SETI Carl Sagan cut out of 2001: A Space Odyssey!

Larry Klaes (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 13:52:51 -0400

The following is from ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.3 - JUNE 1999. Talking With Con Pederson by William Moritz In early May, William Moritz visited with Con Pederson, a visual effects pioneer, who worked closely with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Credited as one of four Special Photographic Effects Supervisors on the film, he and Doug Trumbull created a myriad of stars, planets, and space ships, plus the unforgettable stargate sequence. The interview at this Web page URL: Now I do not have my copy of The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective (New York: Doubleday, 1973) handy, but I am trying to remember if Sagan mentioned in it his being filmed for 2001? Sagan was consulted by Kubrick and Clarke on how to make the ETI look (Answer: Leave it up to the imaginations of the film audience). See this Web page for details: I have also read in several places that the Stargate scene with the diamond shapes swirling above a multicolor landscape were in fact the ETI who created the Monoliths and the Humanity Evolution Liftup Program, or HELP. At least they were definitely not humanoids. No doubt Sagan was consulted due to his co-authoring of one of the early serious science books on the subject of alien life -- Carl Sagan and I.S. Shklovskii, Intelligent Life in the Universe (New York: Random House, 1966). The book came out during the early filming of 2001. Although it would have been neat to see (or at least hear) a young Sagan waxing poetic about alien beings, I am glad they removed the narration, as that is what makes 2001 so wonderful: It left the details up to the audience to fill in and - gasp - think about! Had 2001 explained more, it would have become like 2010, a nice technical film but with little mystery and far too much on-screen talking. The relevant quote: That whole Stargate sequence replaced what originally was a trip through the cosmos to see where the extraterrestrials were coming from. We had toyed with the idea of the extraterrestrials being defined and explained by a narrator. We thought of different narrators and I suggested a guy named Doug Raine who had done a film on astronomy in Canada that was really great. I got the film and Stanley liked Doug's voice, but it turned out that he had to have a new voice for Hal, the computer, which was originally a woman called Athena in the first version. Anyway, Hal 9000 needed a voice and Stanley tried quite a lot of people for it, and didn't care for any of the voices. At that point, we threw out the narrator -- decided it was going to be too preachy, too stodgy to have a narrator, and too much of a documentary -- so we tried Doug Raine as the voice of the computer and the rest is history: he was perfect for it! But originally he would have been the narrator of the film: there was even a prologue in black-and-white, along the lines of Cinerama, where you started in black-and-white and open up, which is by now a well-entrenched cliché, to mix a metaphor. For that we shot Carl Sagan, and a lot of the eminent astronomers of the time, talking about the cosmos. That whole thing was thrown out -- again it was too dry, too didactic. Went through a lot of permutations, there was a stack of scripts. Arthur Clarke would come from Ceylon and spend a few weeks until he'd get worried about taxes and then he'd have to leave the country and go on tour. It was entertaining. Larry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun Jul 11 1999 - 00:43:13 PDT