Tuesday 30 December 2014

Johann Strauss: "The Blue Danube" … in Space.

Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

Even if you hate sci-fi, chances are you'll have something good to say about Stanley Kubrick's 1968 “2001: A Space Odyssey”, based on Arthur C. Clarke's novel.

I was too young to watch it the year it was released, but I didn't have to wait much. Sometime in the early 1970s I watched it. It was the years of the Apollo Program and the future seemed like a great adventure.

It didn't last long. By 1982 with Ridley Scott's “Blade Runner”, and Michael Radford's “1984”, the future started to look somewhat bleaker. I was growing up, I guess. And over time, my impressions just got worse. (Shortly after Jan 1, 2001, I remember telling a workmate something like: “Gee, the future looks surprisingly like the past, only crappier”. Don't ask me today.)

If you haven't seen it: it's a great movie. There's little dialogue. Keir Dullea, as Commander Dave Bowman, is terrific.

But the soundtrack is, well, just superb. Given that I'm far from being Nietzsche's greatest fan, you'll be surprised to read that one of the highlights is Richard Strauss' “Also sprach Zarathustra”; but the compositions by Aram Khachaturian ("Gayane") and György Ligeti are not far behind.

Anyway (and this is the by far the absolute high water mark of the movie for me, thanks to that other Strauss, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, and directed by Herbert von Karajan) this is how the future looked like to me back in the early 1970s:

Well, I'll wish readers a happy 2015. Hopefully, the next year will look more like “2001” than “1984”.

PS: The interruption in the video means a lot to me, even if it's only accidental.

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