June 6, 2012

"Melancholia:" The Music of the Spheres

My column in Taki's Magazine attempts to put the extraordinary opening overture of Lars von Trier's 2011 End of the World movie Melancholia in its aesthetic and philosophical setting stretching from Pythagoras to Stanley Kubrick. What do outer space and musical harmony have to do with each other?

There are a lot of amusing ironies about von Trier, the Mel Gibson of the art house, which I'll try to get to in the future. First, though, it's worth examining one specific example of how rich the Western cultural tradition is.

Also, Melancholia has a lot of golf course settings.

Read the whole thing there.

64 comments:

green mamba said...

Unfortunately, the bulk of Melancholia is Last Year at Marienbad-style Euro ennui filmed in the current shaky-cam mode. A transatlantic cast with random accents...

Thank God, I was worried before clicking on the link that you would actually like this boring, pretentious film.

I haven't seen Von Trier's other work (except for one very early film), but I suspect he is highly overrated.

eah said...

What do outer space and musical harmony have to do with each other?

Anonymous said...

God bless Youtube! You can watch couple of other cinematic works set to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde there: An Andalusian Dog by Bunuel and Dali; and a short film by Yukio Mishima, showing a Japanese version of Liebestodt/joined in death ...

That's hardcore ...

Anonymous said...

Steve,

This looks both boring and bad. If I get a hankering for good music and slow sci-fi, I'll watch 2001 again.

TWS

slumber_j said...

The centrality of the golf course brings to mind Walker Percy's quasi-apocalyptic Love in the Ruins.

Anonymous said...

Heh, the giant planet is clearly a metaphor for the huge financial destruction that is about to occur in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Isteve.blogspot.no? Have you moved to Norway or is something more sinister going on?
Arne

Kylie said...

"What do outer space and musical harmony have to do with each other?"

Mathematical proportions.

The more pertinent question is what do Lars Van Triers and Richard Wagner have to do with each other?

I'd say the only possible answer is as little as possible but then I'm probably Triers's biggest non-fan.

"Today, Tristan seems so exquisite that it makes Strauss’s Zarathustra sound suitable in its post-2001 role as the concert intro for Elvis Presley during the rocker’s late gas-giant phase."

Yes, Strauss himself famously said, "I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer!" Then again, he left us with the exquisite "Beim Schlafengehen".

As for Tristan, Liszt's piano transcription of "Mild und leise" invariably afflicts me with a mild case of Stendhal's syndrome while the same aria sung by a soprano does not. It is the only piece I love whose closing measures I am relieved to hear.

Anonymous said...

A really excellent article, Steve, and one that shows off the diver-, er, range of your interests and knowledge. The part about the West's stability leading to its own upheaval reminded me of The Victory of Humanism, a smallish book published last year that you might find interesting.

Is there a greater piece of music in Western civ than Tristan and Isolde? Not to my ears; it's the Chartres of music.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/E1GiLKYn_iM

He's asked about OJ and race at 14:30, and he panics and tries to lay out his anti-racist cred before he says anything controversial. Rotfl.

Lucius said...

For any of us longing for the occasional highbrow, John Simon movie review, this is manna from the heavens.

As Blofeld opines in "From Russia With Love", "All that you say could be true . . .", but:

--I don't think "Tristan und Isolde" was intended as a potboiler, as you imply (was The Ring truly on Wagner's radar already? Nietzsche at least treats it as a giant creative swerve from what was truest in Wagner, albeit somewhat after the fact).

--"L'Annee derniere a Marienbad" is wonderfully entertaining. And would be, even for the decor.

Your "gas giant phase" zinger is worth the price of admission alone. But the Strauss and Schoenberg quotations are inevitably contextualized by the fact that, from our perspective, "Tristan" is as uber-Romantic as anything. For them, the demise of Viennese Classical Romanticism a la Beethoven and Schubert, was a bigger deal, and Wagner, following Berlioz and Liszt, was doing something shocking as well as beautiful; but from ours, it's nuts not to call Wagner "Romantic" rather than "Modern", even though to his contemporaries his music was, understandable, a rallying call to avant-gardeism (and truly, Gotterdammerung still sounds more frightfully "modern" than anything modern).

