Kubrick’s, “The Day Of The Fight” Tells Us A Lot About His (And Everyone’s) Journey As A Filmmaker

by Bret Hoy1 Comment

Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest filmmakers and artists of the 20th century. Why do I say this? Not only do his films still resonate with relevance in our current times, but the themes and photography transcend the times in which they were born. Kubrick was a filmmaker so far ahead of his time that to this day, we’re still playing catch up. The level to which he rose in the 60’sand 70’s isn’t the way he always was though.

Kubrick’s first short film, “The Day of The Fight” reflects not just the concepts that drove his films in his later years. It reflects the ethics that drove Kubrick to be one of the best in his industry. Many times in the short film, when the narrator is referring to the protagonist, those same thoughts can surely be extrapolated to Kubrick's famous work ethic.

The film, which was created in 1951 echoes the styles of the times, but in a way that feels rather modern. The cutaways and the way that tension is built through editing is done with a deft hand, but also one that has a lot to learn. At 22, how could you expect more? Even Kubrick started somewhere, which is what I feel is so exciting about what Kubrick created in, “The Day Of The Fight.”

When he was shooting the film, I highly doubt he knew what his career was going to look like. He didn’t know the exact direction he was heading, but he did know the stories that he liked to tell, and the ways he liked to tell them. It goes to show that if you stick to your instincts and to what you know, you can’t tell what it’ll develop into.

If you’re an artist, you’ll grow into something that you can’t quite imagine right now. The Day Of The Fight displays this in ways that we don’t get to see very often. Check it out, then compare with Kubrick’s more well-known work. Exciting juxtapositions can be made.

Watch Stanley Kubrick's First Short Film ‘Day of the Fight'

Via No Film School:

It's always instructive to see the early works of a director, and when that director is Stanley Kubrick, it's practically required viewing for all students of cinema.

His first short, the 12-minute documentary Day of the Fight, made in 1951when the director was just 22, is notable for many reasons, not the least of them its foreshadowing of themes that would appear in his later work. Watch all 12 1/2 minutes of it below:

Day Of The Fight – 1951

He had already produced a photographic essay two years earlier on the prizefighter, Walter Cartier, for Look, a popular photo magazine of its day (n.b,, a magazine is a kind of paper blog), and returned to the fighter when he decided to make his first short subject. Kubrick was famous throughout his career for his exacting control of every aspect of production, including (of course) final cut, but at the age of 22, and looking to sell the documentary, he capitulated to the demands of RKO and producer Jay Bonafeld, who insisted on the addition of 4 minutes of mostly stock footage, though the tyro director was allowed to edit the footage himself.

Kubrick Day of the Fight

The extant version above consists solely of Kubrick's original 12 minutes, and is fascinating for its foreshadowing of many of the themes that would come to dominate his later work, most notably that of doubling. Cartier had a twin brother, lending an uncanny effect to the film; even this early in his career, Kubrick sought to make more than a typical short subject to be shown before a feature film. This no doubt is part of what set him apart and led to the film's acquisition.

Read full article at No Film School “Watch Stanley Kubrick's First Short Film ‘Day of the Fight'”

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(cover photo credit: snap from No Film School)


  1. As a photojournalist, Kubrick was a master of static framing, in which the camera stayed put.
    I remember seeing one of his films on TV, that I had not seen before, and knowing — after just two seconds — that it was a Kubrick film, based solely on the lighting and framing.

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