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Black Girl on the Front Row!

Tag: SCI-FI

INTERVIEW: “A 2014 SPACE ODYSSEY, WITH KEIR DULLEA AND GARY LOCKWOOD!”

…Somewhere in deepest Londinium, a truly unique event was about to begin…

The Mission:

To join a select group of journalists, for a ‘Q and A’ session with Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, star protagonists of Stanley Kubrick’s legendary cinematic opus, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

…Undoubtedly, I had enthusiastically chosen to accept, and yet, somehow, I could not dismiss the overriding feeling that the stars had aligned and the opportunity had chosen me…

Arriving early, I took the space and time to dwell upon the imminent proceedings. Only in November had I disembarked upon my journey with the blockbuster movie…and now, I was installed in a low-lit, BFI Southbank Studio, sharing a front-row, replete with male counterparts, conversing about Kubrick’s created world and the chance for further enlightenment thereof, with the giddy excitement of a child, about to unwrap a plethora of gifts, on Christmas morning!

Our expedition ‘Captain’ was Rhidian Davis, Producer of the BFI’s hugely impressive ‘Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder’ Season. Relaxed and congenial, he was also enlivened by the audience response to the scheduled UK-wide selection of events, particularly indicated by all of the “really positive” social media feedback. As he waxed lyrically, the gentle hum of classical music began piping through the surround-sound, in turn, sending my mind through its own wormhole, to the opening sequence of ‘2001’..Seemingly, wherever I went, my world was happily fated to an endless soundtrackwithout the need of Soundcloud! Yet, with a topline punctuated, every so often, by the swing of a door, I would fall back into the realms of the present…to darkness falling…to the majestic ‘2001’ trailer…to new voices joining the chorus…and, at its close, to the recognition of the word “Fantastic” being uttered by one particularly familiar American accent…

…That of ‘Dave Bowman’…the one and only, Mr Keir Dullea! (Cue internal applause!)…quickly followed by another Stateside inflection, which (by process of elimination), could have been (and wasnone other than ‘Frank Poole’, a.k.a, Mr Gary Lockwood! (Ditto, with the applause!)… In stature, they were the exact opposite! Dullea, tall, lithe, piercingly-bright-eyed, silver-haired, bearded and elegantly-suited, with an air of suave, Savile Row. Lockwood, gracefully-greying, with eyes of warm, deep-set intensity and an imposing silhouette, wrapped in smart-casual attire, signalling the powerful physique of his days as a quarterback and stuntman. Yet, we were to learn that their personalities made them quite the most perfect interview double-act and their arrival had signalled our take-off, into streams of consciousness, run-on lines and priceless memories, which were to become an integral part of my own, and went a little something like this (‘stage directions’ and all!)…

[The room falls into an enjoyable outer space silence].

…Of the premiere of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’…

KD [Thoughtful. Considered. Bowman-like!]: “It blew me away… Nothing readies you… The ‘Dawn of Man’ Sequence surprised me the most..”

(It transpires that they had seen no rushes of that section, as the scenes were filmed after they had wrapped their own).

GL [Excitedly, as if reliving the moment.]:Everyone was reading about the hype of the film… but it wasn’t all that well received..”

(Save for the shuffling of a few pens on paper…the room is still, as we absorb their every word).

KD [Glancing over to GL, continuing the thought.]: “…[It] got unbelievably mixed reviews…I began to doubt that it was going to happen [be successful]…Not that it was less of a film…”

…On how they initially got cast

KD [Measured, with a wry smile.]: “I went to a fortune teller at the Battersea Funfair and the palmist said that he saw a rocketship [in my hand]!!…I returned home and my wife said I was to call my agent…I was told that Stanley Kubrick had offered me the part…but I was also in a play with Laurence Olivier, in London, already…”

GL [Confident. Quickly chimes in!]:I knew it was over! I knew it would be the job! None of us was going to be in a better part than that! Warren Beatty said ‘They were lucky!’…”

KD [Buoyant.]: “He was right!!!”

(The men look at each other in recognition of two friends having been in the once-in-a-lifetime experience, together. They chuckle along in the moment of nostalgia…Their warmth is infectious and the smiles spread around the room!).

On Kubrick, himself…

KD [With a real sense of awe.]: “In general, people rave about the experience. Kubrick was so easygoing with us. I felt I was in the presence of genius…He was the most prepared of any director I’d ever worked with. Part of his genius was the way he cast…He cast well.”

(At this point, we learn that prior to ‘2001’, Gary Lockwood was a stuntman and had already been in such epic films as Kubrick’s ‘Spartacus.’ He asked Kubrick why he had been cast)..

