Friday, September 6, 2013

Kubrick's Odyssey: Did Stanley Have a Secret?

Kubrick’s Odyssey (officially subtitled Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick: Part One: Kubrick and Apollo – whew!) is a rather crude but fascinating documentary. To accept its thesis may require opening your mind wide enough for a fleet of alien spacecraft to enter while performing acrobatic feats, but it’s not without interest to fans of the late director.

Weidner, the film’s writer and director, starts out by claiming that the Pentagon was so impressed with the way Kubrick imagined the interior of a B52 bomber in Dr. Strangelove, despite having been denied permission to see one, that they asked the director to fake the Apollo 11 moon landing.

“It was a deal with the devil in a way,” Weidner says, “or at least that’s how Stanley Kubrick came to view it.”

Once the offer was made, Kubrick really had no choice but to accept since to refuse after learning of NASA’s intent to deceive the world might be dangerous. Weidner believes that once Kubrick came on board, he became “privy to the main secrets of an occult society that rules the earth.”

In exchange for helping NASA fabricate the 1969 moon landing, Kubrick would become the artist that he wished to be, with complete freedom to do as he pleased.

This thesis, though rather dubious, is worth some brief consideration. After 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick enjoyed more freedom in dollar-driven Hollywood than the box-office performance of his films would warrant. It mattered not that 1975’s Barry Lyndon cost more than Warner Bros. could ever hope to recoup, or that none of his films were blockbusters on a par with the average Steven Spielberg offering. Kubrick operated with complete autonomy, even spending more than a year filming Eyes Wide Shut, in which he reconstructed New York City in England rather than travel to the U.S.

Unlike many conspiracy theorists, Weidner doesn’t claim that the moon landing was a total fraud. He believes it happened. However, he does not believe that we saw the real thing on TV or that rocket technology got us there. Weidner doesn’t say what kind of power he thinks fueled NASA’s trip to the moon or why the space agency would want to fabricate an alternate version for the public, only that what we saw was fiction created by Kubrick.

Using scenes from 2001, Weidner reveals how rear screen projection with a beaded screen made by 3M, helped create the illusion in the early “Dawn of Man” sequence that the apes were outdoors when, in fact, the entire segment was filmed on an indoor soundstage. He then compares it to NASA footage in which he finds evidence of the same trickery being used. Weidner uses a song, “Under the Masonic Moon,” on the soundtrack, but does not delve into the rumored influence of Freemasonry on Kubrick’s films, especially 2001 which some regard as Kubrick’s version of what Freemasons call “The Great Work.” (Weidner’s film is the first volume in a series and part one does not discuss the overt occult symbolism in Eyes Wide Shut, his final film, which Weidner believes cost the director his life.)

The most fascinating part is when Weidner moves on to 1980's The Shining, which he claims is Kubrick’s sly, symbolic confession that he faked the moon landing for NASA. The Overlook Hotel in the film represents America which, like the hotel, was built on the remains of dead Indians. Symbols of the space program are everywhere, from the Apollo 11 sweatshirt that the kid, Danny, is seen wearing, to the resemblance of actor Barry Nelson, as the manager of the Overlook, to JFK, the president of the U.S. at the time that the space program began.

I don’t believe any of it, but Weidner’s ideas are intriguing, comparable to all of those “clues” in Beatles albums of the late ‘60s that some fans were convinced provided evidence that Paul McCartney had died in a car crash (referenced in “A Day in the Life”) and was replaced by a cosmetically altered double. Like the best of the Beatles, Kubrick’s work is so fascinating, so multi-layered, that such theories, bizarre though they may be, are a tribute to his genius. And he did, indeed, seem to possess forbidden knowledge. Kubrick’s Odyssey is a perverse guilty pleasure for admirers of this late, lamented cinema giant.

© 2013 Brian W. Fairbanks


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