Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson

Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director and 2001: A Space Odyssey is my favorite movie. That was reason enough to read this detailed account of its creation. The book was interesting enough to keep reading, but it wasn’t really worthwhile. I already knew Kubrick was creative and intense. There were some interesting facts about ways the movie might have been different and why certain choices were made. The main thing I learned was how important Kubrick’s many collaborators were (it’s apparently true that it’s a “collaborative medium”). But there was also too much about Arthur C. Clarke, his personal life and the process of writing the novel that went with the movie. I also found the technical descriptions of various parts of the production hard to follow. What the book mainly did was make me want to watch 2001 again. Maybe I’ll see it somewhat differently now that I know more about the effort that went into making it. It might be dangerous if I see it too differently.

Kubrick and Sellers Collaborate for the Second Time

Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers first worked together on Lolita. According to Wikipedia, Columbia Pictures demanded that Sellers play four roles in Dr. Stangelove: the title character, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Major T. J. “King” Kong, the B-52 pilot eventually played by Slim Pickens. 

Sellers died from a heart attack at age 54. His last movie was the classic Being There, which looked and sounded like a Stanley Kubrick movie, although it wasn’t. Kubrick died at the age of 70 after he made Eyes Wide Shut, not one of his best but still worth watching, as all his films were.

Sellers was great and died too young. But off hand I can’t think of any artist whose death was as much of a loss as Kubrick’s, even though he’d already had a long career. 

These are two of my favorite scenes. The first is Group Captain Mandrake with Keenan Wynn as the wary Colonel Bat Guano (“if that really is your name”). The second features President Muffley on the phone while Peter Bull as the Russian ambassador and George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson make faces. 

(Now, back to writing “A Guide To Reality, Part 10”.)

Revisiting the Overlook Hotel, Again and Again

Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director. Like Roberto Clemente, John Lennon, Andy Kaufman and many others, Kubrick died too young – even though he was 70 when he finished his last movie.

If you’re a Kubrick fan, or if you love what he did with The Shining, or if you enjoy a good cultural mystery, or if you are a student of human psychology, you should consider watching a documentary called Room 237

Did you know that people have spent a whole lot of time looking for hidden meanings in The ShiningDid you realize that there are 42 cars and trucks in the parking lot of the fictional Overlook Hotel? Have you ever thought about watching The Shining backwards and forwards at the same time? Have you pondered the possibility that the astronauts bounding around on the moon were actors in a government-sponsored, made-for-TV movie directed by Stanley Kubrick, who later used The Shining to spill the beans? 

Room 237 covers all this and more. Even if you don’t find any of the theories convincing, the clips from Kubrick’s movies and many others are fun to watch. It’s a documentary that will make you laugh and also make you think.

And remember, whatever you do, stay out of room 237.