Long-lost Stanley Kubrick Script Found, Revealing Filmmaker's Jewish Roots

Screenplay discovered by Prof. Nathan Abrams shows how, like in 'Eyes Wide Shut,' Kubrick stripped stories from their Jewishness to adapt them to all-American settings

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Film director Stanley Kubrick, seen in this undated picture during production of "The Shining"
Film director Stanley Kubrick, seen in this undated picture during production of "The Shining"Credit: AP Photo
Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman

A "lost" screenplay by American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has been discovered. "Burning Secret," from October 24, 1956, is an adaptation of a 1913 novella by the same name written by Austrian Jewish writer Stefan Zweig.

Professor Nathan Abrams from Bangor University in Wales, an expert on the famous filmmaker's oeuvre, found discovered the script while doing research for his upcoming book.

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Stefan Zweig's novella on which the screenplay is based is told from the perspective of a 12-year-old Jewish boy. The story takes place in an Austrian resort town, where a mysterious baron befriends the boy in order to seduce his married mother.

In the adaptation by Kubrick, together with Calder Willingham, the venue was changed to an American hotel and the baron became an insurance salesman. In the end the project wasn't produced, because MGM decided to cancel it.

"From what I have seen, the screenplay looks authentic. It bears the stamp of the Script Department of MGM," Abrams added.

In a conversation with Haaretz on Sunday, Abrams talked about his work, which focuses on deciphering Kubrick's Jewish angle.

"This is part of understanding Stanley Kubrick’s Jewishness," Abrams explained. In the resurfaced screenplay, Kubrick "took an openly Jewish author, Stephan Zweig, who wrote about a young boy and his mother who are both explicitly Jewish characters, but he took the Jewishness out of it and translated them into ordinary Americans."

To Abrams, whose upcoming book focuses on Kubrick's final film "Eyes Wide Shut," which was also based on an Austrian Jewish author's novella, the screenplay that he found is a prototype for the final movie. Abrams argues that in both screenplays, Kubrick erased the Jewish characteristics and took the Jewishness out of the story to turn it into an all-American one. 

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