Stanley Kubrick may have made many of the world’s best-known, best-reviewed films, but you probably haven’t seen this little gem- a 12 minute documentary boxing short entitled Day of the Fight.
Like the title implies, it’s a day in the life of middleweight prizefighter Walter Cartier- and what a day. Domestic scenes with his twin brother, Vincent, are stiffly staged and composed in a way that just feels surreal and trippy, but equally fascinating- a window into another time and place.
Kubrick’s directorial hand is already in full effect here, making this less a documentary in the traditional sense, and more a motion picture essay. His imagery is so deliberately manipulated for full emotional effect, that no one could call Kubrick a fly on the wall. This fly clearly had a megaphone and a director’s chair throughout the piece.
Douglas Edwards’ classic, stark narration certainly doesn’t help things either in the “verité” department. He delivers Kubrick’s narration in the same professional TV newscaster voice that made him famous in America- the omniscient voice of God that today sounds retro and cute. Combined with the images, Day of the Fight is a wonderful, short portrait into a subject that would consume Kubrick for his entire career: the dichotomy between mankind’s powerful mind and his own animal self. 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket… they all share this cold, stark dissection of our true selves, making Day of the Fight a fascinating sneak preview of Cinema’s greatest auteur.
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