Universe
January 28, 2019 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Universe, a Short Documentary from 1960 that Inspired Kubrick’s 2001: "In 1960, the National Film Board of Canada released a short documentary called Universe. The film follows the work of astronomer Donald MacRae at an observatory in Ontario, which is accompanied a special effects-heavy tour of the solar system, galaxy, and universe: 'a vast, awe-inspiring picture of the universe as it would appear to a voyager through space'. Universe was nominated for an Oscar in 1961 and also caught the eye of Stanley Kubrick, who used it as inspiration for 2001: A Space Odyssey."

Watch Oscar-Nominated Documentary Universe, the Film that Inspired the Visual Effects of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 and Gave the HAL 9000 Computer Its Voice (1960): Kubrick also hired Universe’s narrator, Douglas Rain, the Canadian actor who passed away this past November but who will live on indefinitely into the future as the chilling, affectless voice of the HAL 9000 computer, ancestor of Siri, Alexa, and the many voices of GPS systems everywhere. Hear Rain’s cool, detached narration in Universe, above, and see why this extraordinary film—with the Richard Strauss-like pounding tympani of Eldon Rathburn’s score—would have inspired Kubrick to make what may rank as the most mesmerizingly cinematic, dramatically compelling, of science fiction space films to this day.

Direct links to the film (27 minutes):

Universe, by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low (NFB website)

Universe, via NFB on Youtube
posted by mandolin conspiracy (8 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
So cool - thanks for posting!
posted by parki at 4:20 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Thank the Universe for the National Film Board of Canada. Thank the National Film Board of Canada for Universe.

This is absolutely gorgeous and reminds me how much I miss the old future.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:32 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Did anyone else hold their breath when he opened the mirror and then walked along the trusses of the telescope?
posted by lharmon at 6:21 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Not just personnel were 'borrowed' from that film. Quite a few shots in Universe look an awful lot like what ended up on screen for 2001. (50+ year old) Canadian taxpayer dollars at work!
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:11 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Between the intro's music and its visuals, I fully expected the camera to stop and tilt down to reveal Lord Vader's flagship. Great find; thanks for sharing.
posted by the sobsister at 7:15 PM on January 28


I could also see this as an inspiration for the opening and closing credits of The Outer Limits. "We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity" brought up an image of the moon. The closing credits used pictures of nebula and galaxies. There were also some similarity of music and narration.
posted by rochrobbb at 4:04 AM on January 29


The future is not what it used to be.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:30 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


A very fine film on it's own. I'd think the b&w cinematography also caught his eye. I liked seeing those old blurry planet photos which populated the textbooks and encyclopedias from my youth. The telescope was a giant and graceful machine, like Kubrick's tech effects. And we just learned Jupiter has what, 79 moons? Nice find, enjoyed watching it.

We didn't even have decent photos of Mars until 1965.
posted by Mr.Pointy at 8:31 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


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