2001

Since October, the British Film Institute has been honoring all things science fiction with its celebration, “Sci-Fi: Days of Fear of Wonder.” One of the films the institute is screening is a digitally remastered version of Stanley Kubrick’s magnum opus, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

Physicist, radio astronomer and the first director of England’s Jodrell Bank Observatory Bernard Lovell aided Kubrick with the making of ‘2001’. As Kubrick intended on making the film as scientifically accurate as possible, he initially included a prologue to the movie with interviews of Lovell and 20 other scientists sharing their thoughts on space travel and the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life.

Because of the film’s length, the prologue ended up on the cutting room floor. The footage is now unfortunately lost, but the transcript survived and is published in the book, ‘Are We Alone?: The Stanley Kubrick Extraterrestrial Intelligence Interviews’.

When the prologue was shot in 1966, Lovell seems to accurately predict that many habitable planets may exist in the universe. Although there was no proof then, the Kepler Space telescope has found thousands of exoplanets. With 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, there are billions of Earth-sized planets that may be capable of sustaining life in our cosmic neighborhood alone.

Astrophysicist and Jodrell’s associate director Tim O’Brien states, “I was amazed when I heard about this interview. Lovell’s speculation about contacting [alien] civilisations in advance of us by tens of thousands or even a million years, was interesting.”

Jodrell serves as the international headquarters of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), an effort to build the world’s largest radio telescopes in South Africa’s Karoo desert and Australia’s Murchison region. In the prologue, Lovell does state that Seti (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) may take away from radio astronomy. O’Brien states that the SKA telescope array will focus on observing black holes and other celestial objects, but it will also be utilized for Seti.

So, Kubrick fans, would you have wanted to see a prologue to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’? How do you think it would’ve affected the presentation of the film?

Source: The Guardian