Please accept my sincere apologies for the lapse. I said I’d never apologize for whatever lengths of time passed between posts here, and I can’t stand to admit it, but I feel guilty anyway. Six months, Father, have streaked by since my last post. As the seasons change, the mind wanders back and forth over over the same well-worn objects. And those, as stated on the rear-view mirror’s very surface, appear smaller.
I’ve been saturating my brain with much more media in the past few years; books, audio books, movies, music and the unceasing torrent of the interwebs … it’s so undisciplined, so uncontrolled and random. No rhyme no reason. But every so often one gets this feeling. A sort of quietude. A sense of a turning point- a very low tide. It’s ineffable, yet palpable. Felt in the bones.
Maybe it’s just an effect of aging. The big Six-Oh is just around the corner. I get tired from clicking “LIKE” on a thousand Facebook posts, but really meaning it. Waiting for the next impulse … and reviewing, occasionally, those lifelong touchstones.
One such touchstone is a movie I’ve seen at least 100 times since its release in 1968: 2001 A Space Odyssey. Twelve-year-old me went with a friend and his dad to see it at a Miami theater. I was enthralled, but also baffled. My friend’s dad pronounced the movie “incomprehensible”. That’s when I learned that word: incomprehensible. I didn’t know then that the man was just being plain honest- I thought “incomprehensible” was some sort of snarky critique.
It would be many more viewings before I comprehended the film, along with a few readings of the Arthur C. Clarke book of the same title, a precursor work of Clarke’s called Childhood’s End, and a book about the making of the movie, which I loaned to a high school teacher and never got back. Over the years I would take friends to see the movie to see what their impressions would be. It was sort of a secret litmus test. Never met anyone who loved the movie as much as me.
Needless to say, I memorized the film and most of its spare Kubrickian dialog. I knew the film shot by shot, and thought that I even knew the complete list of the film’s errors. After all, it was made and released before the US space program completed its lunar goal in July 1969, and long before we became as familiar with space exploration and zero-G as we are nowadays.
So I usually re-watch the movie at least once a year. It came up in the Netflix queue, and I watched it last weekend. In two parts, since the movie is over two and a half hours long, including the pretentious prelude, intermission, and post-credits final curtain music. And I noted two errors I had managed to miss for 40 years! The first was in dialog referencing the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) pods. Pretty minor, but Dave Bowman mistakenly calls the pod in the central “B” position, “the C pod”. The really major error I’d missed startled me when I saw it.
Dave’s red spacesuit, with green helmet and gloves …
… sort of invites scrutiny, but I’d missed this potentially fatal glove error for 40 years!
If you don’t know the movie, HAL 9000, the ship computer, killed all the crew except for Dave, who was stuck outside the ship in an EVA pod, attempting to recover the body of HAL’s first victim. HAL refused to let Dave back in, so Dave, having forgot his helmet in emergent drama, had to enter via the ship’s emergency hatch and risk a brief exposure to vacuum. Dave is then determined to disconnect HAL’s higher functioning AI resources. Being a murderously deluded AI, you can be pretty sure that HAL would have done whatever he could to stop Dave disconnecting him, e.g. depressurizing the ship. But Dave has a full spacesuit on now, complete with mismatched (and xmas themed) helmet and gloves.
HOWEVER, in the shot where Dave accesses HAL’s brain vault we see twice that Dave’s left spacesuit glove is completely disconnected from the suit.
The first shock was how I’d managed to miss this after so many viewings. The second was in trying to figure how or why this serious goof was not corrected. It was just one 40 second scene where Dave unlocks and opens the Logic Memory Center door and climbs in.
So the movie went on to its same old ending, but here I was with a new discovery. What could I do with it, other than Google to find out more. And there were several listings of many more goofs than I’d ever known about. Am I disillusioned? Hell no! Themes from the movie’s score are still wafting through my mental music box a few days later, as they’ve always done. I’ll watch it again sometime in 2016 I expect.
For now, I’m re-watching Back to the Future.