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Ok, so here’s an idea I’ve tried to figure out for some time.
What if we took the current remastered HD 2001: A Space Odyssey master on the BD and tried to return it to something more akin to what played in 70mm Cinerama back in 1968?
The 6 track audio was put on the Criterion LD as Dolby Surround PCM, the later MGM LDs and was mixed into 5.1, and on the initial MGM DVD as 5.1. All of these have the original sound design intact with the correct dialog panning as intended. With what HH did on his 70mm SW mix, I think it’s definitely possible.
Then the color timing could be looked at, because the current SE DVD/BD and digital prints look different to the film as I have seen projected several times. In fact the prints look like all the old Criterion/MGM issues.
But perhaps most interesting of all, wouldn’t it be interesting to apply a Smilebox effect as was wonderfully used on the restored BD of How the West Was Won? This might finally give an idea of how impacting 2001 is theatrically. It was a single camera, single projector 70mm Cinerama film that was simply projected onto the famed deeply curved screen.
From the Kubrick site:
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If you’re a 2001 fan lucky enough to have a laser disc player, there are six disc versions the best of which come remarkably close to the theatrical experience. These versions are:
1. MGM Pan and Scan. Not worth it, for reasons expressed above.
2. Japanese letterbox CAV set, the first letterbox set available. I haven’t seen this, but reviews I’ve read indicate it falls far short of the later American transfers and isn’t worth having, it is probably costly as well.
3 & 4. CAV and CLV Criterion disc sets. CAV is 6 sides, including “specials” the CLV is 3 sides without specials. These sets both use the same transfer, done in 1988 by the Voyager companies’ legendary Maria Groumbos Palazzola. This was transferred from a 35mm “anamorphic” source (at the time of this transfer there was no 65mm/70mm telecine equipment in existence). The transfer was done in association with Full Metal Jacket’s editor, Martin Hunter and “dailies” of the transfer were sent to Stanley Kubrick in England. Kubrick faxed back comments and Palazzola has written that he required 6 runs through with changes before he would approve it. The transfer was “state of the art” for 1988, with good image detail, fairly low grain and good fidelity to Kubrick’s detailed color scheme. Even today the Criterion transfer is worthwhile viewing and no version – except the as-yet-unreleased (although broadcast) digital transfer from a new print supervised by Kubrick, using new technologies – captures the deep black of Kubrick’s space scenes as well. Unfortunately, in order to keep this deep black, many of the stars visible in the theatre simply cannot be seen, lessening the impression that the spacecraft are moving against the background. The sound was transferred from a 6 track magnetic master into the Dolby Surround format, and is as good as one could hope, adding greatly to the “you are there” feel which the small screen presentation cannot capture visually. Thankfully the film is presented with the overture and entr’acte music (short excerpts of Ligeti’s Atmospheres) and an extended playing of The Blue Danube at the end as “walk out” music. Following Criterion’s practice these are presented over a black screen.
The aspect ratio of this transfer is approximately 2.21:1, which is the 70mm aspect ratio, but this is misleading. This is because the transfer was taken from a 35mm “scope format” interpositive which was presented at 2.35:1 in the theatre (resulting in a strip being lost from the 70mm image in the theatrical presentation). When transferred to video, at 2.21:1 the sides of the 2.35:1 35mm image are also slightly compromised. Nothing important is missing from this version, but there is a small amount of image missing from the top, bottom, and sides of the original picture. The result is actually a slightly larger image than would have appeared otherwise.
5 MGM CLV “budget” transfer 3 sides. This is the first transfer of 2001 done from the original 65mm film, and the entire image, including the parts not visible in the Criterion is visible. The sound is equal to that in the Criterion. Reportedly Turner had a great deal of trouble with a “too red” oversaturated look and had to re transfer the film to get this result. Even so the color leaves much to be desired, and the prevalence of earth tones look very little like Kubrick’s color scheme. The transfer also varies in brightness from shot to shot making this, in my view, the worst version of the film, short of the pan and scans. The film is presented with amusingly inappropriate chapter titles, the funniest of which is “Beating the Bone”.
6. MGM CAV 25th Anniversary CAV box set, 6 sides. This is reportedly the same film to tape transfer as the CLV version, but it has been meticulously color corrected shot by shot before being mastered for laser disc. The result is the best video version, in my view, full of detail, low grain, with all of the stars visible and with the entire aspect ratio of the original 70mm presentation. Possibly this version does not capture the black of the space shots or Kurick’s color scheme quite as well as the Criterion, but it comes quite close. Both of the MGM versions have the overture, entr’acte and walk out music, but place intrusive titles on the screen presumably so we won’t think our TVs have broken (the CAV version has a more dignified looking title). Thankfully the 25th Anniversary CAV has re named the chapters “Beating the Bone” for example, is “The Evolution of Man”. Unfortunately the closing titles of the film are placed on a different side from the end of the movie itself, so that we miss out on the intentional contrast between the powerful final strains of Zarathustra and the “post climactic” (and humorous) Blue Danube.
This misses the 7th LD edition, an MGM CLV with Dolby ac3 5.1.
VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford