‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is considered one of the absolute classics of audiovisual science fiction, a reflection of the time that was shot, but also a film that transcended the genre, as the director of ‘The Shining’ or ‘A Clockwork Orange’ did so many times with other pieces of his filmography. Since it was released, performances, rehearsals, studies about its message and Kubrick’s intentions have followed.
Although it doesn’t happen always, often it is the creators of the works themselves who have the tools to decipher their most enigmatic proposals, and in-depth interviews are perfect for that. Kubrick made one for Playboy in 1968, with just released ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, where he addressed issues related to both the meaning of the film and the reception it was having.
‘2001: Flashes in the Dark’ is a TCM-produced piece that now comes to HBO Max and that recreates that interview. Are twenty minutes of animation that serve, among other things, to visualize the most abstract passages of the talk, and which takes place in the real words of journalist Eric Norden (played by Peter Prukl) and Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is played by none other than Keir Dullea, who played the starring astronaut in the original version of ‘2001’.
A very simple staging and a correct digital animation introduces us to the two interlocutors in a cozy room, where they exchange impressions about the film at the time of its release. An approach to the classic, of course, not in depth or definitive, but certainly refreshing, since Kubrick’s own words shed more light on its meanings than all the conjectures that someone outside the production can make.
Flashes of brilliance
The person in charge of this curious experiment is Pedro González Bermúdez, an award-winning documentary director, awarded a Goya for the best short documentary, and who has to his credit such interesting pieces about cinema as’ Arrebatados. Remembering Iván Zulueta ‘,’ Return to Viridiana ‘,’ Nostromo: David Lean’s Impossible Dream ‘or’ Peckinpah Suite ‘. His latest film, in fact, is also about Kubrick: ‘The forbidden orange’, released last October, speaks of the eventful process of distribution of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in Spain due to the censorship of the Dictatorship.
González Bermúdez chooses the moments of the interview with care so that they alternate, and dialogue with each other, the most mundane aspects of exploitation of the film (the terrible reception of the critics of the time and the reaction of Kubrick, a tug of war of intellectual forces that I would already give for another documentary) with decidedly abstract talks about man and his place in the cosmos. The evocative soundtrack to Remate and Wild Honey accompany animated snippets from Spanish studies such as bmice that help visualize Kubrick’s fascinating reflections, such as the conjecture about alien species that could be considered quasi-divinities.
‘2001: Glimpses in the Dark’ is a perfect complement to a revision of the Kubrick film. They are surprising for their naivety, and at the same time, brilliance, some reflections on how they imagined in 1968 that the technological advances of society in 2001 would be. But it is also astonishing that Kubrick predicted with such precision the crucial role that leisure and its industry were to play in our lives.
And as, The vision that Kubrick had of the role of the spectator as an interpreter of the works is very interesting. Once finished with it, the author has done everything he had to do, and it is the receiver’s turn to interpret it and make it his own, and there are no wrong options in that interaction of the viewer, there is no “misunderstanding” a film. One wonders what Kubrick would think of an internet full of videos that explain what the end of the films mean, or that reel off each and every one of the winks of a film. Possibly he would write a movie about everything in which ‘2001’ was not right.