Jodrell Bank : The Kubrick Connection

Photo Credits : Anthony Holloway

Early in October 2014, we were delighted to be able to form a creative partnership with Abandon Normal Devices (AND) in order to deliver ‘Watch the Skies’ a weekend celebration of Sci-Fi film at Jodrell Bank as part of the British Film Institute’s ‘Days of Fear and Wonder’ series.

The weekend programme included outdoor screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien, as well as world premieres of original commissions for Soup Collective and Oneohtrix Point Never.

Alongside that (of course) we ran our usual range of science engagement activities (it was great to see AND’s perspective of it in their blog here).

The weekend was a great success (we were lucky with the weather!) thanks not only to AND, but also to our long-term partners Ground Control and Bluman Associates, who produced and projected things in fine form.

There is a back-story, however, that has a lasting legacy.

Behind the scenes, we had been surprised (and excited) to find that there was a direct link between Jodrell Bank and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 1966, Kubrick was working to ensure that his new film, 2001: A Space Odyssey had the credibility that Sci-Fi often lacked in popular culture. In order to do this, he assembled a list of renowned thinkers of the time and filmed interviews with them in which they spoke about the possibility of alien cultures, intelligent computers and the origins of life. One of these esteemed thinkers was the renowned physicist and radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, founder of Jodrell Bank.

The original plan was that the interviews would be shown as a prologue to Kubrick’s yet-to-be made sci-fi masterpiece. The short film is now lost, but the transcript of the interview with Lovell still exists and became the inspiration for AND to commission Soup Collective  to celebrate the meeting of these two great minds.

The film included recordings of current Jodrell Bank staff, reading out Lovell’s words from the interview transcript and was projected onto the Lovell Telescope just prior to the screening of 2001.

We are currently working on a second version of the film that will be shown as part of the bluedot festival.

Teresa Anderson

Updated 31:05:16