Near-Future Shock

Daah . . . daaaah . . . daaaaah . . . DAH-DUM!! (boom-boom boom-boom boom-boom boom-boom) . . .

Yeah, get used to it. Just as the recent new year's celebration got us plenty sick of the Artist Who Back When He Still Had Some Vestige of Sanity Was Known As Prince's "1999" -- not to mention of the very terms "millennium" and "Y2K" -- so, a year hence, should we be pretty well worn out on Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra," now better known as "Theme From 2001."

According to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1968 film with which that piece of music is now inextricably linked, by this time next year Pan Am should be making regular commercial flights to gracefully wheeling orbital space stations, we should have thriving colonies on the moon, and evidence of extraterrestrial life should be discovered there. But if all this seems a bit naive in retrospect, the movie did offer one prophecy that's hard to smirk at now -- that computers, by the turn of the century, would become our faintly patronizing and sometimes seemingly malicious superiors. Who has never muttered "Open the pod bay doors, HAL," while you tried to get some non-user-friendly function to do what you wanted?

Stanley Kubrick didn't live until the year that he made prematurely famous -- he died last year, shortly after completing what was probably his lamest work, Eyes Wide Shut. Hopefully, as a counterpoint to the very justified mockery that Eyes received, the coming year will bring a revival of interest in 2001, the film that solidified Kubrick's fame as a director. Love it or hate it -- and a legitimate case can be made either way -- it's undeniably a classic, unforgettable work, with imagery and ideas that don't leave you once you've seen it. If you never have, you may want to check out the (wide-screen video) showing on Friday, January 7, at Mesa Arts Center, as part of the ongoing "MAC Movies 6" film series. Movie maven Fred Linch will host the screening and the discussion; yours truly will co-host.

A tidbit: According to Frank Robinson's new book Science Fiction of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History (Collectors Press; $59.95), the supercilious supercomputer HAL's name was a play on IBM -- one letter up from each.

2001: A Space Odyssey continues the monthly cinema series "MAC Movies 6" at 7 p.m. Friday, January 7, at Mesa Arts Center, 155 North Center. Admission is free; a $2 donation is suggested. The series continues on Friday, February 11, with Jacques Doillon'sPonette. For details call 480-644-2242.

 
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