While Kubrick was devising the musical accompaniment to 2001: A Space Odyssey, he ordered hundreds of classical records trying to find the perfect match to the scene of a spaceship floating through space.
Waltzing across a vinyl-filled garage to the strains of the Blue Danube, he told his wife that he wanted to make space travel seem like “child’s play”.
Not the case in 2010, but the enormity of that vision hardly fails to impress. Particularly if your first time seeing it is with a live orchestra on Southbank during the See Further Festival over the last coupleof weeks. Although I don’t quite see the logic of the giant space baby.*
But the reinterpretation of 2001 by Bowie Jr., Moon, made me wonder if our view of space travel and exploration has changed over the last 40 years. Kubrick began to create 2001 in the aftermath of the Second World War and more pertinently, the Cold War. With a constant tone of apocalypse, however, exaggerated, it isn’t entirely surprising that Kubrick explores the breadth of human achievement, epitomised by that famous flipping bone sequence.
Moon, by contrast is one man (well, several men, but let’s not spoil it), and completely skews Kubrick’s grand theme of rebirth and eternity. Perhaps unsurprisingly in our current decade of networks built in the solitude of our rooms, Moon explores loneliness and our connections with intelligent machines and other individuals.
This is about as far as my brain has grappled with our current perception of space travel. If you have more intelligible thoughts, then please leave them below.
*Spoiler: The meaning of the ‘star-baby’ has eluded most mainstream audiences. Understandably, perhaps, since it represents a confusing mix of tropes. Let’s list a few: the human condition, the womb, evolution, Jesus, reincarnation, enlightenment. Arguably the most symbolic foetus in cinematic history.