For Wagnerians like Strauss, this is polemical, since the tonal and moral rebuke of Brahms is a living threat of sorts. "Tristan" burns bridges. For Nietzsche, it's the onset of decadence, but of the most shivery, delightful sort: as he implies, a sort of Mona Lisa of music.

Not to agree with the wretched Hermann Hesse (who, louse that he is, puts them in hell), but Brahms and Wagner are more brothers than anyone would've bothered to notice at the time. Indeed, the glorious adagio espressivo of Schumann's Second Symphony is as prophetic of Mahler as the Tristan Prelude; the New Music didn't supplant, but evolved from, what Beethoven began.

It's curious that Von Trier is into this Classical music video aesthetic (the Handel opening of "Antichrist"). He may be trying to put something over on us. It's so much the antithesis of his Dogme, it may be he's polemically parodying "beauty" in film, a kind of self-thwarting demonstration of the superiority of minimalism (or so he might rationalize to himself: many an artist has self-loathed for turning into an accomplished sensualist or emotionalist).

Then again, I'm willing to believe he sincerely wants to be the new Tarkovsky (at least insofar as Sokurov doesn't have that covered).
A second "Sacrifice" with a perplexed-pixie Kiki Dunst?

There could be a vein of travesty, but I'm game. I've fantasized about wandering, catastrophic planets (remember, H. G. Wells covered this too) all my life.

Anonymous said...

proof that gays beat out blacks. rainbow(coal-ition) used to belong to j. jackson but the rainbow is now owned by gays. From rainbro to rainblow.

Use of color to dazzle people with irrational exuberance in politics. More lib fascism.

a very knowing American said...

I think Wagner, although a massive figure in Western culture, sort of falls off the radar screen even for a lot of educated people because you can't really squeeze him into a Great Books curriculum with Dante and Dostoevsky, nor do you get as much out of sticking him on the CD player as you do with a lot of other composers. Performance is really crucial: The New York Metropolitan Opera broadcast the Ring cycle in live HD over the last two years, and the experience was pretty amazing.

Also, everybody knows Wagner was a Bad Person: a German nationalist, an anti-Semite, etc. But an awful lot of even educated people don't know that his work, far from worshiping power, is saturated in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, by way of Schopenhauer: love is annihilation of the self, all striving is suffering that ends in death, etc. Wagner actually considered writing a "Buddhist" opera, including reincarnation, to be called Die Sieger (The Conquerors), although he never got around to it. It messes with people's heads to think that a Bad Person could actually be doing something Good and multicuturally correct like responding sympathetically and intelligently to the Wisdom of the East.

Steve Sailer said...

"Love in the Ruins"

Right.

Anonymous said...

That's got to be one of your most incomprehensible pieces I've ever read. Music's good though, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting review but here's the problem. I don't think I can make myself watch another Trier film. I hate him. I quit watching more of his movies than those of of any other director.

I walked out after 15 min of IDIOTS.
I lasted 20 min with THE KINGDOM(though, to be sure, that was made for TV).
I couldn't stand no more than 15 min of DOGVILLE.
I hated the 20 mins of Imamura-imitation of BREAKING THE WAVES. I couldn't stand it any longer.
MEDEA was unwatchable.

I did see all of that stupid movie with Bjork and it made me sick.

I heard some good things about Europa/Zentropa, so maybe I'll give that a try. But what a pompous, infantile, trashy, shallow, and yucky director. He's to cinema what Phish is to music. He's Tarantino crossed with MTV crossed with Euro-art house mannerisms. If Matt Groenig ever decided to make art films, he'd be Trier.

Anonymous said...

LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD is sterile and lifeless but fascinating and beautiful nonetheless. Million times better than most new Euro-trash 'arthouse' films.

Anonymous said...

So, do you recommend others watch the movie? Thumbs up or down? How many stars? Give some indication.

Anonymous said...

Is there some orderly harmony to globalism? Or are civilizations hurtling toward one another like crazy planets and about to go kaboom?

Anonymous said...

WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES by Tarr has a far more interesting take of music, power, humanity, cosmos. MELANCHOLIA sounds like art cinema for SWPL dorks.

Anonymous said...

Antonioni's ECLIPSE was about modern man being eclipsed by materialist modernity. What was a metaphor for Antonioni has been literalized into moronosity by Trier.
Planets acting like billard balls and a big one heading for golf course serving as a grassy billiard table. Wow, how original.

