Kino Lorber’s forthcoming Fear and Desire Bluray looks great — natural, clean, straight from the lab. Until this release the only way to see Stanley Kubrick‘s first film was to get hold of one of those dupey, cruddy-looking VHS tapes or DVDs, or watch via online stream. So this is great news from a purist, restorationist perspective.

The problem, of course, is that the movie itself is an embarassment. Kubrick called it crap in interviews, and it’s easy to see why. Soldiers caught behind enemy lines in some kind of existential. low-budget conflict in what looks to be a park in upstate New York or New Jersey with the picnic tables removed. Blah, blah, blah. Fear and Desire should be shown to all first-time filmmakers. It will greatly encourage them to know that Kubrick made Paths of Glory only four years later.

The first thing you hear is some pretentious narration, written by Howard Sackler, that goes as follows: “There is war in this forest. Not a war that has been fought, or one that will be, but any war. And the enemies who struggle here do not exist, unless we call them into being. This forest, then, and all that happens now is outside history. Only the unchanging shapes of fear — and doubt and death — are from our world. These soldiers that you see keep our language and our time, but have no other country but the mind.” I wanted to turn it off right then and there.

The only thing that sustained my interest was the fact that Fear and Desire has been mastered at 1.33. Any film that brings even a little discomfort into the heads of guys like Bob Furmanek is, in my book, a good thing. Don’t believe it when these guys say they just want the correct aspect ratio to be rendered. That’s just what they say for attribution.