Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RIP Arthur C. Clarke

It's rough when my blog becomes a morgue, but the death of the 90-year-old coauthor of 2001: A Space Odyssey (and much else on his own) requires some commemoration. My dad took me to see a reissue presentation of the film, 40 years timeless this year, when I was seven or eight; I was intrigued, but recall dozing. It's kept me awake many viewings since, some just for a scene or two when it pops up on TV. I took Lora to see it in late 2006; the solarization-type effects, groundbreaking for their time, were pretty dated and slowed the pace, but the exploits of HAL and its wry observation of a future both near to and far away from our actual experience held fast. Kubrick's earthbound pictures are colder toward humankind than this one. (And I always get a good laugh when I do my "Daisy...Daisy" shtick when something breaks down or goes awry; it's one of those movie gags everyone gets, as 2001 is one of those movies that everyone sees, or should see.)

To say that 2001 was influential is an understatement. I see There Will Be Blood as an extended riff on its Dawn of Man sequence, with Daniel Day-Lewis as a man-ape negotiating the muck and mire before descending to homicidal fury. I can picture Clarke and Kubrick ensconced at the Chelsea Hotel, where they developed the script, 45 years ago, painstakingly gestating a genuinely revolutionary film that continues to echo.

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