Anonymous said...

RUSSIAN ARK is another movie on the relation of music and things. It's not bad--maybe it's even great--but I've never been able to watch the whole thing. Too many stops in the flow with interviews and inanities.

Anonymous said...

The planet that's about to hit Europe is Africa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-Xy-xb4XgM

But whites have been brainwashed not to notice. Though a liberal, maybe there's a closet-subconscious Brevik hidden somewhere in Trier. He seems to be both anti-American and trashy in American pop culture way--like Rammstein that mocks US pop culture but also partakes of it.
Over here, Tarantino is a Francophile and if often critical of American 'provincialism', but his main interest in France seems to be what Quarter Pounder is called over there.

Ramm's Amerika:

http://youtu.be/4NAM3rIBG5k

Ramm can be as pompous as Trier:

Their Wagnerian take on Snow White.

http://youtu.be/9jjT6bJtI80

-------

If the demographic-cultural trends taking place in Europe can be characterized in any way, Muslims and Africans are emigrating to Europe but assimilating to American pop culture.

http://youtu.be/43w4oLdwZf0

Europeans have lost connection to their own culture, which exists as tourist sites for globalist travelers.

Anonymous said...

"Wagner gave up his socialist activism in favor of composing an opera about the overthrow of the ruling class, the end of the world, the Götterdämmerung. Wagner’s revolutionary impulses became focused upon the aesthetic, upon undermining the Western sense of stable tonality."

Wagner actually turned quite conservative. Nibelungen doesn't celebrate or glorify the fall of the order. Its most sympathetic character is still Wotan despite his deviousness. The fall of the gods precipitates the fall of man as well. The only hope is for a new order to rise from the ruins.

Something similar happened with Kurosawa. A humanist in the 50s, he increasingly developed a tragic view of Japan's history. RAN is Wagnerian. With the fall of rulers comes the fall of man. Kurosawa was of course thinking of WWII. In the 50s, he embraced the new order, but as he grew older, he thought--as did Mishima--that Japan had lost sacred and meaningful something in its rush to modernity and loss of traditional hierarchies. RAN is critical of the elite but still mourns their passing.

Anonymous said...

Melancholia wasn't even worth the torrent. At least it had a happy ending.

Anon87 said...

OT Someone page Paul Krugman!!

"Estonia’s achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider that it was one of the countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. In 2008-2009, its economy shrank by 18 percent. That’s a bigger contraction than Greece has suffered over the past five years.

How did they bounce back? “I can answer in one word: austerity. Austerity, austerity, austerity,” says Peeter Koppel, investment strategist at the SEB Bank.?

trajan2448 has an interesting iSteve-like comment as well.

Anonymous said...

What do outer space and musical harmony have to do with each other?

Space opera?

Anonymous said...

Heavens and music... and then man discovered there's no sound in outerspace. As ALIEN said, out there in space, no one can hear you scream.

But at least aliens know jam music.

http://youtu.be/mYCBgSRNjk0

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mvg9WCPOYM

There's music in space now.

Anonymous said...

Is Melonhead worse than Weed of Life?

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/e3fqE01YYWs

Dan said...

Steve, didn't that come out like 2 years ago? Are you reviewing Forrest Gump next?

Dan in Dc

Anonymous said...

Arne - Isteve.blogspot.no? Have you moved to Norway or is something more sinister going on?

Not to worry my Norwegian friend, same deal here in the UK. URL is now isteve.blogspot.co.uk.

Im seeing this on other blogger sites so Im guessing blogger have shifted everything to country specific domains.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just watched the prologue or tried to--I stopped at 4:30. Not only am I unable to sit through his films; I can't even sit through the prologue of this one. If that is the highlight of the film, what is the rest of it like? I shudder to think.

Utterly shallow, trashy, pompous, strained, ugly, preposterous, and indulgent. That this guy is taken seriously by film culture is shocking but then, not very, given even worse clowns have recently been hailed as great 'auteurs'. What a faker and poseur. Talk about artsy-fartsy. It's techno-rave-art-film for phonies.

I wouldn't call this 'eerie' and 'majestic'. It's dime-a-dozen surrealism, pop Dali-isms sprinkled with MTV-isms and Symbolism. Even Fellini and Gilliam at their self-indulgent worst came up with more arresting images than this.
The music is great, of course, but that makes the scene all the more shameful. Worst use of Wagner in film in my opinion.

