Only half of The Seafarers really feels like Kubrick. While he handled photography and editing on the entire film, the second half moves out of his comfort zone (or interest level). The film’s a promotional for the Seafarers International Union; the second half has most of that promoting.
Kubrick stays interested during the first half, where he’s composing his shots like still photographs, only with motion. There’s a tour of the Union hall and its activities, which Kubrick’s able to do wonders with. He goes for the iconic shot every time, especially of a secretary on a ladder in front of a huge card catalog.
But the second half, dealing with member benefits and recruitment, Kubrick zones out. His shots of members listening to speeches show these disinterested, unsure faces. At that point, one wonders more about the film’s making than its content.
The Seafarers is problematic, but still worthwhile.
Photographed, edited and directed by Stanley Kubrick; written by Will Chasen; produced by Lester Cooper; released by the Seafarers International Union.
Narrated by Don Hollenbeck.