Wednesday, February 21, 2007

2001: North vs Kubrick

So to bring everyone up to speed.

When Stanley Kubrick was making the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the studio forced him to use Alex North to score the film. Now, North scored Kubrick's Spartacus, so they had worked together before. But this time, Kubrick had it in his head what he wanted already, and didn't want anything North had to compose.

So Kubrick lead North on, letting him compose a score for the film, while all the time not even planning on listening to it, let alone using it in the movie. And North didn't even find out until the movie premiered.

Years later, North's music was finally released on CD, so we could all enjoy it. And what's better, the liner notes make it pretty clear where the music was going to be in the film.

So, a friend of mine mixed the music to the specific scenes in the film, and gave me a copy to watch, just to see if it would work. And here's what I think:
The music itself is wonderful, but in the film, it just doesn't work. I guess I'm going to have to give Kubrick his due. now, to be fair, I'm working on a nearly 40 year bias, as I've only seen 2001 one way all these times, and can never see it "for the first time" with North's music.

With the original North cues, the film takes on a very different tone. It's not as "deep" or "dramatic" as it was, and as I watched it, I seemed to not be able to immerse myself in the imagery as I could before. The music took me out of the experience.

Some places, like part of the Space Station Docking and Moon Rocket Bus do work to some extent, but it now - after knowing the film as I have - it takes away from the experience.
So I will continue to enjoy Alex North's music as it is on the CD - and wish he had scored more of the film - but I will continue to enjoy 2001 (the film) as Kubrick made it. And I won't wonder (much) anymore about "how it might have been."

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