In an interview from Turner Classic movies, filmmaker Terry Gilliam provides his perspective on the differences between Stanely Kubrick and Steven Spielberg. Essentially, it comes down to this: Spielberg provides comforting answers for his audience; Kubrick (as in 2001: A SPACY ODYSSEY) raises challenging questions that provoke the audience to think.
To underline his point, Gilliam quotes an exchange between Kubrick and Frederick Raphael, his co-writer on EYES WIDE SHUT. In Raphael’s memoir of their working relationship, Eyes Wide Open, he recounts a conversation regarding films that have depicted the Holocaust. Raphael shows off his smarts by mentioning obscure titles, while Kubrick keeps asking “What else?” Finally, Raphael is forced to mention the elephant in the room SCHINDLER’S LIST. What follows goes like this:
STANLEY KUBRICK: “Think that was about the Holocaust?”
FREDERICK RAPHAEL: “Wasn’t it? What else was it about?”
STANLEY KUBRICK: “That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. SCHINDLER’S LIST was about 600 people who don’t.”