2001

The recent Acad­e­my Awards remind­ed me of a bit of triv­ia that I’ve had rolling around in my head for many, many years.

I have been a big fan of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey since I saw it in the the­ater in 1968 when I was 13 years old. I believe I man­aged to see it in the the­ater two or three times, an unprece­dent­ed event for me (and has rarely, if ever, hap­pened since).

In 1970 the book The Mak­ing of Kubrick­’s 2001 came out. I bought it prompt­ly. There are a cou­ple of pages devot­ed to the efforts required to make men look like ape for the open­ing sequence of the movie. At the end is a quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “2001 did not win the Acad­e­my Award for make­up because judges may not have real­ized apes were actors.” For a few decades I remem­bered that with the small addi­tion that the award for make-up went to Plan­et of the Apes. It turns out that the Best Make­up cat­e­go­ry did not exist until 1981.

But Plan­et of the Apes “was giv­en a Spe­cial Hon­orary Oscar for John Cham­bers’ ground-break­ing, out­stand­ing make­up.” Per­haps this is what Clarke was referencing.

For those who may not remem­ber what 2001’s apes looked like (the baby apes are real):

That make­up leaves the apes in Plan­et of the Apes look­ing very bad indeed.

Anoth­er bit of triv­ia that I learned from The Mak­ing of… is that “in the mid­dle of Absolute­ly Nowhere, Africa, the 2001 car ran into an oncom­ing truck and two of the pho­tog­ra­phers were injured.” I have cit­ed this in con­ver­sa­tion once or twice in my life when some­one observed that a cer­tain dri­ver was safe because there was no traf­fic where he or she was dri­ving. The car of pho­tog­ra­phers was in Africa tak­ing pics to use for the back­grounds of the ape sequence that was filmed in the stu­dio in England.

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