Stanley Kubrick

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Kubrick, from the trailer for Dr. Strangelove
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What THEY don't want
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Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) was an American film director, writer, producer and photographer, who directed famous and lauded films such as Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and others. Widely regarded as one of the most innovative directors of all time, he has influenced a multitude of other filmmakers.

Kubrick has been the subject of two loosely related conspiracy theories, one regarding his role in allegedly faking the Apollo moon-landing and the other regarding his knowledge of the Illuminati.

He has been also been the subject of numerous attempts to find deep layers of symbolic meaning in his films which many other viewers doubt are actually present.

Conspiracy theories[edit]

Moon landing hoax[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Moon landing hoax

Sometime after his death, someone with too much time on his hands[note 1] began digging through his films and finding such esoteric images as triangles and circles, no doubt the Eye of Providence.Wikipedia Numerous conspiracy theories have since emerged about him, one of the most notable being that he was hired to direct the Apollo moon landing[1] and that he hid a coded confession in The Shining,[2] the three clues being that the Grady twins resemble the Gemini sign (Gemini being Apollo's sister space program), the typewriter scene ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.") should be read as "A-11" rather than "All" and a scene where Danny wears an "Apollo-11 USA" shirt.

Other conspiracy theorists have followed suit, including Michael Wysmierski who promotes theories similar to Jay Weidner in his YouTube video The Shining Code.[3]

Precedent in prank article and mockumentary film[edit]

Prior to Jay Weidner promoting this theory in all seriousness, two pranksters had suggested entirely in jest that Kubrick had faked the moon landings but not everyone saw that they were being tongue-in-cheek. In 1995, the Usenet group published an article claiming Kubrick faked the Moon landings. The joke is given away in several places in particular a sentence which states Kubrick filmed some of the material at the "Sea of Tranquillity",Wikipedia which is a lunar basin.[4] Nonetheless, true moon-hoax believer Clyde Lewis quoted this article as if it was written in earnest.[5]

The French mockumentary Dark Side of the Moon was made by director William Karel in 2002. Made with the cooperation of Kubrick's surviving relatives, his brother-in-law Jan Harlan and his widow Christianne Kubrick, the film suggests that Kubrick faked the moon-landing at the behest of the Nixon administration. All the footage quoting the likes of Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld is taken out of context, and the presence of other interviewees named after characters in Kubrick films is a giveaway that the film is a put-on.

Wikipedia notes:[6]

When the film was shown to a group of sociology students studying conspiracy theories, many mistakenly believed that this was a sincere and serious film.[7] Furthermore, moon-landing hoax advocate Wayne Green cited the film as evidence for his views, apparently believing the out of context footage of Nixon staff was really about a moon landing hoax, as discussed on Jay Windley's "" site defending the reality of the moon landings.[8] Extracts ranging from a few minutes[9] to the whole film stripped of the credits and key sequences[10] have been posted on YouTube by conspiracy theorists as "proof" that, either the images on the moon are fake, or the moon landing itself never happened. Karel himself received e-mails congratulating him for "exposing the moon landing hoax", which amused him.

Illuminati involvement[edit]

It is also held Kubrick was part of a massive Freemason-Illuminati conspiracy and devoted his film career to hiding clues of its existence in his films (with the exception of Spartacus and Barry Lyndon).[11] Eventually the Illuminati decided he had crossed the line with his final film Eyes Wide Shut (for apparently exploring trauma-based mind control)[12] and went on to assassinate Kubrick,[13] this being his cause of death, rather than, you know, being an out-of-shape 70-year old man.

Generally, the Kubrick-Illuminati theory relies on nitpicking to get the point across, analyzing certain scenes (usually the more abstract, visually appealing or mysterious-looking ones), as well as a few select frames and claiming they're symbolic or that they feature hidden messages, and yes, a lot of ranting,[14] without any actual evidence, of course, but it remains a popular and widely discussed conspiracy theory to this day, unsurprisingly.

Although Illuminati conspiracy theories date back a few centuries, they were given an enormous boost by a work of speculative fiction by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea between 1969-1971, titled The Illuminatus! TrilogyWikipedia (The trilogy does not mention Kubrick). Unlike Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code, neither Wilson nor Shea were publicly committed to believing that the theories fictionalized in these novels were actually true.

Alleged secret meanings in Kubrick films[edit]

Although Rob Ager would not exactly be considered a conspiracy theorist, he has put forth numerous claims about alleged secret symbolic readings of Kubrick's films that are widely regarded as tendentious. He argues that the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey is a symbol of the movie screen and that The Shining is really about the decline of the U.S. gold standard. Ager has received coverage in mainstream online journals, including Slate and, alternately being praised and dismissed.

Wired was mixed in its reaction to Ager's first videos in 2007, saying, "Ager's analyses are a screwy mixture of intelligent film theory and zany conspiracy theories" by a "very intelligent and fascinating nutball."[15] It added that Ager had "oscillated wildly between extremely insightful commentary on the symbolism and psychology that made The Shining so effective and Ager's own wishful-thinking political wankery… an odd, fascinating mix… it's nutty, but despite Ager's weirdo conspiracy theories, he does make a convincing case that Kubrick may at least have shared his theories."[16]

Documentary on other theorists and parodies of them[edit]

A serious documentary on multiple readings of The Shining ranging from claims it is an allegory about the gold standard, Kubrick's breakdown while faking the Apollo landings, or the Native American Holocaust is Room 237Wikipedia, a 2012 documentary directed by Rodney Ascher distributed by IFC midnight. Most of the theories in the film have been dismissed by Kubrick's personal assistant, Leon Vitali, as "pure gibberish".[17]

Various videos have been placed online that parody those by the more earnest proponents of Kubrick conspiracy theories or analysts of hidden meanings in his films.[note 2]


It is arguable that Kubrick's somewhat surreal films work so heavily on a subliminal and subconscious level that they lend themselves to this sort of interpretation.

