Stanley Kubrick, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Outside In”

Several weeks ago, somebody sent an angry email that said because of my choice of fonts in the teaser trailer, I was clearly trying to rip-off Stanley Kubrick, especially his masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Obviously, the emailer did not delve too deeply in the site, but I thought the email was a good way to talk about Kubrick since he’s so important to the film and to my career.

I became a filmmaker because of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. I grew in family that belonged to a religious sect/cult (the Cooneyites) that forbade movies, tv, radio, pop music etc. Fortunately my parents’ adherence wavered once or twice a year and I got to see a few movies. At least until high school when I started sneaking off and seeing a lot of movies (albeit heavily and strangely censored in apartheid South Africa).

But although I was an avid still photographer, my interests lay in science, space, rockets. I applied and planned to go to MIT. But various events and circumstances left me unable to attend and I ended up lost, not quite 18 years old, in the US and studying electronic music (I owned a Korg synth at the time and have always loved music). However, I hated studying music at college and ended up one afternoon in the college library watching movies. I felt I had to make up for all the years I missed watching movies.

They had a bank of VCRs connected to 9″ TVs. One day, I put in “2001”. I was totally, completely blown-away. I had loved Star Wars as kid (after my brother and I begged my parents for months to let us see it). But this was something entirely wonderful, brilliant. Art but science, accurate but moving. Stunning. I instantly knew that this is what I wanted to do.

I still love “2001” as much today as I did then. I also love Kubrick’s other films, especially “Paths of Glory”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “A Clockwork Orange”, “Barry Lyndon”, “The Shining”, “Full Metal Jacket” and “Eyes Wide Shut”. It’s amazing, compared to other science fiction films from the 60’s and 70’s, how well it still holds up. Sure, the actual 2001 is not the 2001 in the film, but that’s not the point.

The ideas, the story, are still as relevant today as then, perhaps even more so. The art in the film is still beautiful. The sound design and use of music still brilliant. Kubrick cared deeply about the art and craft of cinema. He took his time, poured 100% his passion and envision his films. He wanted audiences to like his films but was always true to himself. He wanted enough commercial success to reward investors and continue making films but never did a throw-away project for the money.

He quickly left Hollywood in the early 60’s, never to return, knowing it was the antithesis of his values in filmmaking. Although obsessive and driven to make his films, he was not a hermit or the recluse often portayed in the media. He cared deeply about his large circle of family, friends and animals and nothing for celebrity.

When “Outside In” formulated in my mind, I knew it dealt with, in documentary terms, some of the same themes as “2001”. Barring a time machine, I also knew I would never have the chance to meet or write Kubrick and thank him for so deeply inspiring myself and making such wonderful films.

Although “Outside In” is really nothing like “2001”, I wanted it to have some echoes of Kubrick and “2001”. So yes, I did use one his favorite fonts. There is a little slit-scan sequence homage. And the film closes with a thank you to Kubrick (and Carl Sagan) as well as quote from him. Which is also a great way to close this post. Thank you Stanley….

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
Stanley Kubrick

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