Rename The Motion Picture

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by King Daniel Beyond, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Oh, good grief, you couldn't be more wrong. The explanation had nothing to do with technobabble and everything to do with who HAL was as a character and the unfair and impossible situation he was placed in by his uncaring superiors. He was made to relay accurate information -- in other words, to be truthful. Yet the bureaucrats who sent him on the Jupiter mission programmed him to keep secrets from his crew -- to lie to them. They didn't realize how that would traumatize him, because lying and coverups came easily to them. To HAL, it meant being forced to go against his most fundamental instincts. And the severe cognitive dissonance that caused him, his inability to cope with the situation, led to a psychotic break.

    So while the movie gives the impression that "He's just evil because he's inhuman," the book -- and the movie sequel -- reveals exactly the opposite, that it was the decisions of humans that caused HAL's breakdown. Essentially, humanity created a being without original sin and then forced him to become a sinner like themselves, and it broke him. That's much deeper than technobabble.



    And I don't think it's constructive to define every problem in terms of who to blame. A fixation on blame is not a healthy way to cope with problems. It's more important to understand how they came about and how they could be/could have been fixed or avoided, rather than wasting effort on some petty scapegoat hunt. Responsibility is a worthwhile concept; blame is just vindictive.


    But they didn't have to lock down the production date so far in advance. They could've waited to settle on a date until they had a realistic assessment of how long it would take to make the film, but instead they locked it down prematurely, which was hardly fair to the filmmakers once it turned out that the schedule they'd been trapped into was too tight.

    Besides, films change release date all the time. Remember, the most recent Trek film was originally going to come out in the winter of 2008, but was then postponed to summer 2009 because the writers' strike left that season a bit empty and they wanted something strong to fill the gap.


    You're forgetting, they had the FX shots in, more than they needed, which was the problem. They put all the FX shots they had into the rough cut, and the intention was then to go through that cut and refine and trim it, see what the best pacing and the best ratio of different scenes and shots would be. They started with more material than they needed so they'd have the option to trim it down in a variety of ways -- so they'd have coverage, as they say. I do the same thing when I write, as do lots of other writers -- start out with more than I need and then decide what's expendable. That's how editing works.

    If you're going to second-guess the editorial judgment of the man who edited Citizen Kane, at the very least you should get your facts straight first.


    In your opinion based on a modern way of thinking about cinema, one conditioned by our modern generation when everything is so much faster-paced and people are so much more impatient. Personally I'm disappointed that so many modern films buy into that same rush-rush-rush mentality and devote so little time to moments of grandeur that deserve a more stately, contemplative presentation. I think those four minutes of flying over V'Ger are some of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring images in cinema history, and the best evocation of true alienness that Star Trek has ever managed to produce. They don't just give us a glimpse and a superficial impression; they let us really examine V'Ger and take the time to absorb it, as did the Enterprise flyby before. I, for one, appreciate that. They're also beautiful works of art by Trumbull, Dykstra, and their teams, and I appreciate the chance to really examine that artistry and soak in its details rather than just having it race by.
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    You're mischaracterizing much of what I said.

    It was common practice to block book films into theaters. TMP had about a year after principle photography to be completed, and that's normally enough time. The politics around the firing of ASTRA (Able) and Trumbull's taking over made this deadline tighter. But this kind of thing happens all the time, and a good producer deals with it.

    And I'm sorry, but TMP's effects mess contributed to the editorial problems. Had they trimmed back the number of shots when they realized they had a problem they could have had a more normal final edit process. I'm not saying they had too few effects shots, but they had too many and waiting for those to be delivered injured the film's post production process.

    I said nothing about a rush-rush mentality, merely that it was bad producing to not limit the risks by trimming unnecessary shots (as Trumbull did when he convinced Wise to scrap the existing spacewalk in favor of something achievable). I'd appreciate it if you'd not put words in my mouth, and to read what I write instead of fabricating argument I've not made.
     
  3. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    Gene's office
    OK, well, I think you're wrong. So, how about that?

