The first feature-length film of the young Stanley Kubrick (he was 25 when the film was released in 1953), Fear and Desire tells the story of four soldiers caught behind enemy lines after their plane crashes in a forest. They decide to build a raft to go down the river and get back to their own lines. The drama provides neither a space-time point of reference nor information on the conflict in question; this is "any war" as the voice-off indicates at the beginning of the narrative. For Kubrick, Fear and Desire was an allegory on war, showing "the universal drama of the human being lost in a hostile world, deprived of material and spiritual foundations, searching for his path towards knowledge and life" (1).
Kubrick, also producer of the film, asked Howard O. Sackler to write the script. The feature was made in 35 mm on a very low budget, with a skeleton technical crew reduced and images filmed without synchronous sound.
Despite good reviews when Fear and Desire was released, Kubrick allegedly bought up all the copies of the film in circulation to destroy them, dismissing his first work as a "clumsy feature film", and even an "inept, pretentious attempt" (2). The film thus became practically invisible, even though a few copies managed to survive.
(1) Jordi Vidal, Traité du combat moderne, Films et fictions de Stanley Kubrick, (Paris, Allia, 2005), p. 17.
(2) Robert Brustein, "Out of this World", The New York Review of Books, 6 February 1970.