Kubrick Stare vs. Spielberg Face

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Have you seen the marvelous Kevin B. Lee visual essay surrounding the trademark Steven Spielberg face? It’s engrossing and only nine minutes. Watch it, it’s fascinating.


The Kubrick Stare. The person lowers the head and stares away signifying madness.

OR my favorite Kubrick stare, Pyle in Full Metal Jacket

Their signature stares have become a cliché.  Whose are better? Kubrick or Spielberg?

34 Comments on “Kubrick Stare vs. Spielberg Face

    • Thanks, Michael. I’m curious what your favorite stare/face is. I’m guessing you liked The Shining (the scariest book I’ve read) since it’s penned by your hero. 😉


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  2. Oh, the Kubrick stare just sends shivers down your spine. It’s so effective and chilling. I’m thinking I may have to spend a few hours in the bathroom in front of the mirror to extract some benefit from this one. One never knows just how powerfully influential a director can be on the rest of humanity–cast in their film or not! Muwha-ha-ha!


    • Hiya Shelley! I’ve always admired the two directors but hadn’t given much thought to their trademark shots until the other day. Sometimes in the morning before coffee I think I might make that Nicholson or Sellers freaky expression 😉


  3. Gotta go with the Kubrick stare. I think the effectiveness of Spielberg’s “face” has been blunted by over-use, to be honest, though when it works it works.


    • Hi Dave. In the visual essay it was mentioned after 9-11 Spielberg himself changed the look from child-like wonderment to a stare depicting the absence of humanity. Regardless, I reckon if we were to face an alien or resurrected dinosaur, we’d be gawking with wide eyes, too 😉


      • Yeah, I’m pretty rough when it comes to coverage of post-9/11 Spielberg… I’ve seen MUNICH but I think that’s maybe it?


  4. I really enjoyed the visual essay. I am a fan of both Kubrick & Spielberg, both terrific filmmakers. But I love Kubrick a load more than Spielberg, thus Kubrick for me is the better director.


  5. Hi, Cindy:

    It’s all downward lighting. And dropping the head a fraction of an inch.

    Yes. Vincent D’Onfrio is scary, Frankenstein kind of way.

    Jack Nicholson does crazy and chews scenery better than most. As noted in ‘The Shining’. I’ll take it a few steps further with Nicholson’s “I am the Shore Patrol!!!” scene from ‘The Last Detail’.

    Warning: Language.

    Still like Sterling Hayden’s rarely blinking visage ‘The Killing’ from Kubrick. Opposite George C. Scott’s manic Gen. “Buck” Turgidson trying to sell Mutual Assured Destruction” in ‘Dr. Strangelove’.

    Surprised you missed HAL’s red eye and monotone in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Logically scary!


  6. What a fascinating topic here Cindy! Hmmm, I haven’t seen enough of Kubrick’s stuff but I have seen so many stills from his films. I don’t know about ‘better’ but Kubrick’s stares are definitely more ominous and unsettling, whilst a lot of Spielberg’s convey a sense of wonderment.


    • Yes–I hope if you have nine minutes you get a chance to listen to the video about Spielberg. I thought it was fascinating. Kubrick stare is ominous, yes, but I’m going with Spielberg simply because he’s made three times as many films as Kubrick and therefore more influential.


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