The magazine Dangerous Minds observes of Rob Ager that "What Ager does posit is that Kubrick was working with a language of imagery that spoke directly to the subconscious and could be in contrast to the spoken words."[20]

The truthfulness of Ager's observation may explain why many of his less credible views and those of others have gained traction.

Films of note[edit]

Paths of Glory[edit]

The poster for Paths of Glory

Following his 1956 film The Killing, which performed poorly in the box office, Kubrick directed the film Paths of Glory, which was released in 1957. Paths of Glory is an anti-war film about French soldiers (though shot in English) conducting trench warfare during World War I. The film was sufficiently controversial for its anti-war stance to have been banned or effectively-banned in France, Germany, Spain, and in US military bases. Despite the bans, the film won several international awards and helped to establish Kubrick's reputation as a director.[21]


A poster for Spartacus

Spartacus (released in 1960) was noteworthy for several reasons. It was the first film to openly break the Hollywood blacklist, by actually naming one of the blacklisted in the credits (Dalton Trumbo,Wikipedia who was the screenwriter). The film fictionalizes the life of Spartacus,Wikipedia who led a slave revolt against the Roman Empire during the 1st century CE. The script — naturally — took substantial liberties with what was known of Spartacus, overlaying an overt Christian plot on his life, but more subtly overlaying parallels to the contemporary politics of McCarthyism and the civil rights movement.[22] The film is also noteworthy for a pre-Stonewall, overtly-homoerotic scene between the slave Antoninus (Tony Curtis) and General Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier).[23]

Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.

Spartacus was one of the last Hollywood films to have homosexuality excised,[24]:119-120 unusually it was excised for the 1967 re-release and not in the 1960 original release[22] — probably because the censors of 1960 had no clue as to what was meant by oysters and snails.

Dr. Strangelove[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Dr. Strangelove

A Clockwork Orange[edit]

See the main article on this topic: A Clockwork Orange

External links[edit]


  1. That would mainly be Jay Weidner, occultist, conspiracy theorist and sometime film producer. He now runs Gaiam TV out of a reasonably well-equipped studio in Boulder, Colorado. His extravagant imagination would seem to have paid off.
  2. Notable parody videos include "Connections Between The Shining and Lolita, 1921 Photograph Explained, Stanley Kubrick Chess Club #1"[18] and "New Discovery in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining".[19]


  1. Kubrick's Odyssey: Secrets Hidden in the films of Stanley Kubrick. Part One: Kubrick and Apollo by Jay Weidner (2011).
  2. Kubrick's Odyssey II: Beyond the Infinite Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick by Jay Weidner (2012) Sacred Mysteries (DVD).
  3. The Shining Code 1.0 by Michael Wysmierski (2012) YouTube.
  4. Stanley Kubrick and the Moon Hoax (1995) Clavius, reprinted from
  5. Good Luck Mr. Gorsky and Other Lies About the Moon by Clyde Lewis (c. 2010) Ground Zero (archived from November 5, 2011).
  6. See the Wikipedia article on Dark Side of the Moon (2002 film).
  7. More Than a Hoax: William Karel's Critical Mockumentary Dark Side of the Moon by Henry M. Taylor (2007) Post Script: Essays in Film and the Humanities 26(3):88-101.
  8. Response to Wayne Green by Jay Windley (2004) Clavius.
  9. "Fake Moon Landing explained- A Film by Kubrick , Nixon, Rumsfeld, Kissinger,CIA Richard Helms". Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  10. "WE NEVER WENT TO THE MOON - 1 of 3". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  11. Prison Planet forum on Kubrick
  12. Prison Planet forum on Eyes Wide Shut
  13. Was filmmaking genius Stanley Kubrick 'snuffed' in retribution for symbolic exposé of the Illuminati in "Eyes Wide Shut"? by Nepos Libertas (2008-03-30 17:58 )Wake Up From Your Slumber (archived from May 19, 2013).
  14. Eyes Wide Shut: Occult Symbolism (March 19, 2006) The Kentroversy Papers (archived from November 8, 2020).
  15. Kubrick's Shining Analysed on YouTube by John Brownlee (May 8, 2009) Wired (archived from October 24, 2009).
  16. Kubrick, Clockwork Orange and the Illuminati by John Brownlee (May 10, 2007 | 10:47 am) Wired (archived from July 31, 2010).
  17. Segal, David (March 27, 2013). "It’s Back. But What Does It Mean? Aide to Kubrick on ‘Shining’ Scoffs at ‘Room 237’ Theories". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  18. Connections Between The Shining and Lolita, 1921 Photograph Explained, Stanley Kubrick Chess Club #1 by Zef Earth (Jan 19, 2016) YouTube.
  19. New Discovery in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining: The Shone Report by shawnfella (Feb 23, 2011) YouTube.
  20. Kubrick's Cover Story: The Double Narratives and Hidden Meanings of '2001' by Niall O'Conghaile (03.13.2012 11:01 am) Dangerous Minds.
  21. See the Wikipedia article on Paths of Glory.
  22. 22.0 22.1 See the Wikipedia article on Spartacus.
  23. Ten Movies Where the Gay Was Taken Out by Michael Musto (October 05 2015 10:32 AM EDT) Out Magazine.
  24. The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies by Vito Russo (1987) Harper & Row.