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8 facts about Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

 June 29, 2021

By  BC Editorial Team

Since“Interstellar”, the SciFi classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” from 1968 has been still being hotly debated. So that you can have your say, here are eight facts about Stanley Kubrick’s film. Before we start, here is a bonus fact: did you know there are many games of slots that have been inspired by this movie?

1. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is based in part on Arthur C. Clark’s short story “The Sentinal” (1951). Together with Stanley Kubrik, the author expanded the story into a novel while the two worked on the script for the film. One of the working titles was “Journey to the Stars”. However, when “Fantastic Voyage” (US 1966) premiered, Stanley Kubrick hated the film so much that he did not want it to have a similar title. In the end, the choice fell on “2001: A Space Odyssey” because it is the first year of the 21st century and the beginning of the third millennium.

2. Kubrik hated to fly. So he sent the second unit crew to Africa for the scene “The Morning of Mankind”. She took all the landscape photos there and communicated with Kubrick by phone to take the pictures he wanted. The so-called Dawn of Man scene is a great example of glass plate photography and front projection. In contrast to the rear projection, the background shot in Africa was not projected from behind, but from the front onto a highly reflective screen, in front of which the monkey actors played while the film was being filmed. Stuart Freeborn initially created a primitive but human-like make-up for the great apes, but this meant that the early humans could not be photographed in full size without the MPAA (responsible for age recommendation) censoring the film because they were naked. So Kubrick took the monkey variant instead. Except for two baby chimpanzees, all the monkeys were played by humans in costume.

3. Stanley Kubrick was known for his perfectionism and had settings repeated very often. In “2001: A Space Odyssey” Kubrick also took up to 50 Polaroid images to find the perfect light. It could take hours. No wonder all of the footage is 200 times longer than the final film. Kubrick overshot the total budget by $ 4.5 million (instead of the estimated $ 6 million) and took 16 months longer to film. Nevertheless, the film is one of the works that have decisively shaped the vocabulary of the film language and paved the way for SciFi blockbusters like Star Wars.

4. The special effects are all made physically, chemically, and mechanically. To represent the spaceship and the lack of a top and bottom as realistically as possible, a gigantic centrifuge was built in England by the aircraft company Vickers Armstrong. It weighed about 30 tons and was twelve meters high. Cost $ 750,000. Due to the special technology in the film, it seems as if the actors could go up the walls.

This effect is created by the fact that the camera moves with the centrifuge while the actors remain in place. Sometimes the recordings were so complicated that sequences of a few seconds took several days to complete. Leading actor Dullea compared the centrifuge to a gigantic hamster wheel, locked, with spotlights on the outside. Amazingly, the finished film only contains 205 special effects settings.

In comparison: “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” had 350 settings and “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” had over 2,200 special effects settings. “2001: A Space Odyssey” won a single Oscar for the best special effects. All credits went to Kubrick, who annoyed the technicians who had been working on the film. Kubrick himself was not present during the award ceremony.

5. Production designer Tony Masters and special photographic effects supervisor Dough Trumbull created all models from the sketches of production designer Harry Lange. Lange came from NASA and its designs required a safety review by the CIA. In order to satisfy Kubrick’s desire for perfection, it took the artist six months to draw. The production design team with Masters, Lange, and Ernest Archer won the Best Art Direction Award and BAFTA.

6. The moon set was built at Pinewood Studios. To do this, you actually dug up the soil and then poured it back in again later. Kubrick had various types and colors of sand imported for the face of the moon. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is the last film before the moon landing, which conspiracy theorists do not consider to be a coincidence.

7. Stanley Kubrick received scientific advice from former NASA employee Fred Ordway and provided him with the latest information and findings. During the almost six months of pre-production planning and design work, six large space vehicles were created: the Orion III Earth-to-Orbit Shuttle, Space Station V in orbit of the Earth, the Aries IB Earth-orbit-to-lunar Surface Shuttle, the Rocket Bus, which transports people and material from one part of the moon to another, the giant interplanetary spacecraft Discovery and its small auxiliary jet spacecraft for maintenance and local exploration.

Each of these vehicles was carefully designed so that they could look completely realistic. The designers insisted on working out the purpose and functions of each component, right down to the logical labeling of each button and the plausible display of operations, analyzes, and other data on the screens. In the implementation of this work, they were advised by NASA, companies, and universities.

8. Anyone who is an attentive chess player can spot a mistake in the moves during Poole’s chess scene with HAL. Stanley, himself a chess lover who loved to play in Washington Square Park, is said to have made a mistake in the film to see if anyone would notice.

BC Editorial Team


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