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The Making Of Kubrick's 2001
May 27, 2013 8:23 AM   Subscribe

There have been countless words written about Stanley Kubrick’s visionary masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey — some good, some bad — but after 45 years, this superb book remains the only one you’ll ever really need. It is such a shame that this book is out-of-print. It is filled with everything you ever wanted to know about 2001. It leads off with Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and closes with a complete reprint of Stanley Kubrick’s interview with Playboy magazine. In between are profiles, interviews with technical advisors, effects secrets revealed, letters to Stanley from the moviegoing public, as well as reviews of the film, both good and bad. A fascinating snapshot of a moment in history when the world was caught off guard by a motion picture. Search your local used book stores, like I did. If you’re a Kubrick fan, it’s worth the effort.
Long out of print, The Making Of Kubrick's 2001 (edited by Jerome Agel, known for his work coördinating McLuhan's The Medium Is The Massage and his coauthoring of Buckminister Fuller's I Seem To Be A Verb) is now available to read online, thanks to Cinephilia and Beyond.
posted by hippybear (53 comments total) 95 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone have a non scribd link?
posted by thelonius at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2013


Neat. I have a dog-eared copy somewhere in a box in the garage.
posted by octothorpe at 8:41 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What gets me is how the miniature effects *still* look great.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:43 AM on May 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, wow, this is cool.

I remember picking up this book in my grandparents' house, in my uncle's old room, where he had lived while attending college. I don't know what happened to the book, and I've always wanted to read it again.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:48 AM on May 27, 2013


I had a copy of this. It disappeared in some move or other. *cries*
posted by maudlin at 9:10 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my all-time favorite MAD quotes:
"You can't throw UP! We're in zero gravity!"
"Well- how about throw OUT?"
posted by MtDewd at 9:11 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


A great companion to this book is Clarke's The Lost Worlds of 2001, which is a wonderful writer's perspective on the creation of the film, with drafts and correspondence and other notes along the way.
posted by sonascope at 9:12 AM on May 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is awesome, but does anyone know how to download it without joining Facebook or scribd?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:23 AM on May 27, 2013


fyi: One person at a time can check out the scanned version of this book via openlibrary.
posted by brewsterkahle at 9:28 AM on May 27, 2013


without joining Facebook or scribd

Here's how to get around that: click "sign up"; for email address, choose (pound keyboard randomly)@mailinator.com, for username choose (pound keyboard randomly), for password choose (pound keyboard randomly), now download document.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I need to retire to keep up with this place. Awesome find.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:37 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a copy of this. It disappeared in some move or other. *cries*

They say, whoever they are, that 5 moves = 1 house fire. I was just lamenting all the model railroad stuff I had as a kid that disappeared without a trace during The Peregrinations.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:40 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]




*Adds favourite and jumps up and down screaming "Oh Yay"*


still sheds an occasional tear for the "lost in moves" artefacts of one life lived...
posted by infini at 10:07 AM on May 27, 2013


Yeah, I have a copy of that too, it's fantastic. Check out one of my favorite bits, on page 171 is a letter to Stanley Kubrick:

I am enclosing my four ticket stubs. I would like my money returned, if for no other reason than as an apology for boring the life out of my family and myself for three hours. When will you learn what the public, that you are always screaming about, has known for years. You cannot cover up mediocrity with obscurity.

Mrs. Patricia Attard
Denver


Then it shows a photocopy of four ticket stubs from the Cooper Theatre in Denver. Holy crap, I've seen movies in the Cooper Theatre before it was demolished, it was one of the greatest Cinerama theaters, and one of the peak moviegoing experiences you could have. I would give just about anything to have seen 2001 at the Cooper in Cinerama.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2013


My older brother had this book back in the 70s. I read it over and over, so when I finally saw the film on its re-release in 1980, I knew all about it: the narrative, the dialog, how all the special effects were done, everything. In other words, maximum spoilers. I was still blown away by the cinematic experience.

