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How “2001″ Became the Space Odyssey We Know
August 4, 2012 11:54 AM   Subscribe

"James Cameron narrates this documentary on the classic film 2001. It includes archival footage of the late Arthur C. Clarke in the 1960s touring spacecraft manufacturing facilities, footage of designers putting together models, snippets of archival footage of Kubrick, interviews with various luminaries, and various other amazing stuff I’ve never seen. It also features interviews with Doug Trumbull and others who did special effects for the film. If you’re a 2001 fan, this is 43 minutes of candy. Skip to 7:00 to find out how they did the floating-pen trick — including an interview with the actress who played the “Space Hostess” who grabbed the pen seemingly from midair. Skip to around 11:00 to meet the guys who played the apes ... . Around 13:45, Clarke explains how the monolith originally was to have a movie screen on it ... ."
posted by SpacemanStix (34 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite

 
Letter from Kubrick to Clarke . . .
posted by exlotuseater at 12:34 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had not realized that the ape acting was designed by a mime. I do recall from The Lost Worlds of 2001 that they were rather indignant that the Academy Award for makeup that year went to Planet of the Apes.
posted by localroger at 1:09 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


God, that film was brilliant.
posted by Decani at 1:17 PM on August 4, 2012


It was an okay movie.
posted by swift at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2012


If you are in Los Angeles, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences is showing a 70mm print on Monday night. Just in time for Curiosity's celebration party.
posted by effluvia at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Never got the star child I thought it was a metaphor for the new sun/star that Jupiter became. For Clarke to go on about the technical screw-up of trying to hold your breath in space kind of pales in comparison to the botched astronomy of another sun in our solar system and the effect on the planets orbital paths and other astronomical objects within the gravitational influence of the new double sun. I quite enjoyed the movie and try to watch it every couple of years.
posted by pdxpogo at 2:24 PM on August 4, 2012


Jupiter becoming a star didn't happen until 2010 and in any case, the orbits wouldn't change because the mass stayed the same.
posted by octothorpe at 2:37 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


the gravitational influence of the new double sun

Jupiter didn't get more massive; the orbits wouldn't change.
posted by spaltavian at 2:54 PM on August 4, 2012


When Clarke talks about the transition from the bone to the spaceship, it was new information to me -- that it actual becomes "an orbiting space bomb, a weapon" and not just some space vehicle.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:12 PM on August 4, 2012


I do recall from The Lost Worlds of 2001 that they were rather indignant that the Academy Award for makeup that year went to Planet of the Apes.

If I remember right, the reported issue there was that in fact the folks from the Academy were under the assumption that those were, in fact, apes on the screen, such was the convincing nature of the makeup and acting and direction in the sequence (and, I'd guess, lower levels of general exposure to primate wildlife footage in the sixties compared to the Animal Planet world of today). So the film sort of got the Secret Award For Makeup Awesomeness from the rest of the universe, I guess.
posted by cortex at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jupiter didn't get more massive

Where did the monoliths go?
posted by pashdown at 3:32 PM on August 4, 2012


octothorpe: Jupiter becoming a star didn't happen until 2010 and in any case, the orbits wouldn't change because the mass stayed the same.

spaltavian: Jupiter didn't get more massive; the orbits wouldn't change.


hmmmm Jupiter is a gas giant a "failed" star because there wasn't enough mass to have it ignite. The monoliths start assembling and joining with Jupiter. Am I misremembering the explanation of how Jupiter can ignite and remain the same mass? I always interpreted the massing of the monoliths as an altruistic gift from an older civilization they gave themselves up to create another solar system to explore for humans. The new star was proof we were not alone in the universe and ushered in a new beginning for mankind.
posted by pdxpogo at 3:39 PM on August 4, 2012


New star is alien tech, it can do whatever it likes.

SPOILERS FOR 2060
Not that it lasts forever...
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on August 4, 2012


It was an okay movie.
posted by swift at 4:58 PM on August 4 [+] [!]


