Even in an era where it seems like virtually every movie is available for purchase, rent or download, repertory houses offer cinephiles a unique opportunity not only to see films that are generally unavailable, but to watch them on the big screen in the way they were meant to be seen. Los Angeles' Egyptian Theatre, which has been around since 1922 and has operated under the auspices of the American Cinematheque for almost three decades, will be offering a holy grail of film history Sunday night at 7:30 PM with a rare – if not seemingly impossible – screening of 'Fear and Desire',Stanley Kubrick's first (and most obscure) feature.
After shooting 'The Flying Padre' and 'Day of the Fight', two short films, Kubrick wrote and directed 'Fear and Desire', about a group of WWII soldiers stranded behind enemy lines. Following its release, Kubrick was so unhappy with the film that he withdrew it from circulation, and subsequently forbade it from being distributed on VHS or DVD. Until now, fans of the filmmaker have had to pursue bootleg copies, or simply go without seeing this obscure gem from his filmography. And whether or not, as reported, there is only one known print in the United States, the opportunity to see the film in theaters via a 35mm print is simply too irresistible to resist.
The screening of 'Fear and Desire' will be accompanied with a reel of three classic short films: Georges Melies' 'Les Fromages Automobiles', Gaston Melies 'A Western Girl', and 'Early 28mm Animation'. Additionally, the screening will be followed by a discussion with actor-writer-director Paul Mazursky, who co-starred in 'Fear and Desire'. General admission tickets are only $11.00, although the theater offers discounts for seniors, students, and KCRW members. For more information, check out the official American Cinematheque website, where you can see what other great films and screening series the programmers have coordinated in upcoming weeks.
(And unfortunately, if you can't make it to the Egyptian Theatre Sunday, or don't live in the Los Angeles area, there aren't a whole lot of alternative options, again, given the fact that there appears to be only one existing print, and the Kubrick estate maintains strict control over its exhibition. But while we don't endorse illegal downloading of copyrighted material, a search engine scan of the film's title produces a variety of streaming options for watching the film on your computer – and who knows? If the film is popular enough here in Los Angeles, there's always a possibility that it will get screened elsewhere in the country in the upcoming weeks and months.)