GL [With a cheeky glint in his eye.]: He said, ‘I thought you could do a lot, without doing anything!’…”

KD [Still caught up in awestruck mood.]: “[Kubrick] was the most curious man I’d ever met…”

GL [Bursts into the hushed atmosphere. Continues his thought!]: “People who are really good at something have to have a good I.Q! When the ‘Pentax’ was invented, he gave his daughter the ‘Pentax’ and told her to photgraph everything that looked good. She had ‘the eye’…”

(Recounting Kubrick, increases the momentum of memories, so much so, that the energy behind Gary’s statement somewhat renders it an announcement! The gravitas has us on tenterhooks…)

…Of the movie…

KD [With deep respect.]: “The genius of this film has withstood, generation to generation. What a compliment to Stanley Kubrick.”

(The silence is golden. We all feel the respect. We all agree).

…Of the films, ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar’…

GL [Bold. Objective.]: “ ‘Interstellar?’ It’s not as good as ‘2001’ but there are some really great moments! Symbiotically… all things in ‘2001’ seem to work…I don’t think ‘Interstellar’ did that. The great sci-fi movie, other than ‘2001’, is ‘Blade Runner’… It’s incredible!

KD [Deliberate. Pensive.]: “ ‘Gravity’…It’s a different experience. I enjoyed it enormously. I’m proud to have been part of this movie [‘2001’]. The last really great film I saw, last month, was ‘Force Majeure’..Painfully funny is a good way to describe it. Don’t miss it!

GL [Cheery. Enthusiastic.]: “See ‘Birdman’* everybody! It’s great! Neorealistic film, with trippy little bits!”

(The pace moves evermore swiftly…)

…Of Kubrick’s character profiles for ‘2001’…

KD [Focussed.]: “We had a fictional biography…We [Bowman and Poole] both had double-doctorates and by the year 2001, they would be choosing people [astronauts] based upon their psychological profile, rather than the military [background].”

…On why they were in the pod…

KD[Informative.]: “Stanley would have us improvise scenes and then he would take the workshops and work them into the film…”

…On contributing ideas, in general…

KD [In quiet, secretive tone.]: “In the end, when I’m in that 16th century room and I’m the older person eating, and the glass breaks… The reason why I asked Stanley if I could knock it over, was in order to sense things in a different way……. The old-age make-up took 12 hours to do!”

…On re-acclimatising to Earth, after so many hours in outer space…

KD [Jokily]: “It wasn’t hard…you just had a coffee!”

(Laughter ensues!)

…On the lack of dialogue in the film…

KD [Wonderfully matter-of-fact!]: “We’ve been in space a long while…We know each other so well, that there’s nothing much left to say! It’s laidback, as it would be, after so long…One of the interesting aspects is that the computer was more human than the humans! The only real emotional scene was when I am taking HAL’s brain apart… What I used [for intention/inspiration] was ‘Of Mice and Men’…

…Of actor, Nigel Davenport, as HAL 9000…

KD [Jocular.]: “Nigel Davenport was cast as Hal before the ultimate actor…and for the longest time, it was like Michael Caine!”

(More laughter fills the studio, owing to Keir’s brilliant impersonation of an English-accented HAL…!!)

On such a high, the ‘Q and A’ session was ‘a wrap’!

Time spent in the presence of two of the wisest, most engaging, fun-loving people whom I have been blessed to meet-and-greet, was gone, in warp-speed..

The mission might have been over but, within that silent millisecond, a mental image of Dave Bowman, hurtling into the future, sprang to mind…Proof positive that, not only would the film continue long into my own…but, having met these delightful gentlemen, the words “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” would never be the same again!

©AFROW2014-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

WARMEST AFROW-THANKS TO…

MESSRS KEIR DULLEA (KD) AND GARY LOCKWOOD (GL)

RHIDIAN DAVIS (BFI)

SARAH HARVEY PUBLICITY

THE BFI’S LEGENDARY ‘SCI-FI: DAYS OF FEAR AND WONDER’ SEASON CONTINUES…

*(Since the time of going to press, ‘Birdman’ has received 7 Golden Globes Nominations).

REVIEW: “2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY”

If ever a creation of cinematic endeavour were made for HD technology, then ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is it!

Currently showing as part of the BFI’s gargantuan ‘Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder’ Season, it is arguably the knockout centrepiece, within a roomful of genre heavyweights!