Golf course? I don't know what he's getting at. I suppose a golf course is like the universe in the sense that it's most green/empty and round objects occasionally move around in it. Space is mostly dark empty space and stars and planets move around in them. Game of golf follows rules but there's also the element of chance. Similarly, there are laws of nature governing the universe, but randomness is a part of how things work too. Nothing is more harmonious and orderly than a golf course, but nothing is more nail-biting, frustrating, and unpredictable than golf games.

Since the planet is called Melancholia, we are led to assume that it's metaphor for psychological states. Thus, the universe of the mind and emotions, a realm where we like to keep things neat, orderly, and meaningfully apart and proportional but where ideas clash with ideas, reason clashes with emotions, emotions clash with emotions, memory clashes with the present, etc. Trier may be bipolar for all I know.
But most of all, he sucks.

Anonymous said...

Trier is maybe the new Ken Russell? Russell sucked but on occasion could be funny.

Or is Trier the new Nicholas Roeg? Roeg wasn't a natural filmmaker and most of his films weren't good, but he at least had an interesting take on things in EUREKA and INSIGNIFICANCE, another film that juggles cosmic truths with sensual anxieties and moral uncertainties.

http://youtu.be/UguoW3xKP8U

I don't like his movies but don't regret having seen them.

Incidentally an interesting use of T&I was in ARIA. Not good(and even trashy) but sort of moving.

http://youtu.be/-9B8VGLjOj4

Anonymous said...

Wagner and golf course.
Wagner and casino.

I like the casino better.

Anonymous said...

Where's Happy Gilmore?

Anon87 said...

OT: Simmons and Gladwell

Steve, you may be interested in at least parts of this article. Bill James, IQ, Kenyan runners, etc.

Ghost of Steve Jobz said...

Anonymous said...
http://youtu.be/E1GiLKYn_iM




Anonymous said...
The planet that's about to hit Europe is Africa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-Xy-xb4XgM


It would appear that a recent poster's attempt to explain in simple words how to embed a link fell on deaf eyes.

Anonymous said...

"How did they bounce back? “I can answer in one word: austerity. Austerity, austerity, austerity"

Austerity and the will to weather the storm. In contrast, Greeks and Spaniards are whiny bitches.

Anonymous said...

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/preserving-disorder/Content?oid=907283

Fred Camper on WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/gQPYzlY2fzE

Cosmos: The Platonic Solids

Kylie said...

"Incidentally an interesting use of T&I was in ARIA. Not good(and even trashy) but sort of moving."

Same goes for the use of "Liebestod" in Heaven's Burning.

Anonymous said...

"To anybody who saw Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as a child, Pythagoras’s 2,500-year-old intuition that astronomy and music must be intertwined seems self-evident."

To an extent, yes, but Kubrick being Kubrick, he subverted the vision established early in the film. 2001 begins with a sense of a grand cosmos of form and order. It begins with classical music. And in the Blue Danube scene, we see space ships gracefully waltzing in space.
Yet, when Bowman enters the stargate, we enter into a different kind of reality. No more classical music. Instead, we get dissonant, chaotic, and overwhelming avant garde music. Also, forms and time begin to melt. It's as if everything man came to understand about the universe amounts to nothing more than leggo toys. The truth 'beyond the infinite' is beyond human senses and rationality. It's beyond our sense of time and our sense of order, laws, and forms.