To me, 2001 is one of the few pure science fiction movies. Most other "sci-fi" films tell stories that could just as easily be told in other genres. You can imagine the pitches: "High Noon in space," "Wagon Train in space," "Casablanca in space," etc. But 2001 can be told only as science fiction.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


When was Kubrick ever "screaming" about "the public"? I think this guy saw the wrong movie.
posted by thelonius at 10:38 AM on May 27, 2013


Oh my gosh, I've wanted to read this for ever! Thank you so much, hippybear!
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:00 AM on May 27, 2013


Copyright Basics

Given the recent changes in copyright laws, I am not sure if the Scribd link is cool or not. Someone with a better handle on it can clarify I hope.

Given that it is available for sale in many places, I have to wonder.
posted by lampshade at 11:07 AM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Given that I'll still keep a look out for it in used book stores, even more so once I've read it and want to own it....
posted by infini at 11:20 AM on May 27, 2013


Wait, the Cooper was demolished? Now I am sad.
Moved away in the 80 's, and didn't know it was gone.
I saw 2001 at least twice there (first tome on LSD, so I had to go back for more, if not better, comprehension).
I also got to see Yellow Sumarine at the Cooper! At the time, I thought it was better...
posted by dbmcd at 12:26 PM on May 27, 2013


I've previously recommended the Cinefex special issue on the making of the special effects of 2001 (issue 85, released in 2001), and will recommend it again. It is an astonishing document, a testament to obsession on the part of pretty much everyone involved. Apparently you can pick up a used copy at Amazon for $2.50. Do.
posted by Hogshead at 12:38 PM on May 27, 2013


A few years ago, I was exceedingly lucky to hear Douglas Trumbull speaking about his career, mostly about his work on the special effects on 2001 A Space Odyssey. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend you go hear him.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:33 PM on May 27, 2013


I especially like this quote from the book (via a recent Daring Fireball post on the same topic):

“I don’t like to talk about 2001 much because it’s essentially a nonverbal experience. Less than half the film has dialogue. It attempts to communicate more to the subconscious and to the feelings than it does to the intellect. I think clearly that there is a basic problem with people who are not paying attention with their eyes. They’re listening. And they don’t get much from listening to this film. Those who won’t believe their eyes won’t be able to appreciate this film.” - Stanley Kubrick.
posted by fairmettle at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need to retire to keep up with this place. Awesome find.

Me too! Metafilter never ceases to amaze me!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:52 PM on May 27, 2013


My favorite quote (being a recent CS graduate) is from pg. 62 (bottom):
"One consultant, for instance, was Professor Marvin Minsky, of M.I.T., who
is a leading who is a leading authority on artificial intelligence and the
construction of automata. (He is now building a robot at M.I.T. that can
catch a ball.) Kubrick wanted to learn from him whether any of the things
that he was planning to have his computers do were likely to be realized by
the year 2001; he was pleased to find out that they were."
posted by aleph at 2:28 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm struck at once by Kubrick's astonishing hubris in some of the quotes on offer, and the fact that he pulled it off.
posted by wotsac at 2:59 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


When our world was half its present age, something from the stars swept through the Solar System, left this token of its passage, and went again upon its way.

One of the most thrilling sentences I ever read. 45 years later it still is.
posted by carping demon at 3:06 PM on May 27, 2013


2001 is what sold me on Blu-Ray. I saw it many years back when I was 8 at the theater at the University here, and I really wasn't able to comprehend it well. I bought it on DVD because, while I didn't understand the movie all that well, I remember it being amazing and terrifying and I needed to see it again. It was all of those and then some and I had to re-watch it several times. Then one day I was wandering Target and the kid in electronics had put the 2001 Blu-Ray in a demo player. It was simply stunning at that quality. My wife had to drag me away after I'd stared at it for several minutes.
posted by azpenguin at 3:22 PM on May 27, 2013


I saw the 2001 70mm restored release at the Castro Theater in SF early in the day of its first release, probably only the 2nd or 3rd time light had been pushed through the print onto a screen. Before movie showings at the Castro Theater, they play the installed mighty Wurlitzer organ and the house lights fade from daylight to twilight, and of course the organist finished up with Also Sprach Zarathustra, with the deep bass pipes of the organ making the audience's internal organs quiver... And then the lights went out and the movie started.