    2001, the film, most certainly does not give the impression that HAL is evil because he's inhuman. I don't know where you get that from. If anything, the problems come because HAL is too human.

    If you're going to bring Abrahamic religion into it: HAL is made in Man's image. The problem is that God didn't make HAL; Man did. In that sense, Man is trying to act like God, except that Man is not infallible. Furthermore, Man's is a flawed image in which to create something in the first place.

    Humans are responsible for HAL's failures. You said that. I said that. We agree. Even HAL said that in the first film. So, I don't even know what the hoopla is all about, anyway.

    However, the idea that evil bureaucrats did an end run around the noble scientists is not something that I would call deep. Maybe in 1968 that was cutting edge, but by 1984 it was a cliché. By pointing in another direction, it actually undercuts the idea presented in the first film, that mankind must take a fundamentally new step to further his cosmic evolution, not one to shed himself of the evil bureaucrats mucking up the works, but rather one to overcome his innate flaws arising out of his own mortality.

    The idea that HAL is some naïve truth-teller, and that we should show him sympathy as if he were a human character, while interesting, and alluring, is unfortunately fundamentally implausible, because it paradoxically requires HAL to have an irrational core, in order to be susceptible to psychosis. The explanation itself is therefore self-contradictory, as it requires that HAL be intrinsically endowed with irrational traits, besides just the rational trait of being a truth-teller, and be so endowed before he's mucked up by the bureaucrats. This is why I said, in my post, that the explanation as given does not stand up to close inspection. To be plausible, at some level you have to accept that the scientists failed in their job, too. Their failure may not have been ethical, but rather intellectual, but it was still failure nevertheless. They certified that HAL was, in all practical senses, foolproof, but he was not. They did not anticipate all the kinds of bugs that HAL could have. They made one of the classic blunders in computer science, in not anticipating that the user would not follow the instructions given in the manual. It's just politics at that point who gets blamed, and 2010 was certainly heavy-handed and shallow in its politics.

    Dragging good and evil into it is barking up the wrong tree, I think, because most everything that happens in 2001 is a double-edged sword. So-called good and evil are hand-in-hand throughout the whole film. Unless of course that is the point of bringing up good and evil in the first place, to observe that they go hand-in-hand throughout mankind's cosmic evolution.
     
  4. Jimi_James

    Jimi_James Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky
    I think TMP is the one Trek film that could and should stand with the lone Star Trek title. It doesn't need anything else.
     
  5. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    England
    I always thought 2001 was a sci-fi movie for people who are having trouble sleeping.
     
  6. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Location:
    inside teacake
    It IS a terrible name. You might as well call it Star Trek: The Talkie. Terrible.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    How can I be wrong when I'm telling you the explanation that Arthur C. Clarke himself explicitly spelled out in the original novel of 2001? That was the explanation, always. Here it is in Clarke's own words, from Chapter 27, "Need to Know," of the original novel published in 1968:

    See? Not a single word of "yackety technobabble" like you claimed. No "Hofstadter-Möbius loop" or whatever you were talking about. Only an explanation in straightforward, completely understandable, character-based terms of HAL's personality and motivations. I can't be wrong about that when it's right there on the page. I didn't make up the explanation -- Sir Arthur did that before I was even born.


    No, the film itself doesn't give that impression, because it doesn't explain a damn thing. It just shows HAL becoming homicidal without explanation. The problem is the context in which that took place. The portrayal of computers and robots in popular culture at the time wasn't generally as sympathetic as it is today. They had Robbie and the Lost in Space Robot, but they hadn't had Data or Voyager's EMH or Johnny Five or friendly Terminators or the like. The default portrayal at the time was more along the lines of Landru or M-5 -- that because AIs were inhuman, soulless machines, they were intrinsically evil and would inevitably turn on us. Since the movie didn't give the book's explanation, since it just showed HAL murdering people for no apparent reason, it did nothing to dispel the impression that it was just another iteration of the same pervasive trope.


    Again, not me; I'm just following Sir Arthur's lead. It's right there on the page -- a snake in HAL's Eden. His metaphor, not mine, since I was at most a fetus at the time he wrote it and in no position to influence his choice of allusions.


