Letter Reveals Why Kubrick Worried About Offending IBM With 2001: A Space Odyssey

By Kristy Puchko 2013-01-05 11:11:00discussion comments
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One of the most iconic and troubling depictions of the battle of man versus machine came in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the 1968 sci-fi classic, an astronaut named Dave is forced to shut down his spacecraft's malfunctioning computer called HAL after it caused the death of his crewmates. To achieve the film's groundbreaking look, Kubrick did scads of research, including speaking with technology giant IBM.

Grateful for their consultations and the contribution of the company's logo to the film, Kubrick had planned to include IBM in the end credits. But before those were finalized he wanted to be sure this thanks would be welcomed by the company, since the computer at the movie's center is essentially a cold-blooded murderer. So, he asked Roger Caras, the Vice President of Kubrick's production company Polaris Productions, to check into the matter. You can read his query and Roger's reply below, thanks to Letters of Note (via io9):





Though it appears IBM did not have access to the 2001: A Space Odyssey's shooting script, the company was totally aware that there was a killer computer in the film. Nonetheless, they welcomed the inclusion of their moniker in the credits as long as it's made clear in the movie the malevolent malfunction had nothing to do with IBM, and their credit is "not specifically listed as being technical advisor for the computer." Still, Kubrick was right to worry, as some moviegoers felt the film was a criticism of technology like IBM. If not, why have HAL sing "Daisy Bell," a tune that the IBM 704 computer famously played?
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