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Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey by Michel Chion translated by Claudia Gorbman

01/05/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey in the USA - or Buy Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey in the UK

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pub: BFI Publishing/MacMillan. 194 page illustrated enlarged paperback. Price: 16.99 (UK). ISBN: 0-85170-839-0.

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Just when I think I've read most books about '2001: A Space Odyssey' I come across this one in the BFI/MacMillan back catalogue. This isn't by an English writer but by a French one. Nothing against that. Gives a different perspective and Michel Chion's perspective also looks at the pace of the music to the film as well as comparisons to other Kubrick films.

'Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey' was released in 2001 no less and has eleven pages of black and white photos from the film included. Interestingly, none from the ultimate trip itself. Chiron goes into depth with everything else with emphasis on treating '2001' as an art film. In many respects, he's right. You're there for the spectacle than the word count. I'm not altogether sure about his metaphors though.

I mean there is little to compare the crew of Discovery to the man-apes. If Kubrick had intended that, he might have included a lady in the spaceship. Mind you, the original intention was to make HAL a feminine with the name of Athena so maybe he had considered it.

Chiron's perspective goes from style to the social aspects of the 60s when the film was put together. In many respects, it doesn't always feel as if he sees it as a Science Fiction film. A little weird in that respect but it does offer some different insight.

There were a couple errors in the translation. Most notable was on page 141 where Floyd was suddenly playing chess with HAL and Poole was making sense of zero toilet instructions on the Aries. Then again, HAL was called 'Hal' throughout rather than his accepted capped acronym. Then again, author Michel Chion says the Discovery was three weeks into its mission which wouldn't even have gotten it that far to Jupiter neither.

Reading behind the lines of '2001' being dubbed into French where things like the promised bushbaby for Floyd's daughter becomes a marmoset, one can only presume that was something else that was slipped in. Likewise, Floyd's mission to the Moon being in 2001 when it would have to have been eighteen months earlier to ensure the Discovery matched the film title. By my reckoning, the Discovery has to be at least a year into its journey when we reached it.

One perspective I hadn't considered was the monolith at the time of the man-apes being a representative of a bar of a cage. Not necessarily sure I believe the metaphor especially as the Jupiter monolith was more a gate. If anything, the monolith's represent liberation in my view.

Anyway, if you collect books about '2001: A Space Odyssey' then this one should go towards completing your set and shows a different perspective from the normal.

GF Willmetts

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