On March 7, 1999, Stanley Kubrick died in his home in England, at the age of 70.
Kubrick left an indelible mark on the film industry, and yet, among the general population, who has greatly benefited from the fruits of his labor, his death went unnoticed, overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio's, only one day later.
And if you think you haven't seen any of Kubrick's films, or just a few popuplar ones, you have. At least their influences. If you've ever seen "The Simpsons," you've seen every one of these films.
Remember the time Homer rides the missile, bombing the hippies? That's Dr. Strangelove.
Remember Homer in space, when he flies around in the shuttle cabin eating potato chips? It's right out of 2001.
Remember the episode where Sideshow Bob steals the nuclear weapon at the air show? The actor doing the voice of the general is the drill seargent from Full Metal Jacket and the war room is exactly like the one in Dr. Strangelove.
Every single Halloween episode has made some reference to "The Shining." And in almost every other Simpsons episode, there is some reference to one of Kubrick's other films.
Hell, Bart even dressed up as Alex from A Clockwork Orange one year.
So what? So Matt Groening likes Kubrick? Who cares?
The reason the references in "The Simpsons" are important is that it shows how much Kubrick's work has influenced popular culture and how much Kubrick's ideas have pervaded society.
I have a friend in the military who swears that the characterization of the harsh drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket has become true, as real drill sergeants take their cues from the film. Obviously, this can't hold true everywhere, but it is particularly noteworthy because the comparison has become more of, "which came first, the film, or the real thing?"
Kubrick's works have set standards for films and genres therein that continue to hold strongly today. Without A Clockwork Orange, you don't get films like Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction. The violence Kubrick portrays in A Clockwork Orange set a standard that these later films could only emulate.
Speaking of Pulp Fiction, did you think that Tarantino's decision to present the scenes in non-linear fashion was original? Go see Kubrick's 1956 release, The Killing. After you see it, you'll understand that Tarantino isn't original, he's actually paying homage to Kubrick and other earlier directors.
Without 2001, released in 1968, and the original "Star Trek" television series, you don't get films like Close Encounters, Star Wars and even more recent movies like Event Horizon and Starship Troopers. Kubrick's visual portrayal of space influences all these films.
In each of the subsequent works, you can see ideas that Kubrick first set down in the film still acknowledged as one of the greatest masterpieces in film history.
Visually, Kubrick's attention to detail has never been matched. He was notorious for having single shots filmed 70 or more times, just to get it right.
Imagine telling Jack Nicholson to do it again after 60 takes.