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2001: Beyond the Infinite – The Making of a Masterpiece (UPDATED)

When talking about 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick described what is perhaps his greatest film as “basically a visual, nonverbal experience [that] hits the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does, or painting.” When critics, cineastes and hardcore sci-fi geeks discuss it, they usually refer to 2001 as one of the best, most significant movies ever made.

But what of its making? From conception to release, 2001: A Space Odyssey had a production time of four years, during which boundaries were broken, creative and scientific leaps were made, and innovative special effects technology was developed. Surely there’s a story behind the scenes of one of the 20th century’s major cinematic achievements. Doesn’t the creation of one of cinema’s most influential films deserve a movie of its own? Of course it does. Luckily, Douglas Trumbull, the man most suited to make this film, agrees.

Trumbull was a young effects artist when, unsolicited, he approached Kubrick in the mid-1960s about the director’s upcoming science fiction flick. The ballsy Trumbull was hired onto the 1968 masterpiece as a special photographic effects supervisor, his first major credit, and in the years since has had a rich career as the visual effects supervisor on classics such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner, as well as the director of the cult sci-fi favorite Silent Running. But now, over 40 years later, Trumbull is returning to where he began, developing a documentary called 2001: Beyond the Infinite The Making of a Masterpiece.

After nine years of research, Trumbull is teaming with co-director David Larson to deliver “a documentary that really tells the story of the creation of 2001, not just the technical story but the human story, the personal story, the experiences of people who interacted with Kubrick that is really true to the style and look of 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Trumbull has gathered “just incredible stuff” from the making of 2001, including behind-the-scenes production photos, conceptual designs, interviews and perfectly preserved Ektachrome transparencies of the film’s major sets. When combined with a green screen, these transparencies will allow a groundbreaking, in-depth look at the creation of Kubrick’s magnum opus.

A preview of 2001: Beyond the Infinite The Making of a Masterpiece came out almost a year ago but there’s been no word on the doc since then, so I have no idea when it will be released. But I’m betting Trumbull will eventually deliver, to quote “alien David Bowman,” something wonderful.

UPDATE:

I received an email from Doug Trumbull (see comments) telling me this project has been canceled. He asked me to remove the trailer, saying Warner Bros. could sue me. The trailer is gone, but Trumbull really needs to get the clip off YouTube, which is where I got it.

~Theron Neel

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9 Comments

  • Posted August 25, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The project was cancelled over a year ago, so please take down this site. It includes copyrighted material that belongs to Warner Brothers, and they could easily sue you. I agreed with them to take it off my website a year ago.

    Please stop this. I have no further interest in it.

    Doug Trumbull

  • Posted August 25, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Hello Theron,

    I just wanted to stop and say I’ve had a change of heart. W&B can go pound sand up their butts. Put that video back in!

    Doug Trumbull

  • admin
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Ah, the many faces of Doug Trumbull.

  • Christopher Dalton
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Well said, Mr. Trumbull. Well said.

    I, for one, am boycotting Warner Brothers until they give in and support the funding of the documentary. Technically speaking, MGM(as well as Stanley Kubrick’s estate)should be the one to own the rights to 2001 and 2010. Not the WB.

    On that note, is there still a chance for the documentary’s accompanying book(written by Mr. Trumbull and Mr. Larson)to be published? I heard that the book about the making of 2001 was still in the planning stages for publication.

    Christopher Dalton

    2001: A Space Odyssey Group

  • Guido Schröder
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Dear Theron, Dear Doug,

    I have seen the preview of your Doug’s documentary on YouTube – and now I would love to see the final product. As do millions of Kubick fans out there…

    After the discussion I’m not sure what the key problem is: Rights or funding?

    If WB still insist on their rights (to title, story, pictures etc.) then things are obviously hard to change quickly.

    If financial means are the main stumbling block on the way to realize the film then a simple solution is at hand: Crowd funding. I’m sure that if you publish the project on kickstarter.com (or any competitor) it’ll raise the amount of money you need within weeks or even days – no matter what sum we are talking about.

    Guido Schröder

  • admin
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the problem is that Douglas is no longer interested in this project and would like to be left alone about it. I suspect he’s been beaten down by all the red tape involved. Bureaucracy reigns supreme.

  • Guido Schröder
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Well that is sad – but seems to me a somehow Kubrickist experience. Or another battle in the long war between mediocrity and creativity.

    Disappointing is that only one year ago Douglas had so much enthusiasm pushing the project. From my own experience I can tell that the best way to get over this phase of resignation is positive feedback.

    I’m convinced that millions of fans out there would love to see the documentary about Doug’s and Stanley’s incredible work. A crowd sourcing project would not only provide the monetary means but also the clearly visible sign of their ongoing appreciation.

  • admin
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Hear that, world? Your next step is clear…wait, what is it?

    Me? I’m gonna go watch 2001…again.

  • stanely21
    Posted June 27, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    What a shame!

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