It was as crisp and clear as I could ever hope to see that movie. And it was gigantic, and the sound was intense, and wow, just wow!

(I also had a pot cookie the size of my face that a friend gave me that I nibbled on until it was suddenly gone (!), and it all kicked in right as the final section of the film was starting, and it was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. But I won't go into that here...)
posted by hippybear at 3:38 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


What gets me is how the miniature effects *still* look great.

Pretty much all of Kubrick's movies do. Event Horizon has an Elevator of Blood shot ripped off from The Shining, but The Shining looks 10 times better. My mind pretty much accepts what's happening in 2001 as 'real'.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:19 PM on May 27, 2013



I'm struck at once by Kubrick's astonishing hubris in some of the quotes on offer, and the fact that he pulled it off.


Its not hubris if you're really that good. All of Kubrick's diva behavior and messed up directing techniques are justified by what's on screen.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:20 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, I had The Lost Worlds of 2001, too, but -- well, you can figure out the rest.
posted by maudlin at 4:57 PM on May 27, 2013


I think I still have a copy of this around somewhere. I saw the with my best friend for my 12th birthday, on its original run at the Cinerama in Seattle (thank you, Paul Allen, for keeping this fantastic theater around), and it's still part of my top 5...the greatest spark to my sixth grade imagination ever. I'm downloading this without guilt, in case I can't find the book, because it's almost as good as the movie... Thanks!
posted by lhauser at 6:01 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm struck at once by Kubrick's astonishing hubris in some of the quotes on offer, and the fact that he pulled it off.

I always remembered that quote on page 11, "If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed." I disagree, but then, I'm not a filmmaker and I'm not Stanley Kubrick.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:14 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't believe the moon landing was faked, but I think the conspiracy nuts got one thing right. If the moon landing WAS fake, Kubrick could have faked it.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:18 PM on May 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


My mind pretty much accepts what's happening in 2001 as 'real'.

Exactly. I'd read this book so often that when I finally saw the film (at the Castro, hippybear!), I knew exactly how each special effect was done. The stewardess' 180, her plucking the pen out of mid-air, Poole jogging in the centrifuge, the pod grabbing Poole's body, Bowman's emergency airlock entrance, everything. I forgot all that while I was watching. It was easier to believe that Kubrick had actually taken his cameras into space.

This why 2001 is my favorite special effects movie. The special effects don't look like special effects. They're not there to dazzle you with their technical brilliance. They're there to serve the story. I admire Star Wars, but I love 2001.
posted by ogooglebar at 6:36 PM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I always remembered that quote on page 11, "If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed." I disagree, but then, I'm not a filmmaker and I'm not Stanley Kubrick.

Great example. Coming from most people it would reflect a poverty of imagination. But from Kubrick, it's thrilling.
posted by wotsac at 7:10 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw the 2001 70mm restored release at the Castro Theater in SF early in the day of its first release, probably only the 2nd or 3rd time light had been pushed through the print onto a screen.

I was there too! My partner and I had just moved to San Francisco and he'd never seen it and we both fell in love with both the film (in its full cinematic glory -- speaking of which, the bold colors, wow!) and the theater.

If I recall correctly, there was even an intermission. It happened right after that nail-biting moment when you realize HAL is spying on a conversation between the remaining human characters. According to what I (think I) read at the time, the intermission was part of the original screening experience.
posted by treepour at 11:17 PM on May 27, 2013


Cool, I actually bought this (via abebooks) a few weeks ago. 2nd hand prices varied between £20 and some £600. I paid at the lowest end of the range.

