Kubrick's Lost Prologue, Beyond 2001

01 2018

Craig Burston and myself were asked by Patrick McGrady to create a concept for a film that visualised an interview Kubrick made with a scientist for his film 2001.

The project was inspired by the unseen documentary prologue that Kubrick planned to include in his final cut of 2001. He shot interviews with around 20 leading scientists, philosophers, theologians and astronomers and cut these into a short (6 – 7 minute) prologue that he intended to include at the beginning of the film. The interviewees talked about some of the central themes and ideas explored in the film, such as the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life, and how its discovery might impact on human civilisation.

As late as March 1968, the film was screened with this material included at the front, although the final version we know today had this section removed. All the film footage from the interviews has since disappeared.

A series of films were made to explore a different way of visualising the ideas expressed in the interviews: from the literal to the metaphorical. The aim of the project was to explore different ways of visualising abstraction, the intangible, the past or the absent.

The film used a transcript by Francis J. Hayden, Professor of Astronomy. The type face was Sentient THD, created by Tim Hutchinson from the screens HAL, the AI in 2001, used to relay information on the space craft in the film. A minimal approach was used to display only particular information alongside the audio track. Identifying key phrases and how they might be interpreted by an AI let to the choice. The film itself used a colour scheme from HALs computer interface and involved a re-filming process to create the look/feel of the monitors.

Credits:

Patrick McGrady - original concept and sound
Craig Burston - concept work
Alistair McClymont - concept and animation
Tim Hutchinson - type face design

Beyond 2001: New Horizons