The desire or even the will for control based on rationality is one of the essential marks of Kubrick the artist and the man. It has its visual equivalent in symmetry, where the power of the imperious look is exercised. The Roman legions in Spartacus, the English regiments in Barry Lyndon, the French army in Paths of Glory, the recruits drilling in Full Metal Jacket are arranged in strict order. The film sets themselves obey this outline. The entrance hall of Mr Alexander's house in Clockwork Orange, with its chequerboard floor and facing mirrors in which he is reflected, corresponds to the squares of the flooring in the castle in Paths of Glory, where the military tribunal sentences the three men to death for the example. The stalls in the barracks toilet in Full Metal Jacket also face each other in an unusual arrangement. Another toilet, in The Shining, is the site of the encounter between Jack Torrance and Grady, the caretaker of Hotel Overlook. The Shining is doubtless the film where symmetry is exploited most deliberately, up to the perverse dissymmetry of the labyrinth.

These harmonious shots, framed with precision, are developed in Kubrick's taste for the closed circle, the perfect spheres that suggest a closed world, an autarkic system, from the circular table of the war room of Dr. Strangelove and the interior of the spaceship Discovery in 2001 up to the obsessive round shapes in Clockwork Orange ranging from billiard balls and the Droogs' bowlers to women's breasts or the ring of prisoners.

The scripts of Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut also conform to this rule of symmetry, the second part of an itinerary referring to a first part so as to evoke the decline or fall of the protagonists. One of Kubrick's preferred stylistic devices, the dolly out, participates in this implacable rigour with characters who seem to march inexorably towards their fate: Colonel Dax and General Mireau inspecting the trenches in Paths of Glory; Alex moving about in the drugstore or the minister visiting him in the hospital in Clockwork Orange; Jack Torrance heading for the gilded lounge or pursuing his son in the labyrinth in The Shining; the astronaut jogging in the spaceship in 2001; the couple in Eyes Wide Shut leaving their flat; or Lord Bullingdon going to the club to provoke his stepfather to a duel in Barry Lyndon. Every time, the dolly out comes to divide the space into two equal parts.

These figures of order are inseparable from the irruption of disorder, which comes to upset the finest organisation. With Kubrick, everything hinges on the conflict between reason and passion, this invasion of suppressed impulses hidden behind the veneer of the civilised man. The revolt of the computer that goes mad in 2001; the rape of Mrs Alexander in Clockwork Orange; the murder of the drill sergeant by Private Gomer Pyle, who then kills himself, in Full Metal Jacket; Jack Torrance's homicidal fury in The Shining; the boxing match succeeding the military organisation, or the brawl on the ground between Lord Bullingdon and his stepfather, Barry, after the performance of a Bach organ concerto in Barry Lyndon: so many examples of a dysfunction following illusory stability. Most often, it is a hand camera held by Kubrick himself or the Steadicam, which expresses confusion, imbalance or chaos. "Two dangers threaten the world: order and disorder," asserted Paul Valéry. Kubrick's oeuvre is the most dazzling illustration of this maxim.

Michel Ciment