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Fear & Desire

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Frank Silvera, Paul Mazursky, Kenneth Harp
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • Release Date: Oct. 23 2012
  • Run Time: 62 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B007K8ILTW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,080 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

A fictitious 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.

Special Features

"The Seafarers", A short subject film, restored and remastered in HD (for the first time) by the The Museum of Modern Art & The Film Foundation.

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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I wouldn't be writing this if I wasn't a huge Kubrick fan so let's get that out of the way. I read somewhere that later in life he was embarrassed by this film and hoped it would never be resurrected. His next three efforts, the film noirs "Killer's Kiss" and "The Killing" and the more fully realized war film, the classic "Paths of Glory" are each in their own way excellent films well worth searching out. Others have written that some of the themes in "Glory" have their roots in this film ... I'm not so sure. Think of this film, considered his first feature (although only 60 minutes viewing time) as an important early step in his development as a film maker. He was already an accomplished still photographer and this film marks his first foray into "motion" pictures. IMO, the stunning B&W photography is the only redeeming element of the film. The plot has been described as being deeply "existential" ... that may be, but I personally prefer something more engaging. Made only seven years after WWII which to some degree no doubt explains the somber, introspective mood of the film. I did not connect emotionally with any of the characters, did not like either the musical score or (especially) the rather morose voice-over. In summary, for even the most ardent Kubrick fans, this is not required viewing. My advice, skip this one and dig out your copy of "Dr. Strangelove" or "A Clockwork Orange" or "The Shining" or ...
well, you get the idea. The man produced brilliant films ... this is not one of them.
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Format: Blu-ray
Made in 1954 this was Stanley Kubrick's first film and shortly afterwards he tried to disown it and not deciding not to re-release the print. However, it was processed by Kodak and they had a policy of making a spare copy for their archives and this is the version we see today. It is set during a fictitious war with fictitious armies and no explanation as to why they are at war.

Four soldiers are lost behind enemy lines and have to get back to their side. On the way they encounter the locals, the enemies air base and have to face up to a few demons of their own ' not always successfully.

Now some have panned this film, whilst fans still rave about its authenticity etc. The main characters wear German WW II helmets with camouflage on them and are American ' the enemy also speak English and are white American looking. The acting is very one dimensional with no one writing an Oscar acceptance speech. The concepts of fear and desire are examined but in a way that is far from in depth, but it still is watchable but is not a film I will be recommending to friends unless they are a massive Kubrick fan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa52e357c) out of 5 stars 31 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5049114) out of 5 stars The legendary filmmaker's first feature film that provides an insightful look at a young Kubrick at work! Dec 1 2012
By [KNDY] Dennis A. Amith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Stanley Kubrick, one of America's legendary filmmakers responsible for films such as "Paths of Glory" (1957), "Spartacus" (1960), "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964), "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), "A Clockwork Orange" (1971), "The Shining" (1980), "Full Metal Jacket" (1987), to name a few.

But all filmmakers have their beginnings and for Stanley Kubrick, his first feature film would be the 1953 film "Fear and Desire".

Having created two documentaries ("Day of the Fight", "Flying Padre: An RKO-Pathe Screenliner") in 1951 and employed at "LOOK" Magazine, Kubrick quite his job to create his first feature film.

Using funds that were raised by his family and friends, Kubrick and a classmate from his old high school, Howard Sackler, would go on to create "Fear and Desire".

While not a box office hit, the film captured the attention of film critics, who took notice of Kubrick's talent.

But among the Kubrick films available, "Fear and Desire" has only been screened at very few places since it's release. One of those screenings were at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. back in 1993. The film also has not been released commercially and even was downplayed by Kubrick, when he was alive, calling the film a "bumbling amateur film exercise".

But in 2010, Turner Classic Movies aired a restored print courtesy of the George Eastman House and now, Kino Lorber will be releasing the film on Blu-ray and DVD in October 2012. The version of "Fear and Desire" presented was mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements newly restored by the Library of Congress.

The Blu-ray and DVD release will also include "The Seafarers, a short film created in 1953, a film which Kubrick took on in behalf of the Seafarers International Union in order to raise money for his next film "Killer's Kiss" (1954).

"Fear and Desire" revolves around four soldiers who have crash landed in enemy territory.

Lt. Corby (portrayed by Kenneth Harp), Sgt. Mac (portrayed by Frank Silvera), Pvt. Fletcher (portrayed by Stephen Coit) and Pvt. Sidney (portrayed by Paul Mazursky) are six miles away from where they should be and know they must cross a river in order to survive.

So, the four led by Lt. Corby, must evade enemy forces and create a raft and during nighttime, try to escape.

But while building the raft, they are afraid they may have been spotted by a plane flying above them, so the four leave the raft and try to see what is out there in the surrounding area.

