year, the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey re-manifested in 70mm 50th anniversary screenings. Meanwhile, director Stanley Kubrick made headlines for another discovery. Co-written with American novelist Calder Willingham in 1956, the script for Burning Secret was found by film scholar Nathan Abrams. Abrams was researching Eyes Wide Shut; just as that film offered a US re-imagining of a novella by an Austrian writer (Arthur Schnitzler), so Secret offered a contemporary American makeover of Stefan Zweig’s 1913 novella.
Bearing slanted echoes of Lolita, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut, the story focuses on a predatory man who befriends a 10-year-old boy at a spa in order to get intimate with the lad’s mum. Abrams suggests the script might have been “too risqué” for studios in 1956, “with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface”. Willingham went on to co-write Paths Of Glory with Kubrick, while Burning Secret joined a list of well-prepared projects the director never managed to make, including historical epic Napoleon, the Holocaust-themed The Aryan Papers, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
CHANCES OF HAPPENING?
If Spielberg could complete A.I., might Burning Secret reignite? “It’s a full script,” says Abrams, encouragingly. Is Christopher Nolan busy?