    Then I guess you haven't seen all the complaints I've seen over the years from people who condemn the film 2010 for "creating" an explanation that they consider to be an unnecessary retcon, because they're ignorant of the fact that it's the same explanation Clarke came up with at the beginning, the explanation that anyone who actually read the original book would've known about for decades. People who are only familiar with Kubrick's version see it as a mystery, devoid of explanation for anything that happens, and often think it's supposed to be that way. But people familiar with the book -- or people like me who read the book many times before ever seeing the movie -- see a story where just about everything was given a clear explanation from the start. As I said, it reflects the bizarre mismatch of Clarke's style and Kubrick's. I guess you could say they complemented each other, but it's an odd complementarity given what black-and-white opposites they were in their approach.


    My point is simply that it's deeper than the "yackety technobabble" you misremembered it as being. It's not "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and repolarize the isolytic tetryon field," it's a character-driven explanation. That's all I'm saying, that there's nothing technobabbly about it.


    But, see, that's just my point! It's NOT a retcon! It's the original explanation that was there from the beginning, from the creation of the story back in the late 1960s. It's just that Kubrick didn't include it in the film, leaving Clarke to explain it in the simultaneously developed and written novel. It was always the real explanation, but since Kubrick didn't like explaining stuff, people who only saw the movie had to make up their own interpretations, unaware that there was already a perfectly good explanation available to anyone who read the book.


    And here we have the same problem. I guess you haven't read the novel 2010: Odyssey Two that the film was adapted from. They're very different works where the politics are concerned. In the novel, Clarke presented the same optimistic future of US/Soviet cooperation and friendly relations that he'd presented in the original novel. If there was any political message in Clarke's novel at all, it was that it was better to be apolitical, to work together with people of other nations who shared our common interests, as he had done with people in the Soviet space program and scientific community over the decades. But when Peter Hyams made the movie, it was during a tense period in the Cold War, so he decided to make the story more topical by replacing the book's friendly, casual US-Soviet interaction with a world where the Cold War had heated up to the brink of nuclear armageddon -- which dated the film badly when the Soviet Union fell just five years later.

    You can't really understand 2001 and 2010 if you approach them only as movies. The former was developed in conjunction with an Arthur C. Clarke novel; the latter was adapted from a Clarke novel written two years earlier. Until you've read the books, you can only have an incomplete understanding of the creative process or the content of the films.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    You forget that they were working to an impossible deadline. Wise took the film canisters on the flight with him to the premiere at the Smithsonian.

    You don't cut the expensive stuff out until after you get a chance to preview it.
     
  9. Jimi_James

    Jimi_James Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky
    I love those long indulgence shots. For me, that's part of what makes the whole movie. They had stuff to show off and it looked good. It still looks good today, even better with the updated collectors edition DVD. I like that it's not a film you can just throw on the tv and watch it like some action flick. It something you have to sit down and experience...at least to me that's what it is.

    I rate TMP very highly and while TWoK certainly gets the credit it deserves, (it set the tone and style for much of what we know of as Trek today) I enjoy TMP much more than Khan...I also like TSFS more than Khan. But I'm just weird like that. lol
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, I am someone who's perfectly happy with the pacing of TMP... yet I find TWOK to be sluggishly paced and tedious. Perhaps it's because TWOK is actually trying to be an action movie but the action unfolds so slowly. The ships move ponderously, and there are scenes where Kirk and Khan just sit there silently for 5-10 seconds before responding to an imminent, life-threatening event.
     
  11. skree

    skree Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Star Trek: The Becoming

    Star Trek: The Prodigal Son
     
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Funny, cause Robert Wise wasn't.

