Plot: Few people would abandon a career with great potential to help someone else realize their dreams, but that is what happened with Leon Vitale after he worked with director Stanley Kubrick on Barry Lyndon. Vitale was a skilled thespian with a bright future, but he was so taken with Kubrick’s vision and mastery of cinema, he knew he wanted to work at Kubrick’s side. So he asked for advice, studied various technical aspects of film, learned numerous skills on the production side, and would indeed become Kubrick’s trusted assistant. Filmworker takes an in depth look at the life and career of Vitale, his incredible dedication to Kubrick, and his life after the death of his beloved mentor.
Entertainment Value: This is a powerful, memorable piece that gives us a glimpse at the unbelievable passion of Leon Vitale, who put aside much of his own career to assist with the vision of master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. I am sure a lot of viewers will be drawn to Filmworker hoping for an inside look at Kubrick’s methods and that is here to an extent, but it is focused on Vitale and his contributions, some of which seem to have had quite an impact on the finished pictures. You are able to get a good idea of what working for Kubrick must have been like, as Vitale details some of his routines and some insight into how his life basically revolved around Kubrick at times. So Kubrick fans will find a lot to soak in with Filmworker, but those interested in film as a whole will reap so much more, I think. This is a candid, in depth peek inside how some of Kubrick’s movies were made, with first hand accounts from the man that was present every step of the way, in Leon Vitale.
This movie is loaded with insightful content, but never feels rushed or crowded, thanks to an intimate, personal approach. Vitale is at the center of the narrative flow, with his own observations, archival materials, and even family & friends to help us see the world through his eyes. I love that Vitale supplies so much first hand information, as he has such a unique perspective and his experiences are priceless, it wouldn’t be the same to hear these stories second or third hand. A number of others who worked closely with Kubrick are also present in interviews and also share their memories of Vitale, so we learn a lot about how his presence not only assisted Kubrick, but had a part in how the movies turned out. The scenes with R. Lee Ermey are especially revealing and really drive home what a crucial role Vitale played in Kubrick’s work, just really eye opening stuff, I think. If you have even a casual interest in Kubrick or the art of cinema in general, Filmworker is a film you need to experience.