My copy isn't as yellow as the scribd scan but the binding is definitely old, I can't imagine it surviving being repeatedly pressed flat for scanning.
posted by epo at 1:50 AM on May 28, 2013


Brilliant. My friend has a new book coming out about this in a bit, so this is pretty timely.
posted by aesop at 4:17 AM on May 28, 2013


Great example. Coming from most people it would reflect a poverty of imagination. But from Kubrick, it's thrilling.

I often recalled that quote when I would listen to filmmakers (mostly wannabee filmmakers) during my years in Hollywood. Time after time, I heard the same sentiments, in almost exactly the same words, to the point where I figured it must be in the Introduction to Film textbook they all used. "Film is the greatest of all arts, because it can contain all other arts, writing, music, painting, sculpture, dance, blah blah blah." No, sorry, film can contain a visual reference to those arts, but a film is not a painting, nor a dance, nor writing, etc. Some arts like music have adapted to recorded formats and those common representations are more faithfully reproduced in film. But these filmmakers always thought of themselves as artists when they pointed a camera at artists. What arrogance. I thought it was like a brickmaker looking at brick buildings and thinking he was an architect.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:31 AM on May 28, 2013


What arrogance. I thought it was like a brickmaker looking at brick buildings and thinking he was an architect.

Coming on a bit strong, aren't we, old fruit? Consider Kurosawa and Eisenstein...
posted by infini at 11:43 AM on May 28, 2013


They knew how to make film into its own art, they didn't imitate other arts.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:57 PM on May 28, 2013


Kubrick is counted as their peer, imho
posted by infini at 5:04 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The cut from the bone to the space station in 2001 couldn't be done in any other medium. The menace of Danny's Big Wheel rides in The Shining, too.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:04 PM on May 28, 2013


And the book cover shows those 6 frames of film, with the match cut from the bone to the satellite. It's a brilliant, yet simple design, a flat print showing the entire width of the film including the sprocket holes. We see the mechanics of the film itself, how the frames are placed on the strip. And that reminds us that film is a product of technology, this is a book about how that technology was used to produce the movie 2001. We are taking a step back in abstraction.

And yet it's still a movie. When I see just those still images on the cover, it evokes that moment of the movie so perfectly, I feel it like I was sitting there watching it again. So now it appears that book cover design is the ultimate art, because it can contain filmmaking, which can contain all the other arts like music, theater, sculpture, etc. LOL.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:20 PM on May 28, 2013


In my humble opinion, you're conflating technical proficiency with vision, and manifesting that vision in a manner that can be shared while supporting the continued integrity of that vision.

We're all right on this web.
posted by infini at 11:49 PM on May 28, 2013


infini, in some cases, that is the correct way to "conflate" things. Kubrick was a film tech expert. He is legendary for developing advanced technical methods to express a particular vision in filmmaking. Have you heard about how he used Zeiss lenses built for NASA satellites and had them adapted to a cinema camera, so he could shoot scenes for Barry Lyndon solely by candlelight?
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:17 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and by the way, your favorite band sucks.
posted by hippybear at 4:48 AM on May 29, 2013


charlie, that's what I'm saying, you and I are not disagreeing on this point, I"m simply sprinkling a soupcon of vision on the Kubrick creation that you may be implying doesn't exist inherent in his nature.
posted by infini at 7:08 AM on May 29, 2013


if anyone has a chance and hasn't already seen it the Kubrick exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles is amazing. there's tons of 2001 material, as well great bits about all his other films, including the never produced Napoleon epic. and there's a whole case of lenses Kubrick owned and used, and a great video interview with the lens master who worked for Kubrick.
posted by TMezz at 3:15 PM on May 29, 2013


Just noticed that the book is copywritten 1970. That's too late to be a marketing tie-in but too early for it to be thought of as a film classic.
posted by octothorpe at 6:42 AM on June 6, 2013


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