    I also notice that you haven't knowledged that you tried to put words in my mouth, which a gentleman would apologize for having done.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^Oh, come on. I could say the same about your characterization of some of the things I've said. It's just talking past each other and having different interpretations of the issue. I responded to the words you wrote. Those are my only insight into your meaning. If you think I didn't understand what you meant, then choose different words that convey it better. How am I supposed to know you were talking about having more FX shots than they needed when your actual words were "...waiting for the effects shots to come in," which suggests the exact opposite of what you subsequently said you meant? I can't read your mind, only your posts.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Show me a place where I put words in your mouth. Please. Point me to a post.

    And don't try to make this about my writing and that I need to write better. That's the cheapest dodge imaginable.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I'm sorry, but all I can tell you is that what I interpreted your words to mean in that instance is the opposite of what you subsequently said you meant. I'm just not following what it is you're trying to say. I don't know why you're taking that so personally; it's just the kind of disagreement that happens all the time on discussion boards. But you're starting to get abusive and I think I may have to withdraw from the discussion.
     
  16. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    Gene's office
    Well, FWIW, I intend to reply to your most recent post to me, even if it's just for the record. It will likely take a while to compose, though, and I haven't had the opportunity to work on nothing but, yet.
     
  17. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    The Bay Area
    The tone has become more and more derisive and bullish in this thread. What started as a fun little thread has once again devolved in order to showcase how right one person is over another. This isn't the first time this has happened and I'm sure it won't be the last. Quite frankly, it's all unfortunately come from Christopher. I'm not making this personal, but it's hard to deny that instead of engaging in debate, we're being both lectured and ridiculed. For instance:

    That sets the tone right there. Whatever may come afterward regards of accuracy or compelling argument is made lesser by this dismissive tone, which is a shame because some good points are made. And before I'm dinged on this — tone does carry in text and is set by syntax and diction. (Christopher and other Trek novelist aren't the only professional writers in this thread or on this board.)

    And that tone continues to carry forth later in the same post when speaking on points made by Maurice.

    We're being lectured here. When in fact, it was Christopher who brought up "fault":

    More than that, when all else fails there's an appeal to authority, as in:

    First, comparing the process of solitary writing, that of a novel or short story, isn't an apt comparison. It's apples and oranges. More than that, the appeal to authority is quite apparent. I write and this is how I do it (and others too) so that's how all editing works.

    I find that really belittling, Now, here's where I appeal to authority. There are many other forms of writing and each writing in itself unique. Take journalistic writing, which I have done professionally. Editing often happens in tandem with the actually writing. A reporter edits stuff that's not necessary while typing up the piece. There's often no luxury to throw everything into a piece then edit afterward.

    Moreover, filmmaking is a whole lot of variables wrapped in a blanket of constraints. If this isn't finished, that affects this and it must be within this budget and timeframe. It is dependent on the work of others, which solitary writing is not.

    Two, the appeal to Wise's expertise as an editor doesn't apply in this case. He was the director, the driver of the entire production on TMP, rather than the single cog in CITIZEN KANE. Nor does that expertise absolve him of missteps in judgement to get another production in the can. Different roles, different productions.

    That and no one was second guessing. Even Wise, as Maurice has pointed out in the past and the director has been on record as saying, admits to missteps made, even in the editorial process.

    Having expertise doesn't absolve anyone of criticism or being called out for errors in his/her work.

    Third, there's a tone of authority and expertise in the post that's undeserved.

    The post also assumes something that doesn't exist in Maurice's original post:


    There was no opinion on "modern way of thinking about cinema, one conditioned by our modern generation" in the original post. Nor was there not one mention of "faster-paced" or "rush-rush-rush mentality." It's been grossly mischaracterized. What was actually being stated has been a part of cinema since the beginning. What do I need and not need. Being to the point with every shot, every line of dialogue. That's what was being brought up in Maurice's post, not a call for a more modern approach.

    Consider other ponderous science-fiction films, such as 2001. Every shot was deliberate, meaningful. Can the same be said of every effect shot in TMP? Not really. And that's what was being argued, not "rush-rush-rush mentality."

    And finally, this:

    When all else fails, an ad hominem attack. Yes, the thread has truly become "I'm right, you're wrong. Write better. Nener nener."

