2001: A Space Odyssey

Can you give examples of how he would throw away the studio’s money? How much money would he spend on what whims?

He came from photography where you commonly take 100 pictures and throw away 99 of them to get the very best one. Can’t say it didn’t work for him.

Kubrick asked Scott to do “practice” takes of scenes (Scott played General “Buck” Turgison) in an outrageously over-the-top fashion, just to loosen up, and then filmed the real scenes. When Scott saw the film, he learned that Kubrick had used the practice takes.

The most egregious example was the monolith. He originally wanted the alien artifact to be a crystal pyramid and spent tens of thousands of 1966 dollars on a giant solid lucite set piece. After taking one look, he decided he didn’t like it and had the crew take it away.

The artifact in “The Sentinel” was a pyramid, so that is no doubt why Kubrick started with it. But the monolith used was far, far better, so I don’t think that tossing the pyramid was a waste.
A pyramid in orbit around Jupiter would have been ludicrous. Doing it right more than made the money back for MGM.

Not using the pyramid wasn’t a waste. Actually making the pyramid before deciding not to use it, however…

Not very different from what many photographers do when they tell trick the person they’re photographing into relaxing in front of the camera.

Given that the movie became a classic and made an order of magnitude more money than it cost, it looks like he was right. Would the movie have been better if he’d said: “I spent the money, I better use it now” if it was inferior to the monolith he ended up using? By that point, it was a sunk cost. You might say that he shouldn’t have had it made in the first place but sometimes, you have to actually try something to see if it works and if it doesn’t work, do you plough ahead anyway or try something else? The cost of innovation is that a lot of your attempts will fail and you’ll have to throw them out.

Kubrick came from photography when you can do 100 takes, throw out 99 of them and keep the best one. And that best one can be part of human culture for years, decades or indefinitely, just like 2001 Space Odyssey with its superior monolith. That’s how he proceeded as a director and it evidently worked quite well for him.

I think it was Clarke who said the main reason they ditched the pyramid was because they feared that a lot of viewers would make an association with Egyptian pyramids, and thereby completely misunderstand the scene. Of course, replacing the pyramid with a monolith did not go a long way toward making the scene more understandable.

Or just, plain catch the person off guard. Worked for Churchill and Goebbbels.

However well it works in the end, Kubricks methods still came off dickish. Yes, the film is a masterpiece but it didn’t make it any easier for the folks working with old SK.

Agreed. A genius who was capable of kindness, but often a *very *difficult man to work for.

I always heard that Scott came around or at least got over being upset once the movie was a big hit and his acting was praised. Same place I heard nobody ever told Slim Pickens it was a comedy to get the straight acting out of him. I could just be repeating urban legends though.

Difficult doesn’t describe it. He almost drove Shelley Duvall crazy.

He frequently kept her isolated, cut many of Wendy’s lines and forced her to perform the iconic ‘baseball bat’ scene an exhausting 127 times. The scene entered The Guinness Book of Records as the most takes ever for a scene with spoken dialogue and her shaking hands and red, puffy, eyes are the result of genuine crying. Afterwards she presented the director with clumps of her own hair, to show just how close to the edge she was.

I love all of Kubrick’s movies, including the Shining. In fact, driving over to my brother’s house today I was practicing my bad Nicholson impersonation, doing “Best goddamn bartender from Timbukto to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter.” Walk into the apartment and The Shining is playing on TV! It was only about 5 minutes away from the scene. Cue Twilight Zone music.

But what Kubrick did is inexcusable.

Sounds like BS to me. With lines like “Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas* with all that stuff.” I’m sure a seasoned actor would figure it out.

*Changed from ‘Dallas’ in post after Kennedy’s assassination.

I was awake at 3 am, thinking about surnames connected to archery, such as Fletcher and Armbruster and … Bowman.
Hmm (I thinks further), it’s interesting that in 2001 the first tool/weapon is a bone/club which is thrown into the air for the famous bone/spacehip match cut, and then the human who moves into the next stage of metaphysical development is named for archery.

Because archery is a step beyond clubs.

But wait. The astronaut’s first name is Dave, named after the famous King of Israel who wielded the sling of David. So there’s a progression from club to sling to bow to Starchild!

I don’t know what the deal is with Frank Poole.

“Frank” comes from the word for javelin. “Poole” is sometimes a variation of “Pole”.

Apparently talking softly and being named for two big sticks didn’t work for him.

Death Pool?
I’ll see myself out…

I can go along with that (while also understanding that it’s nonsense). In the Middle Ages the Franks were often synonymous with Western European culture, and even today are associated with France. Frank’s death (and his exit from the gene pool) symbolized the failure of the Western tradition of science and rationality.

Also: Poole is generally thought to refer to a lake or other body of water, but some people think it may derive from Paul of Tarsus - possibly the most influential Christian theologian. So Frank Poole’s death was a double failure of Western culture.

I think that there comes a point where one is reading too much into things. The characters had to have names, after all, and no matter what names Clarke (and Kubrick) chose, we could ask “Why those particular names?”.

Bowman’s name has been much remarked on in 2001 criticism and analysis. Poole’s name though - not so much.

From my post 125 above, as to Michael Benson’s excellent Space Odyssey:

[The author] notes several parallels between Homer’s *Odyssey *and Kubrick’s: Odysseus overcomes a one-eyed monster, the Cyclops, just as Bowman defeats HAL; Bowman’s name recalls Odysseus’s stringing of a bow to shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts, a feat of strength that proved his identity; Odysseus is the sole survivor of his ship, just as Bowman is; Bowman has a homecoming, greatly changed as the Star Child, just as Odysseus returns home to Ithaca at the end of his long journey, greatly changed by all he has experienced.