Whilst I had heard much of the Stanley Kubrick/ Arthur C. Clarke classic, I only became acquainted with the sci-fi archetype, in all of its visual re-mastered splendour, in November, at a BFI preview screening. You may, indeed, gasp… but I rather saved mine for the believable surreality, expressed by lavish scenes of space and a glorious classical score! In fact, sat in a pod-like room (in shape, rather proportions!), with a screen, which became my ‘visor’ into every impeccable image, for me, neither the timing, nor the location could have been more perfect…

I read, well, excitedly surfed, the synopsis…Words levitated at me… I summised that a monolith visits Earth, mystifies apes, re-appears in 2001, signals Jupiter and astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) are sent on a mission to investigate…under the watchful gaze of on-ship computer, HAL!

…And so it began…

From the crescendo of discordant sound against nothingness and visceral vividness of ‘The Dawn of Man’, to the comparative implication of sophistication and elegance of modern man and machine, borne out of the divine works of Strauss, I was hooked!

An overture of sheer fine art was sustained through an uncompromisingly focused vision.

Each frame a multi-platform symmetry of the highest quality and incredible detail…with the genius woven through the process of creatively honouring them.

For example, some of the most impeccable avant-garde apparel, by Sir Hardy Amies, graced the eye, with an aesthetic of lines so clean and sharp, cut so, entirely, be-yond minimal, that I could barely breathe! Out-of-this-world ovoid millinery and super-inventive, zero-gravity gripper shoes only underlined selecting the haute-couture designer! Furthermore, the use of such household names as ‘Pan Am’, as the method to reach the Space Station and staying at the ‘Hilton Hotel’, once there, in addition to such highly innovative technology, as video immigration and phonecard screencalls, were smart , yet utterly convincing.

There really is nothing new under the sun, as over 40 years later, we’re calling them ‘fashion-forward’, ‘product placement’, ‘check-in’ and ‘Skype’!  That said, I have yet to see a 360-degree, rotating elevator, but boy, am I glad that Kubrick not only had it in mind, but beautifully played it out, on-screen… There simply is nothing quite like the lasting image of an intergalactic air-stewardess, completely upside-down, en route to serving technicolour food, to passengers, whose falling arms (when dozing), weightlessly float with balletic grace!

Very much like a dancer extending a fingertip, to interpret a sonic phrase, so the musical movements supported and completed the visual motion. Sometimes dense, with legato strings and minor chord progressions, sometimes tense, with only breathing patterns, like vocal heartbeats, being heard, Kubrick was unafraid to strip back aural interplay, in order to facilitate mood. Of particular note, with the introduction of the monolith, was the motif of acapella chorale, suggesting reverence, yet increasing mystery, as to its significance. However, it is in the extended silences, that Kubrick played his most powerful hand. The everness of Eternity is succinctly captured, by allowing the vastness of Space to be embraced by the literal sound of silence. We see action. We hear no correlation to it. The quietude is deafening. The effect? Incremental hypersensitivity. Emotions are, thus, heightened. A directorial masterstroke…

…As is Kubrick’s casting!

In Keir Dullea (David Bowman), we are arrested by the palest of eyes…nigh-on transparent, save for the most delicate inflection of ice-blue. His voice sparse in modulation..His demeanour still, considered, controlled, to the point of highly-strung. Gary Lockwood (Frank Poole), is the ultimate foil to Dullea, portraying a chilled-out, space-traveller, with an air of the boy-next-door, who ‘lucked-out on landing a pretty cool gig’! Both at complementary ends of shared intensity…Both absolute, in their supreme acting ability to manifest the dynamics of emotion in between.

Then there’s ‘HAL’. ‘HAL 9000‘, to be exact! The conscious entity, which, due to its stratospherically high level of A.I, causes the indefinite, to become definite. Pre-mission interviews in which HAL expresses ‘worry’, only served to elevate ‘relatability’ and exacerbate the fine line between human and high science. Once again, the film deftly explores the narrative, with edge-of-the-seat suspense, which brings us to a most stunning dramatic climax, the like of which only first-person, big-screen viewing can do justice!

Thanks to this jaw-droppingly epic film, made in the 60’s, posing questions as to the life-cycle of Man, proposing fully-developed, intergalactic living and investigative missions to Jupiter, in a time when research is well underway for ‘treks’ to Mars in the very near future, the way in which I look at sci-fi will never be the same…no matter what the world of cinema produces!

To quote Keir Dullea, from a recent group interview at which I was priveleged to be present… ‘It blew me away… Nothing quite readies you..’

..My sci-fi sentiments, exactly!

©AFROW2014-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Heartfelt Afrow-thanks to…

The entire Creative Force behind ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

Rhidian Davis

Sarah Harvey Publicity

‘2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’ IS OUT NOW, AS PART OF THE BFI’S ‘SCI-FI: DAYS OF FEAR AND WONDER’ SEASON!