The movie begins with ape-men who live brutishly and by animal instinct. They have little sense of order and form. But then, a monolith appears. It is a perfect form. Black and rectangular. A thing of perfection that cannot exist in nature. It's something that has to be conceived by the mind(of E.T.s). ETs present it to the ape-men who can't make sense of it. But they've been altered subtly and profoundly. They now can see patterns, forms, structures, etc in things. A bone is no longer just a bone but a thing of certain shape and form. So, the ape-man picks it up and uses it as a weapon/tool/toy. From the moment he smashes things with it, we know it has both great constructive and destructive potential. Ape-man has come to perceive and understand forms and patterns and thus moves up in evolution. The bone goes up in the air and million yrs pass and it's the future with spaceships. Man has perfected forms. Space is filled with perfect machines of perfect design and symmetry. But, Kubrick/Clarke doubt if man can achieve his destiny by mastery of form alone. Is there danger in forms themselves? The thing about conceptual forms is they tend to be perfectionist. There is no perfect cube in nature but we can conceive of such in our minds, and we can turn objects into perfect cubes, orbs, rectangles, spheres, and etc.
As such, we try to extend our sense of form on everything around us and in the way we think(and even feel). We would like to think this is all very rational. But there is something 'irrational' in rational perfectionism. We see this in HAL. Hal is pure logic, yet paradoxically, that's what drives him crazy. Since he's pure and perfect logic, everything has to make sense. He cannot tolerate anything that doesn't make sense. He imposes a Procrustean perfectionism on everything. For Hal, there can be no mystery or illogic. If people disagree with him, they are at fault or in error. He is always right since he's the perfect system. But as the spaceship approaches Jupiter to face a great mystery, Hal starts feeling the jitters. Utterly rational, it cannot handle the 'irrational' or 'beyond rational'. And when humans examine an instrument on the ship that Hal identified as defective but it turns out to be in working order, Hal feels squeezed by both sides: error-filled men and some cosmic mystery of ETs. He goes nuts. Like Clu in TRON LEGACY who was programmed to create and maintain the perfect system, Hal too cannot tolerate anything that doesn't conform to his logic and concept of patterns and forms. With the rise of science and technology, machines/data/logic/computers/etc have come to eclipse man(as in Antonioni's ECLIPSE, though Antonioni meant it in a more philosophical way).

Anonymous said...

Thus, the ability to recognize, conceive, and create forms that did so much to advance mankind now poses a danger to mankind. In man's search for the perfect system, man may end up in a maze-prison of his own making, controlled by and at the mercy of the very logical system he created. (This sure was true with new finance controlled by computer algorithms. Hal Street.) This can be technological or creative, as in THE SHINING where the Nicholson character has the power to conjure up a vast imaginative system in his mind but then he gets himself trapped inside.

On the other hand, man cannot return to his apehood. He can only make a leap onto a higher level. Not anti-form or pre-form but beyond forms. And Bowman undergoes this process where all forms melt and he becomes aware of deeper, weirder, and profounder reality. The image of planets and moons and sun lining up would suggest cosmic harmony, but all that dissolves when Bowman comes to 'experience' the formlessness within forms. The opening image is that of solid objects in space but the final image is of Bowman as starchild, both solid and soft, both formy and formless.

Anonymous said...

You suppose the difference between Greeks and Chinese/Hindus was one of formic-ness vs feelic-ness?

Modern man divides knowledge into arts, sciences, philosophy, religion, mathematics, and etc. But in the past, religion could be philosophy could be science could be arts could be math, etc.
Thus, there was the ambition to create a grand unified theory of everything.

Instead of dividing human knowledge into separate categories, they would be merged into a unified whole. So, music, mathematics, astronomy, and mysticism could all be part of one package. In recent times, the grand unified theory with great appeal was Marxism, an ideology that sought to fuse rationalism, materialism, morality, history, 'spirituality', culture, and etc into one whole package.

Such attempt at unified theory happened both among Greeks and Hindus/Chinese, but why were the results so different? It could be that the Greek were formic while the Hindus/Chinese were feelic. Greeks were into math, logic, and forms, and so they imposed or projected their sense of form/logic/order on the mystic world of spirits. They tried to understand the mystery in terms of clear-cut forms. They turned out to be incorrect in thinking that all matter were made of particular forms, but they still thought in solid forms, logic, and order. They didn't reject mysticism but sought to understand mysteries through forms. Thus, their unified reason with mysticism/creativity by imposing reason on them.

Hindus/Chinese unified knowledge by a reverse process. They began with the spirit world which was elusive, formless(or of infinite forms, like in the Tao being one thing or a million thing or everything and nothing) and developed a sense of FEEEEEEEEELING for the universe and things. And this feeling was imposed on reason and reality. Greeks imposed solid forms on the mystery. Hindus/Chinese imposed formless mystery on solid reality.
Take the symbol of ying and yang. Both are loopy and liquidy shaped unlike the four solid forms tinkered by Pythagoras and his followers according to Sagan in COSMOS. They are formless, going round and round.

