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The Moon Landing by Kubrick And Other Movie-related Conspiracy Theories

Some movies become cult classics, while others provoke viewers to create complex theories about the plot.

Tomasz Raczkowski

19 April 2024

The Moon Landing by Kubrick And Other Movie-related Conspiracy Theories

Yet others become the subject of conspiracy theories, with viewers seeking hidden meanings, machinations, and subtexts behind the circumstances of their production. In this text, I focus on such cases of smaller and larger conspiracy theories accompanying films.

Eyes Wide Shut and the Freemasons

eyes wide shut

Let’s start with a bang, namely the theory concerning Stanley Kubrick and his final film, Eyes Wide Shut. The 1999 film was plagued by many upheavals (the first draft of the script was created in the late 60s), and the result that made it to the screens was quite polarizing. Not everyone bought into the erotic thriller prepared by the esteemed master, but it’s impossible to deny the memorable climax of the film with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman – of course, I’m referring to the infamous occult orgy scene in the suburban mansion. Many people saw something more in the sequence than just Kubrick exploring the main character’s id. To this day, a theory with its followers claims that Eyes Wide Shut exposes the shadowy rituals of the Freemasons, and the aforementioned sequence was nothing more than a reconstruction of authentic orgies of secret occultists. According to this version, Kubrick himself was shortly after completing the film, killed by the very Masons he had exposed. These same perpetrators also destroyed the legendary 20 minutes that were said to be missing from the version originally prepared by the author. I must admit that this is one of the more intriguing conspiracy theories, partly because it’s relatively difficult to debunk – the circumstances surrounding the film, the impossibility of obtaining the author’s commentary, and the themes that indeed imply satanic and pedophilic elements in the film, all contribute to a mood where one can get carried away by fantasy and believe in revelations about Kubrick’s last work.

The mistaken Oscar for Marisa Tomei

In 1993, 29-year-old Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in My Cousin Vinny, beating out contenders such as Judy Davis and Vanessa Redgrave. The Academy’s decision was so surprising that a theory emerged suggesting that Jack Palance, who announced the winner, possibly under the influence of substances, misread the name and instead of the true winner, Redgrave, read out the name of the younger actress. Allegedly, the startled gala organizers failed to react promptly and thereby sanctioned the mistake, making Tomei the “mistaken” recipient of the statuette. This damaging rumor was repeatedly debunked and refuted based on procedural analysis. Today, as the excitement over early 90s Oscars has waned for many, the theory of a mistake has largely faded away, although there may still be some who believe in a layered conspiracy to cover up incompetence during the ceremony.

The Glee Curse

At one time, Glee was an incredibly popular sitcom, primarily associated with its cheerful atmosphere of musical singing and good entertainment. Unfortunately, the realities surrounding the series were less joyful, which manifested in the emergence of the so-called “Glee Curse” theory. Its origins lie in the premature deaths of actors involved in the production – Cory Monteith, Naya Rivera, and Mark Salling – which forced production delays and script changes. Additionally, Melissa Benoist experienced domestic violence. Indeed, there’s a lot of tragedy for one ensemble, but each case has quite a reasonable explanation – primarily in the shadows of sudden fame and wealth and the accompanying substance abuse. However, this doesn’t change the fact that some viewers began to believe in the “Glee Curse,” attributing the sources of misfortune to the series itself, which allegedly brought curses upon its participants.

2001: A Space Odyssey and the Moon landing

2001 a space odyssey monolith

Once again, we delve into Stanley Kubrick’s filmography, this time going back to his science fiction classic. The premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey coincided with the Apollo 11 moon landing. This event has become surrounded by numerous myths, including one proclaiming that it was all staged by Kubrick. The meticulous set designs and models seen in the 1968 film were purportedly built and utilized for this purpose, then destroyed to erase traces. Indeed, most of the props were destroyed, allegedly on the director’s own orders, to prevent his project from being copied and repurposed. This adds an extra layer of intrigue. According to proponents of this theory, Kubrick himself placed clues about the truth of the staged landing in The Shining. However, I think the matter is best settled by the saying that if Stanley Kubrick had actually directed the moon landing, he would have sent the crew to the moon.

The films of Uwe Boll are a money laundering scheme

There are filmmakers whose names are inseparably associated with cinematic quality. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Uwe Boll, a notoriously bad filmmaker whose movies are sometimes considered the worst ever made. Regardless of how much truth there is to that, it’s undeniable that the German has an impressive filmography consisting largely of questionable quality productions. How is it possible that someone who repeatedly creates flops still gets funding for further works? One answer could be the theory that Boll’s subsequent productions are actually projects used for laundering dirty money. In this case, quality doesn’t matter because the goal is entirely different. Perhaps there’s something to this, but it seems to me that even if true, it’s not the only explanation – there’s too much genuine, albeit not talent-supported, passion for cinema evident in Boll’s films.

Moonlight and La La Land

A quarter century after Marisa Tomei’s surprising Oscar win, the conspiracy theory surrounding her mistaken announcement materialized in a way with the film La La Land. Damien Chazelle’s musical was announced as the winner of the Oscar in the main category, only to be revealed moments later that there was a mistake, and the actual winner was Moonlight. The already legendary blunder of the organizers became the source of reverse theories this time, suggesting that Warren Beatty read the actual/original verdict, which was changed at the last minute due to political correctness. It’s quite amusing how such speculations can be juxtaposed with those regarding Tomei’s Oscar – one can see them as mutually exclusive reversals.

William Goldman wrote

Good Will Hunting launched the careers of two actors who still belong to Hollywood’s elite today – Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The highlight of their debut success wasn’t just their screen charisma but also the fact that they co-wrote the film. It remains one of the flagship success stories in the Dream Factory, showing how talent and hard work can lead to the top. However, not everyone believes in such a beautiful tale, hence the theory that Good Will Hunting was actually written by one of the industry’s leading screenwriters: William Goldman (known for works like Misery and A Bridge Too Far), and the two young aspiring filmmakers were signed under him as a marketing ploy. The theory isn’t very coherent, especially since the pitching of Affleck and Damon is well documented. Therefore, this theory should be taken with a grain of salt, as it seems to be motivated more by jealousy toward the success of the young ambitious screenwriters.

Steven Spielberg directed Poltergeist


Perhaps not much of a conspiracy in this case, but quite a popular theory – and one I’m inclined to believe without much difficulty – suggests that the iconic horror film from 1982 was not actually directed by Tobe Hooper, as the credits claim, but by the film’s producer, Steven Spielberg. Rumors from the set suggested that the creator of Jaws had a significant influence on creative decisions, which finds confirmation in the aesthetics of Poltergeist, bearing clear signs of Spielberg’s directorial signature. The fact that in the dominant producer-driven system in Hollywood, the director often has a more executive role, and much depends on the producers, but in this case, the theory suggests that Spielberg crossed the traditional boundaries of such collaboration, effectively directing the film. Frankly, after a re-watch of Poltergeist, it’s hard for me to find arguments to refute this theory.

Tomasz Raczkowski

Tomasz Raczkowski

Anthropologist, critic, enthusiast of social cinema, British humor and horror films.

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