Friday, April 17, 2015

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick- 2001: A Space Odyssey

A hearty greetings for Day 4 of Director Week starring Stanley Kubrick. Well we have had some Film Noir, some satire and even a risque tale of tawdry. Clearly it is time for some science fiction and no greater in Kubrick's collection that the combined efforts of Kubrick's story telling and acclaimed Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (Against the Fall of Night, The Sands of Mars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010 and The Hammer of the God) writing styles. Working in junction with one another after being inspired by Clarke's "The Sentinel" short story, both men worked on the screenplay and Clarke later adapted it into his novel. This is 2001: A Space Odyssey.


The African desert, a gathering of early hominids (Australopithecus, an early primate) are roused and driven from their water hole by another tribe. The next morning a huge, black monolith appears before them. A man-ape discovers to use a bone as both a tool and weapon. Armed with this knowledge (and several bones) they proceed back to the water hole and bump off the leader of the other tribe, thus reclaiming it for themselves. That doesn't sound very Sci-fi, Jake. Hold on, it get better.

Millions of years later a Pan Am (hey, this film was made in 1968) space plane carrying Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester of Gorgo, Devil Doll. Devils of Darkness and Quincy M.E.) who explains to the US lunar outpost that Floyd and a team of scientists have discovered an artifact dating back as far as four million years ago. Floyd and company jet over in a Moonbus to the artifact to discover it is a monolith based on the previous one in Africa. 18 months later the spacecraft Discovery One is off to Jupiter. Aboard this massive ship is Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea of Madame X, The Fox, Devil in the Brain, The Starlost. Black Christmas and 2010) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood of Splendor in the Grass, They Came to Rob Las Vegas, Star Trek, Barnaby Jones and Night of the Scarecrow). Both men are scientists as well as pilots navigating to the regions of space with three colleagues in cryogenic sleep chambers. The better portion of operations is handled by the ship's computer the HAL 9000.

Hey Walt, this candy bar's got knowledge!

HAL reports a failure of an antenna control device and the guys head outside to check it out when they cannot find anything wrong with it, HAL insists it be re-attached so he can assess what is the error. Contacting Mission control, HAL's twin computer finds nothing wrong with the component either but HAL continually believes human error has occurred. HAL's behavior is steadily more erratic, Bowman and Poole need to hatch a plan on what to do. How can they disable an AI that runs the better functions of the ship? Would a machine using cold logic simply do away with them to save the mission?

And now some fun facts on the flick. The original idea for the alien monolith was to be a huge device with a translucent screen showing the apes how to use tools and weapons but Arthur C. Clarke dismissed the idea thinking it too naive' and better it seem as the ideas were transmitted electronically to the lobes. Also HAL was slated to be a mobile robot but Clarke thought it would look primitive in decades to come so better the massive computer with the all seeing red eye.

US Air Force Mission Controller Frank Miller was hired to give the most authentic depiction the producers could find. Unfortunately he was nervous to read his part and ended up tapping his foot through recording sessions and the tapping was recorded as well. Kubrick finally ended up folding a large towel and placing it under Miller's feet and said tap to your heart's content now.

Hurry up with docking procedures... I gotta pee.