OBJET D’EMPTY ART
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was a huge commercial success because it was hugely enigmatic. Millions loved trying to figure out what the specifics of the “profound” script meant, like what the monolith stood for; why Hal went dirty on us; and what the embryonic baby at the conclusion signified. Late 60s potheads will remember that the movie’s expensive nincompoopery often became a party game: a fat take-home joint for the best plot analysis. It was enjoyed for other reasons too: the staging was immense-looking (as opposed to being immense) and projected through the seamless ; things were comically, surpassingly spotless and tidy; there was a lulling cheekiness about using classical music to support the equally lulling ambiance; with the exception of the light show-head trip (with its nubulae and galaxies that could only be imagined before Hubble’s telescopic eye) and the poor replication of stars, the special effects and miniatures were intriguingly subdued and polished; and women got off in a big way on Gary Lockwood’s legs. Arguably Kubrick’s direction has its high point in the “Dawn of Man” sequence, which looks to have some of the most magnificent mural-like shots ever caught on film and were front-projected as the background for the “apes” in a studio. (Such minute attention to the actors mimicking apes that one can’t really detect clumsy or even serious errors. Maybe the darting eyes? But purists would argue that Daniel Richter, as MoonWatcher the ape, deserves most of the credit, since he “choreographed” the entire sequence.) Many criticized Kubrick for all this, for making a Super Panavision objet d’empty art, reaching its zenith in the French provincial bedroom with its largeness, paintings and lighted white floor. 2001 is slumberous sci-fi—Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark joining imaginations to make a safe, spacey nothingness that in effect puts each other’s smarts to sleep. But even the skeptics, after seeing the sequel 2010, will thank them for not spelling things out. A one-man show written, produced, directed and photographed by Peter Hyams, 2010 idiotically awakens the dormant qualities of the original. The elucidation of what those “specifics” mean becomes a form of over-expressed tomfoolery. When God speaks in 2010, only Hyams is listening. Filmed in Super Panavision 70. (Opening 4/11/1968 at the Cinestage, running 36 weeks.)
Oscar win: best special effects. Oscar nominations: best director, original screenplay, best art/set direction.
ROLL OVER IMAGE
Text COPYRIGHT © 2000 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.