Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Live-tweeting 2001

For reasons I find difficult to articulate, even to myself, Sommer Browning (fellow Denverite, Birds LLC poet, and comrade in comedy) and I are planning to "live-tweet" Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey this Sunday night at 7 p.m. Mountain Time (9 p.m. Eastern). It's not going to be on TV or anything; we're just going to rent it and watch it and tweet about it. (It's no coincidence that "MST" stands for both Mountain Standard Time and Mystery Science Theater! Unfortunately, we're currently on Daylight Saving Time.) If you have this movie in your arsenal or can get access to it, you should join us! We'll be using the (updated) hashtag #2k1. My Twitter handle is @egabbert and Sommer's is (wait for it) @vagtalk. Also joining us will be Dan Boehl, Dan Magers and ________?

By the way, I saw this movie for the first time earlier this year, and if you've never seen it, WOW. You really should. I was culturally illiterate for too long.


  1. i've seen it like 6 or 8 times and i still can't think of what i'll say about it

  2. The Odyssey tweet sounds like great fun. I unfortunately won't be able to join -- apart from the fact that I don't have a Twitter account (which would be simple enough to remedy), I also don't currently have a DVD player, when I watch DVD's I watch them on my computer (on Windows Media Player), and watching the movie could become problematic or at least complicated if I'm tweeting at the same time. Plus I've been having a glitch on my computer where Media Player sometimes doesn't "respond" if I have my web browser up, and the only remedy I've found is to shut down everything and do a computer restart. Yadda yadda...

    I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey sometime during the year it came out (I'm thinking it would have been late 1968, after it was released widely). I was 14 at the time. I liked it, even though I felt I didn't follow what was going on in some parts of it -- it seemed mysterious to me, though not incomprehensible.

    Sometime three or four years later I read Arthur Clarke's novel (which he wrote more or less at the same time that he and Stanley Kubrick were working on the film), and the novel contains more background and explanation, and I liked it too.

    It can be difficult to imagine just how stunning a work it was at the time it first came out. One of the most highly visual films ever made, relatively little dialogue (and no spoken dialogue at all during the opening and closing sections, unless you count animal noises), only the barest thread of a plot, ground-breaking special effects, and -- well -- a warning about what you can happen if you let computers be in charge of too much.

    A film about the first human contact with extraterrestrial life, in which you never see the extraterrestrials.

    A number of years ago (must have been in the 1980's sometime), Walter Cronkite interviewed Arthur Clarke, and did a news feature about him, for a weekly show Cronkite was doing about science and technology. Cronkite asked Clarke about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, was it possible, what kind of life might it be?

    Clarke said that as likely as not, whatever extraterrestrial life was out there, we humans wouldn't be able to comprehend it or what it was capable of. Clarke gave this analogy:

    Suppose, he said, that on the earth a sentient, technologically intelligent species of life had involved, that lived entirely underwater, before any kind of animal life had yet lived on dry land. (Talking vastly prehistoric times here.) Underwater cities, underwater means of travel, art, literature, language, mathematics.

    Then, said Clarke, suppose that one day the first of the creatures evolved that was capable of breathing air directly (instead of breathing through water). The first sentient, technological lungfish, if you will. And that creature emerges from the water out into the air, onto the land.

    And as it looked around, a world of possibilities would begin occurring to it, amazing stuff, sciences and technologies we humans would never conceive of, a vast new world of potential --

    But, said Clarke, it wouldn't have thought of fire.

    1. The special effects definitely blew me away.

  3. It's about tools--how we began using tools, how sophisticated our tools will become, & how we'll eventually grow out of our need for tools (ha!). It starts with monkeymen brawling around the watering hole, & one with a high cranial capacity deciding to bludgeon the ur-Crips with the jawbone of a saber-toothed tiger or something. So that's the first tool, & the triumphant monkeyman hurls his weapon to the sky, where it's transfigured into a futuristic spaceship, and you hear The Blue Danube, etc. The spaceship is what tools will one day become. I read somewhere that Jerry Goldsmith wrote a whole score for the film & even came to opening night expecting to hear his music. Imagine his chagrin when he heard the famous strains of Richard Strauss! Kubrick used Ligeti's Requiem to great effect near the end, too. And I love how Kubrick used Ligeti's Musica Ricertata in both The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut.

    1. I thought the whole monkey section was pretty ridiculous, honestly.

  4. Oops, you're right, Matt. I think Goldsmith did Alien.

    I ALWAYS think of the monkey section when I hear The Stones' "Monkey Man."

  5. Jerry Goldsmith did some kind of work later, though, with alex north's score, I think Goldsmith produced a recording of it. Or something like that.

    According to the Wikipedia article about the movie, alex north didn't find out that his music had been replaced until he saw the movie at the premier.

    There's a lot of fascinating background info about the movie in the Wiki article.