The group spots a cabin where two enemy soldiers are eating. Seeing their weapons and food, the four knows they must take the soldiers out and so, they devise a plan and are able to kill the two soldiers including one enemy soldier returning to the cabin.

But Pvt. Sidney begins to crack after he sees the dead mean staring at him.

As the four begin to work on their raft and see what is ahead of them near the river, a woman is seen catching fish with other women in the river. While going home, she hears a noise (made by the soldiers hiding behind a bush). The soldiers take her, bind her and try to interrogate her, but she does not speak any English. So, the three continue their reconnaissance and leave the unstable Pvt. Sidney to watch over her.

But with Pvt. Sidney's mind becoming more unstable, can the soldiers trust him to watch the woman?


"Fear and Desire" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1, black and white) and features the rare George Eastman House print that is mastered in HD from archival 35 mm elements newly restored by the Library of Congress. For the most part, picture quality for this film is very good considering its age. I detected no film warping, excessive blurring or a lot of scratches. There are nicks and dust that can be seen but by no means, does it prevent you from enjoying the film. Whites and grays were well-contrast, black levels were inky and dark. Overall, picture quality of "Fear and Desire" on Blu-ray is not pristine but the film looks great!

As for "The Seafarers", the film is presented in color but definitely looks its age. While in HD, it does have that feeling of early '50s documentary shorts.


"Fear and Desire" is presented in monaural LPCM 2.0. I detected no major hissing or pops during my viewing of "Fear and Desire". Audio was clear and dialogue can be heard clearly with no problems whatsoever. It's important to remember that this low-budget film was shot without sound and dialogue and effects were added during post production.

There are no subtitles included on this Blu-ray release.


"Fear and Desire" comes with Kubrick's 1953 short "The Seafarers" which was preserved by the Museum of Modern Art. The Seafarers is a industrial documentary promoting the Seafarers International Union.


"Fear and Desire", the first film by Stanley Kubrick that he never wanted people to see.

Who can blame Kubrick? Having a remarkable list of films in his oeuvre, his first film was seen by him as amateurish and low-budget. And as a filmmaker, one can easily criticize their earliest work and would rather have people remember the popular films that he's known for, not his first film that he created at 24.

But for cinema fans, "Fear and Desire" is fascinating American cinema for the fact that it shows that Stanley Kubrick was a filmmaker and writer that was ahead of his time.

"Fear and Desire" is cleverly written to poke at America's continuing involvement in war. And while "Fear and Desire" is not about the United States but people of an unknown country, Kubrick tries to relate one's feeling towards war, the futility of the actions of government and like its title, our soldiers that are sent to fight in a war instead of live for their families, are in fear of their lives being taken and their desire to survive another day.

For Kubrick's first film, the use of cinematography and clever editing worked to the film's efficacy. From the facial expressions and the eyes of the soldiers, the sight of a dead person as he grasps the food to show signs of life until no movement can be seen. Also, closeups showcasing the sight of death or insanity for a character to wide angle shots showcasing the river and the wilderness. Kubrick's cinematography was amazing to see at his young age and once again, showing how he was ahead of his time.

Also, intriguing was the use of two characters playing the enemy. Actors Kenneth Harp who plays Lt. Corby also plays the enemy general and Stephen Coit plays Pvt. Fletcher and the enemy captain.

Kubrick utilizes each character effectively. From the young woman (portrayed by Virginia Leith) with fear on her face as the unstable Pvt. Sidney starts to go insane and rubs his face all over her. While a seen between Kenneth Harp's two characters who encounter each other is quite a memorable sight.

For the most part, Stanely Kubrick was able to craft an intelligent film that pokes on society during that era on war. Something he focuses a lot decades later in his film "Full Metal Jacket".

As for the Blu-ray release of "Fear and Desire", the fact that many people were exposed to bootlegs, because the film was never released should be happy that the 35 mm elements was restored and that Kubrick fans finally get their wish for an official video release. Not only is the film restored but the film looks great on Blu-ray!

As for the inclusion of "The Seafarers", it's more of an industrial documentary promoting the Seafarers International Union but for Kubrick fans, the short gives people a chance to see how a young Kubrick was able to pay the bill sand eventually finance his next film, and that was taking on these type of jobs to earn money.

So, you get the 1953 film and his short made that same year in this one Blu-ray release! Just to get this rare gem, restored and presented on Blu-ray is fantastic!