    Whatever interesting discussion was to be had has now been vaporized into wisps of smoke and ash.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    As someone who lectures other people on word choice, it's ironic that you use "abusive" to characterize my replies.
    "...choose different words that convey it better."

    Pot. Meet kettle.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    You're right. I apologize for that. I should've chosen my words more carefully.



    Not my intention. I was just expressing a belief.


    Actually, no; I specifically put "fault" in quotes in order to acknowledge that I was, well, quoting the word choice of the person I was responding to. Using quotes that way is generally meant to distance oneself from the word choice, to say, "This isn't how I would choose to phrase it and I'm simply echoing another person's use." (Though unfortunately a lot of people use quotation marks for emphasis, with the exact opposite meaning, and that can obscure their usage.) I was saying "I don't think it's constructive to find fault, but if I were going to approach the question that way, I'd focus more on this factor than that other one."


    No, it's an analogy. And the comparison isn't about writing, it's about editing. I was going to make an analogy involving a sculptor taking material away from a block of marble rather than adding to it, but I realized an analogy that came from my own personal experience might feel a little less abstract and more trustworthy. Although I guess that requires having some trust in the speaker, and I'm afraid I haven't always been very good at evoking that trust in others on the BBS, which I deeply regret.


    No, that's really not how I meant it at all, and I'm sorry it came across that way


    In the theatrical release, no, because it was unfinished. But in the Director's Edition? I'd have to disagree. You're stating your opinion as a fact, but my opinion, which I'm every bit as entitled to, is that the pacing of the TMP Director's Edition is quite good and I don't find it wasteful at all. That's all I've intended to do at any point here -- express my opinions. I do tend to convey them rather emphatically at times, and again I apologize for my brusqueness, but I really am just trying to participate in an exchange of views. Frankly I'm starting to get the impression that you perceive your own opinions as facts, and perhaps that's coloring your perception of my intentions in expressing my opinions.


    As for my reactions to Maurice, I do think he's being unreasonable and oversensitive, and I know because I recognize his reaction from times when I've done exactly the same. I'm trying to improve, but I'm not the only person on this BBS who could stand to dial back their posting style. Anyway, whatever dispute I'm having with him is really not your problem, is it?


    I apologize, CorporalCaptain, but I'm not going to be able to read your reply. The tone in this thread is getting too negative, and I concede that I've inadvertently contributed to that, but in any case I don't feel this is a healthy conversation to participate in anymore.
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    Gene's office
    Well, that's too bad.

    Some of my points would have to do with separating criticism of the films from criticisms of the books. I think that right there is where some of our disagreement has originated. In particular, my criticism of the film 2010, doesn't necessarily apply to its novel, or to the novel of 2001. Similarly with you and your criticisms of the film 2001.

    A second point worth restating and elaborating on is that my criticism of the technobabble in the film 2010 in part has to do with the shift in tone, relative to the first film, in absolving one group on the project while blaming the other. The dichotomy of splitting humanity into two groups is a theme repeated in at least four points in 2001: the two tribes of apes, the Russians and Americans, Frank and Dave, and then finally (in a broader sense) HAL and Dave. Arguably, the dichotomy of the Monolith and Dave is a fifth and even broader instance. In 2001, this dichotomy is universal. In the case of programming HAL, humanity is split into scientists and bureaucrats. I argue that it only makes sense if both are at partial fault. If the main function of an explanation is to shift blame entirely to one side or the other, then it is to be criticized as going against theme, even if in and of itself the explanation is otherwise fine. But there were also numerous technical problems in the explanation worth clarifying, at least with respect to how the explanation is interpreted, and it was worth clarifying to which versions each of my criticisms applied.

    Unfortunately, connecting the dots and making that explicit, and raising the other points I wanted to, including to defend what I said in the first place, is a lengthy process. To me, the film 2001 is a life-altering masterpiece, or it wouldn't be worth the effort even to think about.

    I appreciate your apology and your reply. If I don't submit the detailed and polished reply I had originally envisioned (and yeah it's looking like I probably won't), then the above at least names and summarizes some of the points that I intended to addresses and defend.