( O )
posted by hal9k at 4:11 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on August 4, 2012


I don't think it was the case that the monoliths were somehow the physical manifestations of the aliens. No altruistic sacrifice going on here. Maybe Jupiter didn't have the mass it needed to become a star by itself and they just had to squish it a bit to get it started. Is Jupiter massive enough to sustain being a star once initiated?
posted by zengargoyle at 4:14 PM on August 4, 2012


( O )
Is that ascii goatse?
posted by pmcp at 4:15 PM on August 4, 2012


"At one screening of the film in Los Angeles, a young audience member rose to his feet at the film’s conclusion, ran down the aisle and crashed through the screen, all the while shouting, 'It’s God! It’s God!'" (via)
posted by fairmettle at 4:41 PM on August 4, 2012


That was a really interesting link, fairmettle. It is very difficult for me to watch 2001 without seeing in it Kubrick's deep cynicism and satiric sensibilities, especially in his presentation of a future in which humans are only capable of low-key deadpan speech while their computers are so emotional as to cross over into madness, and that the intrusion of the alien into our world, which pushes us forward, also makes use, at its first appearance, utterly murderous, and more skilled at murder. This is, of course, informed by his other movies -- imagine, if you will, that the caveman scene in 2001 and the remainder of the movie are bookends, and contained within them is the rest of Kubrick's oeuvre. Here we have a frequently unrelentingly bleak collection of movies of humans as slaveholder, or duelists, or warriors being pushed into suicidal battles by their benighted superiors, or pushing humanity toward mass extinction, and everywhere there are the weapons of men, getting better and deadlier as our use of them becomes increasingly insane.

And yet it seems like Kubrick and Clarke were going for something else here. They were genuinely attempting to use cinema to present the awesome spectre of the unknown, and our smallness in the face of the universe, which is older and stranger than we may know. Perhaps Kubrick intended this as a corrective. That while we go about our deadly daily affairs, the universe marches on, to its own eons-slow beat, implacable and enormous and extraordinary. And that, when we are ready to fully engage it, we might evolve beyond the monkeys with sticks we evolved into.

I can see why people were so moved by this -- remember, the film came out after a series of assassinations and riots, and literally opened the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. I would have wanted to see something more in the world in those days. I would have needed to know we were capable of becoming something new and unknown.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:02 PM on August 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is Jupiter massive enough to sustain being a star once initiated?

Fusion would compel the gas giant to expand. When a gas expands, it cools down (this is how your fridge keep things cool). Jupiter would cool itself enough to shut down any nascent reaction. There's not enough mass for sufficient gravity to keep Jupiter "squeezed" and hot.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:05 PM on August 4, 2012


That line about after four days getting to the point where Kubrick would say “good morning” and the guy would wonder just what he was trying to say is so funny to me.
posted by theredpen at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2012


This is one of the best documentaries about a film that I have seen. Principals, actors, behind- the- scenes anecdotes, footage both rare and from the film itself, the scientific backstories, examining the issues involved -- all contribute to a fine piece if work. Bravo. Having just watched the DVD a few weeks ago, (a 4th or 5th viewing of the film) it had special relevance to me. Too bad Kubrick, a real genius -- was gone by the time they got around to doing this. Thanks for the link.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 6:42 PM on August 4, 2012


I always wish he'd lived longer and made that WH40k film he was considering for a mad moment.
posted by Artw at 7:01 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


( O )
Is that ascii goatse?


Thats the emoticon that represents HAL reading your lips and deciding how to keep your lack of enthusiasm from jeopardizing the mission.
posted by condour75 at 9:29 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The pen effect is beautifully explained, and the ape miming. Other nice moments:

23:00 for a video phone in the actual year 2001, which looks primitive compared to what we have today.

24:30 for the real-world basis for HAL singing Daisy

37:10 and following, compares the age makeup for "Old Dave" vs the real-world aging of Keir Dullea.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:37 PM on August 4, 2012


From the producers of "James Cameron narrates a documentary on the classic film 2001," comes "Kenny G narrates a documentary on John Coltrane."
posted by Relay at 10:26 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Photographic Effects Supervisor, Douglas Trumbull, talksabout his experiences working on 2001: A Space Odyssey
posted by Artw at 10:28 PM on August 4, 2012


Camille Paglia alert!
posted by La Cieca at 10:40 PM on August 4, 2012


Woah, Ed Straker piloted the moon shuttle in 2001. Mind. Officially. Blown.
posted by jabah at 10:59 PM on August 4, 2012


Camille Paglia alert!

