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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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Old Jul 24, 2002, 10:19 AM   #1
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James Joyce (?)

Did Kubrick read Joyce's "Ulysses"? Was he a fan of Joyce?

Joyce's "Ulysses" as we all know is a modern-day "parody" of Homer's "Odyssey." You don't need to know the Odyssey backwards and forwards to enjoy "Ulysses", but it helps. Or, it lets you in on the joke. Notice Joyce didn't call his novel "A Portrait Bloom." ("A Portrait Dedalus" was his working title for "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man".) He called it "Ulysses," shouting out the Greek parallel. Good enough.

Kubrick pointedly called his space movie "2001: A Space ODYSSEY" (caps mine). An "odyssey" in space. Fair enough. But no movie reviewer in 1968 noticed this, or cared to comment upon it. (Notice I'm not touching on Nietzsche here.)

To me, Kubrick uses Joyce's literary techniques cinematically. I honestly feel that "2001" is sort of an "ode" or debt of gratitude to Joyce. Or a few aspects of Joyce.

That's why people don't like "2001" or "Ulysses." They are DIFFERENT than the average novel or movie. You have to read them differently; sort of like John Ford's use of symbolism to the Nth degree. (Anyone else see a few parallels to "The Searchers" here?)

So if you don't like "Ulysses," because Joyce doesn't SPELL THINGS OUT for you---you have to read the book a few times for it to make sense---odds are you won't like "2001" either.
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Old Jul 24, 2002, 11:37 AM   #2
HighWiredSith
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Re: James Joyce (?)

I found Ulysses entirely unreadable. I did read it though, all the way through. It was a literary mess in my opinion, totally incomprehsible and a waste of hours and hours of my time. I think my British Lit professor made us read it to punish us. So maybe you are correct in your assesment of Kubrik and Joyce.
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Old Jul 29, 2002, 05:50 AM   #3
Ender
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Re: James Joyce (?)

i could not get through more than 50 pages of ulysses . i really really tried. i just dont understand why it got the "century's best" award.
unless its like the story of the emperor's new clothes!! i.e. all the journalists and whoever, who voted, couldnt NOT vote for it for fear of being labeled an ignoramus.
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Old Jul 29, 2002, 12:37 PM   #4
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Try, try again

The beauties of "Ulysses" are not revealed in one reading. Simply put. If you can get past this thought, then life has so much more to offer if you exert a little. What, Bach's "Art of Fugue" stinks because, upon one hearing, it made no sense? (If you don't like "Ulysses," what will you say about "Finnegans Wake"?)
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Old Jan 13, 2003, 08:38 PM   #5
Autechre
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734 flights since Jan 2002
Re: James Joyce (?)

Quote:
Originally posted by Unregistered
Did Kubrick read Joyce's "Ulysses"? Was he a fan of Joyce?

Joyce's "Ulysses" as we all know is a modern-day "parody" of Homer's "Odyssey." You don't need to know the Odyssey backwards and forwards to enjoy "Ulysses", but it helps. Or, it lets you in on the joke. Notice Joyce didn't call his novel "A Portrait Bloom." ("A Portrait Dedalus" was his working title for "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man".) He called it "Ulysses," shouting out the Greek parallel. Good enough.

Kubrick pointedly called his space movie "2001: A Space ODYSSEY" (caps mine). An "odyssey" in space. Fair enough. But no movie reviewer in 1968 noticed this, or cared to comment upon it. (Notice I'm not touching on Nietzsche here.)

To me, Kubrick uses Joyce's literary techniques cinematically. I honestly feel that "2001" is sort of an "ode" or debt of gratitude to Joyce. Or a few aspects of Joyce.

That's why people don't like "2001" or "Ulysses." They are DIFFERENT than the average novel or movie. You have to read them differently; sort of like John Ford's use of symbolism to the Nth degree. (Anyone else see a few parallels to "The Searchers" here?)

So if you don't like "Ulysses," because Joyce doesn't SPELL THINGS OUT for you---you have to read the book a few times for it to make sense---odds are you won't like "2001" either.
Probably true, although you couldn't do that now, seeing that its sort of cliche'd to mention Joyce.

Don't know about the Searchers comparison; i was never a fan of it, and i hear everyone saying its "the best film about tolerance" [tosh], and john wayne was an *******.

Ok, hows this for cliched...What about "Waiting for Godot" as a comparison?
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Old Jan 13, 2003, 09:34 PM   #6
SF_not_Sci-Fi
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Re: James Joyce (?)

I have never read Ulysses, but allow me to quote Edgar Wilson Nye on a similer subject:

"Wagner's music is better than it sounds."
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Old Jan 14, 2003, 10:29 AM   #7
Jove
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Re: James Joyce (?)

I have never read Joyce - my loss, maybe - but from what you are saying I can't see that the two are linked in that many ways. Certainly not in content and possibly only in style.

Kubrick never mentioned Joyce in any interview on 2001 that I have read. The two are certainly telling similar stories in their works - the passage of man - but 2001 being an ode to Joyce?

Unregistered said "The beauties of 'Ulysses' are not revealed in one reading".
Kubrick said, surprisingly in an interview for Playboy, that "The very nature of the visual experience in 2001 is to give the viewer an instantaneous, visceral reaction that does not -- and should not -- require further amplification.".
Admittedly he went on to say that, like any film, there are elements that would benefit from repeated viewing, but that is also true of good music and any good book and is certainly not limited to what people obviously see as the "difficult-to-read Joyce".

On the plot of 2001 and especially the end sequence, Kubrick had this to say in a book by Joseph Gemlis:
"Since an encounter with an advanced interstellar intelligence would be incomprehensible within our present earthbound frames of reference, reactions to it will have elements of philosophy and metaphysics that have nothing to do with the bare plot outline.

GELMIS: What are those areas of meaning?

KUBRICK: They are areas I prefer not to discuss because they are highly subjective and will differ from viewer to viewer. In this sense, the film becomes anything the viewer sees in it. If the film stirs the emotions and penetrates the subconscious of the viewer, if it stimulates, however inchoately, his mythological and religious yearnings and impulses, then it has succeeded."



Now as I said I haven't read Joyce so can't comment on his style directly. One thing I do know of both Kubrick and Joyce is that they required the viewer/reader to go beneath the surface layer to find the true meaning of their work. But again, this is true of many writers/directors/visionaries.

This isn't really an argument either way but just more fuel for the debate
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