Big Screen Legends Kubrick and Tarkovsky Shared A Unique Visual Style

by Bret Hoy1 Comment

Being two of the greatest visual directors of all time, it’s easy to imagine that people would compare Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky’s style. But when you really start digging in, you realize that there are some striking similarities between the two men's aesthetic. The competition between the two legendary directors still lives in the conversations of cinephiles to this day.

So what makes their styles so similar? It has to do with not just the angles, lenses and light used. It has to do with the pace at which their camera moves, the edits and the direction of the actors.

While it would be easy to just do a montage showing the extremely powerful cinematography demonstrated in both directors’ films, Vugar Efendi didn’t just do that. He edited together a video that shows the nearly identical feel and tone that both directors reached for and accomplished.

Going beyond what these directors accomplished on screen, it’s just as exciting to see modern directors harkening back to this style. “The Witch,” “12 Years A Slave,” “Ex Machina” and “There Will Be Blood” are all modern films, but it’s hard to watch this video without feeling the looming presence of Tarkovsky and Kubrick.

It’s clear, Kubrick and Tarkovsky’s competition gave equally to the audience, as they did to each generation of filmmakers succeeding them.


Via Vimeo:

Unlike previously, focusing on one filmmaker, I wanted to look at the two most influential and most respected artists in the world of cinema: Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky. Both of them have defined and pioneered the cinematic language, and propelled cinema forward as an art form.

This short comparison highlights their own unique cinematic style, in which to some extent, they share the same philosophical and thematic undertones in their filmography.

The films included are:
Stanley Kubrick- Path of Glory (1957)
– Spartacus (1960)
– Lolita (1962)
– Dr. Strangelove (1964)
– 2001: A space odyssey (1968)
– A Clockwork Orange (1971)
– Barry Lyndon (1975)
– The Shining (1980)
– Full Metal Jacket (1987)
– Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Andrei Tarkovsky -Ivan's Childhood (1962)
– Andrei Rublev (1966)
– Solaris (1972)
– The Mirror (1975)
– Stalker (1979)
– Nostalghia (1983)
– The Sacrifice (1986)

Music: Max Richter- On the nature of daylight

(cover photo credit: snap from video)


  1. Inane twaddle.

    Efendi has simply paired similar scenes. This proves nothing about similarities (or differences) in Kubrick’s and Tarkovsky’s styles.

    Kubrick was a journalist photographer (for Look) before he became a movie maker. Not surprisingly, THE distinguishing feature of his cinematography is his tendency to pick a distinctive framing and HOLD IT, without moving the camera. *

    A few years back, as I was flipping channels, I stopped at a static scene showing the interior of a men’s restroom. In less than a second, I knew — KNEW — by the lighting and composition that it had to be Kubrick. Before another second passed, I deduced it was from “The Shining”, which I had not seen.


    Just because two cars are red, doesn’t mean their engineering is the same.

    * Billy Wilder also tended to keep the camera still, but for reasons different than Kubrick’s. There is no similarity in their styles.

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