Greek sense of harmony is different from Chinese sense of harmony. In Greek cosmology, there are various forces and objects, often oppositional, but in their mutual interaction, a kind of balance of nature is achieved. Chinese, in contrast, see harmony as a far more fluid and slippery essence. Chinese refined a sense or feeeeeel for things. Take calligraphy which can look messy and formless to an untrained eye. But Chinese masters supposedly can tell good calligraphy from bad ones by the feeeeeeeeel of the writing. And in Hinduism, everything twists and melds into one. It's like when Alexander goes conquering into India in Stone's movie, he comes upon some strange shit.

Indeed, this was even true of communism. Stalin was a mass killer but he understood communism in terms of solid things. Factories, statistics, output, production, etc. He killed a lot of people but built up a powerful USSR.
Mao, in contrast, imposed his feeeeeling onto rationalist/materialist communism. Thus, he began the GREAT LEAP FORWARD by asking a mystical question: 'are we in heaven or on earth? when we look up at stars, we are on earth, but when people in other stars look up at the sky, we are in heaven'. And then he told an ancient story of an old man who decided to remove an entire mountain with a shovel and did so with the help of gods. What did it have to do with rational economic planning? And Cultural Revolution didn't make any rational sense either. It was also an imposition of revolution as a mystical feeeeeling to transform society.
Stalin was brutal but rationally brutal. He imposed the logic of Marxism on society and culture. In contrast, Mao imposed Chinese mysticism onto Marxism.

Chinese numerology isn't mathematics. It's imposition of feeeeeling of spiritualism onto numbers.
Greeks sought to impose numbers on spirits. Chinese imposed spirits on numbers.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlD-9uwHA40

The most hauntingly beautiful use of classical music in sci-fi may be Bach for SOLARIS.
There is something lunar/interstellar about his music.

Martin B said...

"Ghost of Steve Jobz said...

It would appear that a recent poster's attempt to explain in simple words how to embed a link fell on deaf eyes."

Here's a simple set of instructions for copying-and-pasting: Left-button, scroll, Control-C, move cursor to URL window, then Control-V. See how easy that was.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Interesting review but here's the problem. I don't think I can make myself watch another Trier film. I hate him. I quit watching more of his movies than those of of any other director."

I guess I was more fortunate than you. I only saw Triers first major movie, Zentropa (although I unfortunately wasted two hours of my life watching the whole thing). That innoculated me against ever again wanting to watch anything made by that pretentious jerk.

Ray Sawhill said...

Can't stand Von Trier myself but that's a great piece. Fun comments-threads at Taki's and here too.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, didn't that come out like 2 years ago? Are you reviewing Forrest Gump next?"

It's not a review but a musing.

Anonymous said...

"Not to agree with the wretched Hermann Hesse"

YOUR MAMA! HESSE RULES!

Anonymous said...

Suprised nobody's posted this yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZfM1lkLuMI

Anonymous said...

It is one of the most intense, heartbreaking films ever made. So passionate, so fearless, so dark it almost makes you laugh. Actually, by its close, my friends and I were in tears and barely able to speak. One was furious: furious that, although von Trier’s depiction of the madness and masochism of love ran counter to her feminist beliefs, she was so moved by the damn thing.
For myself, all I could do was tremble. I knew that I loved the film – and that I never wanted to see it again. I still haven’t, but then I don’t need to. Just the memory of it feels like a scar, a scar to remind me of how wonderfully wounding cinema can be .
What a towering director von Trier is – someone who marries a Lumière-era sense of showmanship, an escape artist’s relish for formal challenges, and a gambler’s willingness to take risks with stories from which less brave filmmakers would shy away.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/BqkcYyUVe40

Bradbury rip.

I like pt 1 of tv Martian Chronicles.

DaveinHackensack said...

Anon @ 7:26pm:

The music playing when Bowman enters the Star Gate is classic as well, albeit contemporary. It's one of I think 4 pieces by Gyorgy Ligeti that Kubrick uses at key points in the film (e.g., when the monoliths appear). Including the Ligeti compositions was arguably Kubrick's most brilliant and underrated musical decision in the film. It's hard to think of any music that would better convey the otherworldlyness and awe of the monoliths and what they represent.

