The tune of 2001: An Area Odyssey is justifiably well-known. The studio hated it.
The tune of 2001: An Area Odyssey is justifiably well-known. The studio hated it.

even if you haven ’t seen 2001: An Area Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick ’s mind-melting 1968 science fiction epic, which turns 50 this month, you probably recognize at least one thing approximately it. It ’s one in every of the ones movies, like Star Wars or Citizen Kane, that has change into so completely dissolved into our pop culture that you just ’ll have heard of the villainous computer HAL or recognise the famed song cue (Richard Strauss ’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”) that performs over its most indelible photographs.

However how have been those moments created? the tale of 2001 is the tale of an almost obsessive consideration to detail, of a budget that virtually totally destroyed the film ’s studio, of an initial wave of terrible opinions that would have killed a lesser film. At each step of the way in which along its manufacturing procedure (and even after its release), 2001 is an enchanting instance of giant-time moviemaking long past right.

For the most recent episode of my podcast, I Think You ’re Fascinating, I talked with author Michael Benson, whose new e-book, House Odyssey, is perhaps the most complete glance ever on the making of the movie. Benson talked with me in regards to the development of five of the movie ’s most enduring parts, and we started with that soundtrack filled with classical song.

in many tactics, the tale of ways Kubrick discovered the score of his film is the film in a nutshell, with some of his colleagues right away getting what Kubrick used to be going for and others being pushed so laborious via the person that they eventually buckled. Certainly, several composers were employed to write down an authentic score for 2001, but Kubrick eventually discarded those contributions in favor of his classical song “transient” tracks.

The component of my dialogue with Benson in regards to the tune of the movie, lightly edited for duration and clarity, follows.

Todd VanDerWerff

i want to start out with the most famous track cue within the movie, the [Richard] Strauss, which performs over the daybreak.

Michael Benson

The Outlet series with the solar rising over the Earth and the moon. It ’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” It ’s regarding the Nietzsche philosophical novel [Also Sprach Zarathustra]. However that may be more or less the signature track.

However there are others. if truth be told, the track of György Ligeti, the Hungarian avant-garde composer — that movie would not be remotely the similar if Kubrick hadn ’t stumbled on, via his spouse and visual effects designer Con Pederson ’s spouse, this Ligeti tune. Christiane Kubrick and Con ’s wife Charleen Pederson were operating in combination making sculptures of aliens for Stanley. We ’re talking now fall of ’SIXTY SEVEN. They had been taking note of the BBC and on got here this music, which was so unearthly and spooky and strong and majestic that they in an instant needed to find out what it used to be.

They waited till the host of the program mentioned, “this is Ligeti.” but it took Kubrick weeks to listen to the piece as a result of Ligeti used to be nearly utterly unknown then. I do have in the ebook a sequence of reports approximately how the tune that was used got here into the movie and what roughly discussions surrounded it.

Todd VanDerWerff

What was fascinating to me used to be Kubrick went thru, like, four composers who were going to write authentic music for the movie, after which in the end he was like, “i really like my temp tracks higher.” Inform me a little bit approximately that process.

Michael Benson

The initial composer, Frank Cordell, was an English composer who had in reality established a observe report scoring more than a few films within the UK. He was once brought about within the starting. But Kubrick didn ’t recognise what he wanted. Cordell was brought about and given a freelance and given pay however no longer given get right of entry to to Stanley, who didn ’t want to talk to him. So it was once very ordinary.

In Spite Of Everything, when he did get a chance to speak to Stanley, Stanley stated, “Well, i love Gustav Mahler ’s symphony,” which also refers to Therefore Spake Zarathustra. … but it just didn ’t work out with Cordell. Meanwhile, Kubrick was coming near quite a lot of other folks whose taste he valued, and one of the people was once Jan Harlan, that is his brother-in-legislation, and asking for recommendation. It was once a very circuitous path to the ones temp tracks.

When he used to be finally cutting the film, he began laying in this song that he ’d been gathering throughout post or even all over manufacturing. He would watch the rushes and listen to music. actually, one of the important thing catalysts used to be, whilst the MGM head brass flew in from L. A. and from Big Apple, Tony Frewin Kubrick ’s assistant on the film, who was once 19 years antique, the week ahead of the MGM brass flew in, Kubrick said, “Tony, get petty cash. Get this much cash and move buy all of the classical song you’ll be able to in finding downtown.”

Frewin couldn ’t consider his good fortune because the amount of cash he were given was once enough to shop for the shop. He took an MGM station wagon downtown and back. He stated he used to be involved the police might pull him over as it was sagging from all of the vinyl inside of. They sat there that weekend and for days in a while, and Kubrick might sit down there and hand him a document, and Tony might placed it on the turntable, and so they may take heed to the beginning of every observe for a period of time.

So then in the end, in reality past due in the story, we ’re talking the tip of ’SIXTY SEVEN, the studio didn’t wish to listen about temp tracks for a large-funds Hollywood Cinerama unlock. That was simply no longer performed because you couldn ’t unlock those things without an authentic ranking.

Todd VanDerWerff

That used to be part of the enchantment for the audience to come in and listen to the new, original track.

Michael Benson

The Whole Thing new, the whole thing authentic, precisely.

in order that they burdened him, essentially, to hire a composer, and he selected Alex North, whom he had worked with on Spartacus. And Alex North is still a well-recognized Hollywood composer. He did a host of other ratings, and won awards, and so forth. At The Beginning, whilst he heard that Kubrick sought after him on, he was once pleased because he understood that there was 40 minutes of dialogue in a two-and-a-part-hour film, and he naively idea, “Oh, that suggests i’ve a clean canvas. i will be able to do what i want.”

2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick (right), works with actors Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea at the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Dmitri Kessel/The EXISTENCE Image Collection/Getty Photographs

but it surely didn ’t in reality figure out that means. Kubrick mentioned at their first assembly that he desired to hold on to some of the temp tracks. Alex North persuaded Stanley Kubrick that he may do it, substitute the temp tracks with subject matter that might be identical in temper or spirit or what have you, however he was once competing against a few of the masterworks of the canon!

He did report a score. He almost had a anxious breakdown doing it because of all of the force. in truth, he was once in a health facility mattress on wheels that used to be rolled into the recording classes as a result of he had muscle spasms in his again from all of the pressure. He recorded a score that a lot of people say was truly superb.

Kubrick didn ’t like it. He didn ’t tell North that he didn ’t use any of it. North came to the most fulfilling in Ny and was once completely shocked and humiliated that now not one piece of his song had been used.

Todd VanDerWerff

Do you already know if any of that composed music survived?

Michael Benson

It was once launched for the primary time a couple of years in the past. I put out of your mind the label, but it surely is available in the market. should you Google “Alex North 2001 rating,” you ’ll discover a technique to get it. In fact, you can listen to the score on Spotify.

for thus much more with Benson on some of the movie ’s different iconic moments and images, besides as a discussion with Vox movie critic Alissa Wilkinson approximately 2001 ’s lasting legacy, check out the full episode.

to listen to extra interviews with attention-grabbing folks from the world of arts and culture — from tough showrunners to internet collection creators to documentary filmmakers — take a look at the I Think You ’re Fascinating files.


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