When Stanley Kubrick photographed a european country planted by the sea, named Portugal

Stanley Kubrick, Self Portrait

Stanley Kubrick became a renowned filmmaker in the course of the 20th century, bringing together successes after successes in the seventh art. However, his appetite for audiovisual did not immediately go to the cinema, unfolding his potential in photography. In fact, one of the characteristics by which the North American became more famous was, precisely, the avant-garde and unique photography of his films.

It all started at the age of 17, in 1939, when he became an employee of the magazine “Look”, founded two years before and in circulation until 1971, being the great rival of “Life” then. Initially, he sought to portray the urban and metropolitan dynamics of New York, adding to his repertoire hundreds of reports and respective histories captured by the lens of his machine.

However, his first photograph would only be printed in 1945, which caused Kubrick to launch himself on this path of unique works, where he sought the spontaneity of what he portrayed. He said that it was there that the validity and expressiveness of photography resided on the aesthetic plane, and that was what he did until the year 1950, when he definitively turned to cinema. It was during this period that, at the age of 20, in a hot August of 1948, Kubrick would travel to Portugal for (more) a photographic report.

The purpose of his trip was to, at the request of his editors, photograph the way Portugal had escaped the apparatus of World War II unscathed. They wanted great tourist attractions to be photographed for those who read the magazine assiduously, albeit in a systematic and naturalistic way, which was part of their editorial line. Kubrick seeks, however, to capture the most profound moments of everyday life in communities, both urban and villagers, both older and younger. Despite the fact that the resources were not evolved, what they allowed to do before the Portuguese scope was acclaimed by the editors of “Look”.

Front page of “Look” magazine and the report by Stanley Kubrick.

This is because the fascination of the future filmmaker was not limited to what his countrymen knew about the country. It was in Nazaré, a village marked by fishing communities, that it unfolded and that sought to collect as many testimonies about its day-to-day. Not only the places, but also the utensils and people, their faces, their faces, their costume (black, in the case of women). Some were taken to international exhibitions, which marked their curriculum at Look, among the twelve thousand negatives that were identified as their authorship; in addition to indirectly inviting other renowned photographers, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson or Edouard Boubat, to make Portugal the target of their objectives.

Thus, Portugal became a reference that Kubrick kept in mind throughout his career, so much so that one of the projects that left pending was a film about the Portuguese presence in the East in the 16th and 17th centuries. His artistic experience opened up his horizons, but it is certain that one of the points of passage of his route was Portugal, immortalized by the photographs that well illustrate and report his identity. A Portugal that, unknown to most of those who read “Look” on the other side of the Atlantic, told the stories that faithfully translated a (perhaps) forgotten and neglected depth.

The Stanley Kubrick photo gallery about Portugal