Overall, while Stanley Kubrick has many films in his oeuvre that will be forever known and loved by cinema fans, "Fear and Desire" is the legendary filmmaker's first feature film that provides an insightful look at a young Kubrick at work and how his work was ahead for its time. Highly recommended!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5049168) out of 5 stars Incredible restoration Oct. 23 2012
By B. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Finally the long forgotten first film by the legendary director Stanley Kubrick has been released on a home video format for the first time and it is truly a sight to behold.
There was believe it or not a time when Stanley Kubrick wasn't one of the biggest names in film history, Yes, that's right, Stanley Kubrick, a man who's Career in the industry has no equal started out as a nobody who had to raise funds from family and friends to start production on what would be his first full motion picture, and like most directorial debuts, it was a box office failure, even after having been given high praise by some notable critics at the time, audiences just didn't care for it.
It's been said many times that Kubrick was before his time, and the same can be said about this film. At a mere 60 minute's, it is by far Kubrick's shortest movie, and lest polished, but contained in it's short run time are the ideas that gave birth to the style of film making that Kubrick continued to used and hone throughout the remainder of his career.
My personal thought's about the film the first time i watched it(this was many years ago) were that of the audiences, i didn't see anything of the man that Hollywood considered one of it's best. Now Many years latter and after several reviewing's i've realized that i was so so wrong. It's easily understandable for a person to say that a older low budget film like this sucks when they've seen films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, you have to look at this film a little more deeply to see the true skill of it's creator at work.
Throughout the rest of his life Kubrick shunned this film, was embarrassed by it, he even tried buying up as many original film prints as he could find, with the plan of preventing it from ever being seen again. Thankfully he didn't get them all, and now it has been beautifully restored in high definition and released for the world to enjoy and to see first hand how one of the greatest directors of all time got his start. If you are a Stanley Kubrick fan then you must own this film, cherish it, and be happy it still exists.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5049444) out of 5 stars FEAR & DESIRE ON BLU-RAY Nov. 18 2012
By Joe R. Frinzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I just watched the Blu-ray of Kubrick’s first feature Fear and Desire. It’s taken me 40 years to finally see this movie (which Kubrick himself had suppressed) and I have to say it was an interesting experience. It certainly has its flaws, but it is still a fascinating piece of work and definitely ranks as a Kubrick film. Believe it or not, it’s kind of a mash up of The Thin Red Line and a Twilight Zone episode! Much of the dialogue (which was looped) is stilted and the dramatic structure is clumsy, but as a first time effort from a 24-year old, it is quite ballsy. The cinematography is stunning, which is really Kubrick’s strength here. The characters are ciphers for the most part, and the acting is a mixed bag. Frank Silvera (who would later play the villainous gangster boss in Kubrick’s next film, Killer’s Kiss) does the best work, while Paul Mazursky is the weakest playing a nutjob. Kubrick certainly got better with actors and scriptwriting (a mere ten years later he was doing Lolita and Dr. Strangelove!), but this first film is very much a flawed gem. Perhaps strangest of all is that the film has a couple of optical wipes, which I believe are unique to the Kubrick canon. I’m guessing he had to use these to get out of an editing jam. There are no extras to speak of (a pity), unless you count the inclusion of The Seafarers. Too bad they didn’t get Mazursky to do a commentary! Curiously, his character recites material from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which the actor-turned-director went on to make as a film himself 30 years later. Not sure what to make of that! All in all, a satisfying experience. I wasn’t disappointed.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa504933c) out of 5 stars Lackluster anti-war drama for Kubrick fans only Jan. 28 2013
By Lightning Surfer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Director Stanley Kubrick's first film was made available for purchase late 2012. Finally Kubrick fans, like me, were able to view the debut of a cinematic legend. There are some items worthy of praise here namely the cinematography and the inventive editing. The story itself follows a group of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines trying to march back undetected to friendly territory. Unfortunately, the lack of character depth sinks the movie. All the characters feel like thin cut-outs rather than living breathing men. It doesn't help that the audio overdubs are poorly done and just scream low-budget production. Be warned this war drama doesn't offer much for anyone outside of Kubrick devotees. All in all, "Fear And Desire" shows promise from a visual standpoint, but is lacking in every other department.

For blu-ray fans, this release is pretty much bare-bones with the exception of an early Kubrick documentary short called "The Seafarers" (1953). The audio and video are of good quality on this disc from KINO Classics. That said, this blu-ray is really for the most devoted Kubrick fans.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa504954c) out of 5 stars Fear and Desire: The Debut of a Master Oct. 31 2012
By Anthony L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
A little-known, rarely seen, low budget, Military Adventure film.
Short, crudely edited, and with a crew of only 15 people, Fear and Desire is Stanley Kubrick getting to grips with his style. He later tried to prevent it from being screened, since he had little love for his debut.
Fear and Desire is not extraordinary. Only a true Kubrick fan would love it.

It's Kubrick, warming up for his greatness to come.

P.S. I hope you enjoyed this short review, and read my other Kubrick reviews. Thanks!

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