2001's Original Projection Format

by Thomas E. Brown

The original three-film process known as Cinerama was developed by Fred Waller, and debuted in 1952 with This is Cinerama. True Cinerama was used to shoot 5 travelogues which played to large audiences during the 50s, these were the afrementioend This is Cinerama, Cinerama Holiday, Seven Wonders of the World, Search for Paradise, and Cinerama South Seas Adventure. The process was then slightly modified before two fiction films were shot in it: The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) and How the West Was Won (1963) -- the last movie filmed in the three-film process (two compilation films: The Best of Cinerama and Cinerama's Russian Adventure -- actually filmed in a Soviet "copycat" process called Kinopanarama -- were shown in a few three-strip theaters).

By the time 2001 was made, Cinerama was an exhibition format only, and the movies were shot in one of three 70mm processes (Ultra Panavision 70, Super Panavision 70, or Super Techirama 70) and specially modified prints (known as "rectified" prints) were projected on the curved screen for an only partially successful simulation of the super wide angle three-film image. Ultra Panavision 70 was used for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and a few other releases; Super Panavision 70 was used in Grand Prix, 2001 and a couple of others; and Super Technirama 70 was used in Custer of the West and Circus World.

Actually 2001 has several "correct" aspect ratios. Theatrically it was shown in both the 2.21:1 flat 70mm ratio, and the 2.35:1 anamorphic (scope) 35mm format.

2001 was shot in Super Panavision 70, a process which involved principal photography on a 65mm wide, 5 sprocket hole high film frame (standard photography is on 35mm wide 4 sprocket hole high frame). This was projected back from a 70mm print, the extra 5mm being two 2.5 mm magnetic soundtrack strips "outboard" of the sprocket holes. Taken together with two magnetic strips on the inner edge of the sprocket hole area, this gave 2001 a 6 track stereo sound. In the original Cinerama installations, the film was projected on a deeply curved "louvered" screen which wrapped the image around the audience, sweeping them into the image. The Super Panavision version of Cinerama had an aspect ratio of 2.21:1 (the three-film and "rectified" Ultra Panavision versions of Cinerama were noticeably wider with an aspect ratio of 2.59:1). The sound was played back from 5 speakers behind the huge screen, with a monophonic surround track, known as an "effects" track in films of the 50s and 60s because it was only sparingly used for particular effects, such as the space station announcements: "Will Mr. Travers please contact the MET office..." and "A Blue Ladies Cashmere Sweater has been found...". During its original "roadshow" (reserved seat) run, 2001 was also shown in flat screened 70mm theaters -- which were spectacular, but had somewhat less of the "you are there" feel rendered by the curved screen Cinerama presentations.

After the 70mm run was ended, 2001 was released in a 35mm version "at popular prices" in regular theaters with a monophonic soundtrack, mixed from the 6 track original. This version was transferred to 35mm film by optically squeezing the wide image onto 35mm Scope film. It was then projected back through an anamorphic lens which would unsqueeze the compressed image onto a CinemaScope or Panavision style screen. Because 'scope has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the top and bottom of the 2.21:1 65mm image were cut off in producing the prints. Although nothing important was eliminated, a comparison viewing of a 35mm source and 70mm source will reveal the elimination of some parts of the sets, most readily visible in the moon-shuttle galley scene.

When originally released 2001 had been 161 minutes long; the movie premiered on April 2, 1968 and was cut between April 5 and 9 of the same year. Kubrick and editor Ray Lovejoy cut the film and instructions for the cuts were sent to the theaters showing it.

There are some disputes as to what was cut and when. For example, a scene of Floyd purchasing a bushbaby for "Squirt" was apparently cut before the premiere, as were shots of the moonbase painting class and B/W interviews with leading scientists about expectations for alien life. After the premiere 19 minutes were trimmed including shots of the final rendezvous between the Orion shuttle and Space Station 5, and a number of technical scenes of life aboard Discovery One, as well as longer exercising shots with Poole. In one instance, footage was added: a few frames of the monolith at sunrise were inserted at the moment Moonwatcher intuits the first use of the bone-tool, in order to make clear to audiences the causality of the event. Also, the title cards "Jupiter Mission..." and "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" were added at this time.

Most important among the deletions however, was the entire preparation for Poole's EVA, which opens the second half of the film following the intermission, and which was virtually a repeat of the preparation for Bowman's EVA during the first half of the film (at one time Bowman's preparation was longer, as well, featuring a scene in which he removes the AE 35 from a storage locker). Sadly, other than stills, I have never seen any of this footage. When film restorationist Robert Harris checked out the status of 2001, during the restoration of Spartacus, he found that Turner did not have any of the trims. Kubrick himself may have copies of them. [For more information on these trims please see Thomas Brown's article "2001's Post-Premiere Edits" -- Ed.]

For the remainder of the roadshow the film was presented with an overture and entr'acte (intermission music) both of which were excerpts from Ligeti's Atmospheres. The closing credits version of The Blue Danube also extended for a short time after the credits ended, as "walk out" music. This music added approximately 10 minutes to the running time of the film. When 2001 was released at "popular prices" after the roadshow, the overture, entr'acte, and "walkout" music were eliminated (as was the intermission itself), but the film itself wasn't edited. In the better video versions, this music has been restored. The recent LBX Turner digital transfer (from a print supervised by Kubrick himself) includes the overture, intermission title, and roadshow version end-titles.