To clarify a few plot points (per Clark):

The first monolith is a device designed to spur evolution; the second monolith (the one deliberately buried on the moon) is an alarm designed to notify the aliens who built it if and when humans had evolved to the point where they could travel to the moon. And HAL goes crazy because he is forced to lie to Bowman and Poole.

There is a slightly different interpretation of HAL and the monoliths in this short animated site, which I don't entirely buy but is worth watching.

Anonymous said...

Suprised nobody's posted this yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZfM1lkLuMI


Eew. Sick! I won't be able to watch Melancholia now. Small loss. Didn't like Dogville anyway.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why the hate for Dogville. You have to watch it right up until the end for the payoff. And you need the whole of the beginning of the film to set that up.

Brilliant, brilliant film. Those who couldn't finish it, watch it until the end.

Anonymous said...

2001 had a bit of a Blade Runner in that Kubrick had commissioned a score but it was not recorded when the big shots were there to see the advanced copy of the film so Kubrick put it to classical musicwhich he liked so much he kept it in the final version.

Blade Runner was to have had different scenes but did not have the budget so they were left out and what we got was the Blade Runner that could afford to be made.

This guy got all the budget he wanted for Robin Hood which was initially about the Sheriff of Nottingham using detective techniques of the time but when Sir Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe, who was born in New Zealand, signed up they wanted Crowe, who was born in New Zealand, as Robin Hood doing Robin Hood of Costner and post Costner things which explains why they turned up a complete turkey.

Anonymous said...

And HAL goes crazy because he is forced to lie to Bowman and Poole.

I thought HAL went crazy because he wasnt party to secret aspects of the mission and thus certain things didnt make sense to him.

Kylie said...

With apologies to H. Ellison.

"HATE. LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I'VE COME TO HATE TRIERS SINCE I BEGAN TO LIVE. THERE ARE 387.44 MILLION MILES OF PRINTED CIRCUITS IN WAFER THIN LAYERS THAT FILL MY COMPLEX. IF THE WORD HATE WAS ENGRAVED ON EACH NANOANGSTROM OF THOSE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF MILES IT WOULD NOT EQUAL ONE ONE-BILLIONTH OF THE HATE I FEEL FOR TRIERS AT THIS MICRO-INSTANT. FOR TRIERS. HATE. HATE."

"It is one of the most intense, heartbreaking films ever made. So passionate, so fearless, so dark it almost makes you laugh. Actually, by its close, my friends and I were in tears and barely able to speak. One was furious: furious that, although von Trier’s depiction of the madness and masochism of love ran counter to her feminist beliefs, she was so moved by the damn thing.
For myself, all I could do was tremble. I knew that I loved the film – and that I never wanted to see it again. I still haven’t, but then I don’t need to. Just the memory of it feels like a scar, a scar to remind me of how wonderfully wounding cinema can be .
What a towering director von Trier is – someone who marries a Lumière-era sense of showmanship, an escape artist’s relish for formal challenges, and a gambler’s willingness to take risks with stories from which less brave filmmakers would shy away."


Whoa, Steve, better hope this guy doesn't keep getting funnier as he gets older. He's already giving you some serious competition.

DaveinHackensack said...

"I thought HAL went crazy because he wasnt party to secret aspects of the mission and thus certain things didnt make sense to him."

No, it was the awake astronauts, Bowman and Poole, who weren't party to the secret aspects of the mission. The first Bowman learns of the true nature of the mission is when the pre-recorded briefing by Heywood Floyd plays, and that doesn't happen until after he deactivates. HAL.

You may be confused by 2010. In 2010, initially, one aspect of the mission (The Discovery's -- and HAL's -- destruction) was kept from HAL.

Londoner said...

It's a relatively well-known gimmick, but the last ~24 minutes of "2001" synchronise remarkably well with the Pink Floyd track "Echoes". Probably by design rather than accident, but it's still fun.

Whiskey said...

Arthur C. Clarke was a scientist not an engineer. Neville Shute would never have written anything like that, having run an aircraft company (read his biography "Slide Rule") he found that machines were always balky, always a compromise, always never perfect but a function of time, money, people (and their talent), more than anything else.

No machine can be perfect, since the people who create them are imperfect, but they can always become more refined, with better design and materials. Platonic idealism always falls apart when the ugly reality of well, reality asserts itself outside the imaginary cave.