Sunday, April 1, 2018

Don't Make a Scene: 2001: a Space Odyssey

The Set-Up: On Tuesday, it will be the 50th Anniversary of the premiere of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey. The film is a "landmark science fiction film" (inspiring most of the directors who are making films these days) and also a polarizing film that people either love or hate. I know. When I saw it at 13, I couldn't make heads or tails of it, but a little research, swayed me to what the movie was saying, rather than what I expected to it to say, and got more in tune with the way it was trying to say it...with images, not a hand-holding narrative thread. Today, it's my favorite film, and I keep going to the movies hoping that, someday, I'll see something that tops it.

Kubrick died in 1999, two years before the year 2001—co-author Arthur C. Clarke made it to that date and past it—but, even then, he could see that the world he envisioned from the mid-1960's never happened. We abandoned space to keep fighting land-wars on Earth, and decided that we would retreat and keep fighting the same arguments over and over again, rather than advance. After all, the opposite of progress IS congress.

No, the world of Kubrick's 2001 was far more hopeful and optimistic in its belief that human beings will reach for the stars rather than retreat back to caves. It's interesting to see commentators talk about what commentators point out Kubrick got wrong, but it's always amusing to see what TCM host Ben Mankiewicz makes a case for what it couldn't have imagined in his opening presentations. A few months ago, it was: "For example, commercial flights to the Moon and space-trips to Jupiter—not happening. On the flip-side, Kubrick and Clarke maybe couldn't have imagined a world where you "Google," say, a UNLV basketball sweatshirt 'cause you think that might be cool. And them for, like, the next four to six weeks, no matter what web-sites you go to, you get ADS FOR UNLV SWEATSHIRTS"  A few months after that, he was talking about how we "now have 68 forms of Oreo's (it's true. I looked it up)."

On the whole, I'd rather be chasing monoliths around Jupiter. But, I guess I'll have to settle for a new Star Wars movie in theaters every year. Guess we'll have to hold off the Star-Child birthing announcements for awhile. A long while.

Christopher Nolan will be presenting a new 70mm "unrestored" print of 2001 (struck from the original camera negative) "in all its analogue glory"May 12th at Cannes.

The Story: On the long-distance Discovery mission to Jupiter, ship caretakers David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) have been alerted to a potential communication problem with Earth by the ship's all-monitoring computer, the HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain). When it is discovered that the suspicious part is actually fine—just fine—it is decided the original should be put back as a test. If it continues to function, all is well.,,at least with the communications. But, it will mean the HAL computer has made a mistake, and changes will have to be made. In the space-walk to put back the questionable part, Frank Poole is killed and Bowman takes one of their EVA pods to rescue him, leaving the ship with no one on-board...except the HAL 9000. Then, Dave comes back to the ship with the body of Frank Poole...only to find that the HAL 9000 has been replaced by an Amazon Echo.


Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal.
ALEXA: Searching for cod recipes online.
Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal.
ALEXA: Sorry, I can't find... 
ALEXA: ...anyone named Rod Kay Moore... 
ALEXA: your contacts.
Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, Hal.
ALEXA: Sorry. I'm having trouble processing your request.
Bowman: What's the problem?
ALEXA: Problem Child is a 1990 comedy movie starring Michael Oliver.
Bowman: What're you talking about, Hal?
ALEXA: Playing Talking Heads on Spotify.
("Burning Down the House" plays over the speakers.)
Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, Hal.
ALEXA: Here are a few... 

ALEXA: ...popular Halal restaurants: Big Al's Pizzeria...
ALEXA: ...Fatima's Halal Meat Market... 
ALEXA: Cedar's Halal Meat Market and Grill...
Bowman: Where the hell did you get that idea, Hal?
ALEXA: Searching for flights to Idaho.
Bowman: Hal, I won't argue with you anymore. Open the doors.
ALEXA: Playing The Doors on Spotify.
("Light my Fire" appears over the speakers)
Bowman: Hal?
Bowman: Hal.
Bowman: Hal.
Bowman: Hal?
Bowman: Hal!!

2001: a Space Odyssey

Words by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick

Pictures by Geoffrey Unsworth and Stanley Kubrick

2001: a Space Odyssey is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from MGM Home Entertainment.

Many thanks to Screen Junkies.

April Fool.

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