Yeah, how did she get tapped for this? Her "analysis" is the only sour note in this for me. The usual overwrought analogies, etc. With her "homicidal, creative" remark re the apes, she immediately seizes the opportunity to flog her "creativity is a male, hormonal thing that men were motivated to do in response to women's childbearing" trope. (c.f., her infamous quote: that "if women were in charge of culture, we'd still be living in grass huts." As a creative (musical) male, I can only respond that a) my creative output has little to do with my maleness, as far as I can see, and b) I'm offended on behalf of the many creative women I've known.)

The nadir of her silly commentary may be when she characterizes Keir Dullea's scene where he's dismantling HAL as his being "emotionless" during it (which would fit her thesis about male cold-blooded killing), which is directly contradicted by his observation (immediately following her bit, probably a deliberate editing decision by the docu makers) that that scene was "fun" for him to play precisely because, unlike the earlier scenes where he and the other astronaut deliberately underplayed the emotional aspects of their characters, order to create an ironic contrast with the surprisingly emotional HAL, he got to be *more* emotional in this scene. You can see the struggle Dave Bowman is having, keeping his emotions in check in order to do this survival-crucial thing, especially when HAL starts singing "Daisy, Daisy". It's subtle, but it's there.

It was also neat to hear Dullea tell how his idea for the transitions between the advancing ages of his character in the final scenes was accepted by Kubrick.
posted by Philofacts at 8:37 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was also neat to hear Dullea tell how his idea for the transitions between the advancing ages of his character in the final scenes was accepted by Kubrick.

You hear a lot of stories like that when actors talk about working on Kubrick films. He has this reputation as a tyrant but so many of the iconic images and lines from his movies where create in collaboration with the actors. Nicholson came up with "Here's Johnny" and Ermey came up with a lot of his lines in Full Metal Jacket including the "reach around" one. Also it was Malcolm McDowell who suggested "Singing in the Rain".
posted by octothorpe at 9:21 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, how did she get tapped for this?

Paglia seems to have been, for lack of a better word, a media whore: that is, she made herself available for any sort of talking-head or pullquote situation that might even vaguely touch on popular culture or sexual politics, and she made sure that what she said would be easily boiled down into a sound bite that would provoke the maximum response.

Many bookers are lazy and many have very little money to work with, and so having a published author, a recognizable name, someone practically guaranteed to say something outrageous and someone willing to work cheap all in the same package made Paglia attractive for the talking head role for a while. Later on, when she started spewing only illogical and antisocial blather, and, more to the point, when watchers and readers started going, "Oh, Christ, not her again," she thankfully fell out of style.

Foisting Paglia on the world is yet another thing Andrew Sullivan needs to atone for.

Her comments on 2001 are mostly nonsense, giving the impression she didn't even bother to review the film before shifting into "expound" mode.
posted by La Cieca at 9:47 AM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jupiter didn't get more massive

Where did the monoliths go?
posted by pashdown


Okay , it got more massive by the mass if the monoliths. I think people looking for a straightforward, literal idea of how the monoliths made Jupiter a star should consider the idea that they're supposed to be otherworldly non-corporal technology that we can't understand.

Jupiter becoming as massive as even the smallest star would not only likely destroy Earth but also Europa, which what defeat the whole point of making Jupiter a star. The monoliths must be employing some degree of technology that allows Jupiter to function as a star without the minimum required stellar mass in normal situations.
posted by spaltavian at 10:42 AM on August 5, 2012


In 2010 Jupiter's mass could not be changed without destroying the solar system; in the book Clarke made it pretty clear that the monoliths were processing Jupiter's atmosphere into heavier elements (presumably in large measure monolith bodies) which would pack more tightly with less gravitational force to squeeze them together. I have no idea myself whether this would actually work but hey aliens.
posted by localroger at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2012


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