Stanley Kubrick's Lost Screenplay Burning Secret Has Been Uncovered

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Stanley Kubrick's Lost Screenplay <i>Burning Secret</i> Has Been Uncovered

An unrealized project, co-written by Stanley Kubrick in 1956, has been uncovered, and its close to a completed project that could be developed by filmmakers.

Burning Secret, written by Kubrick and novelist Calder Willingham, is an adaptation of the 1913 Viennese novella by writer Stefan Zweig. The script was found by Nathan Abrams, a Kubrick scholar at Bangor University, who described it as “an inverse of Lolita.” He told The Guardian, “In Burning Secret, the main character befriends the son to get to the mother. In Lolita, he marries the mother to get to the daughter. I think that with the 1956 production code, that would be a tricky one to get by. But he managed with Lolita in 1962—only just.”

The MGM script department stamped the screenplay on Oct. 24, 1956—one year before Calder and Kubrick released their collaboration Paths of Glory. Abrams also told The Guardian, “It’s a full screenplay so [it] could be completed by filmmakers today.” It’s the story of a man who befriends a 10-year-old in the hopes of seducing his married mother. The project is well-known among Kubrick fans, but it was unknown that the project had progressed as far as it had.

During his 45-year career, Kubrick only made 13 feature films, but he’s considered a master filmmaker and visual stylist. He died in 1999, just months after completing Eyes Wide Shut, a controversial psychosexual thriller starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Burning Secret, which is owned by the son of one of Kubrick’s collaborators, isn’t the only of his projects that went unrealized. A.I., which was eventually adapted by Steven Spielberg, was another unmade Kubrick screenplay.