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Beautiful new book examines Harry Lange’s designs for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

A new book by Sir Christopher Frayling presents the largely unpublished archive of art director Harry Lange’s designs, concepts, roughs and photographs for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The result is a veritable feast for design and film geeks.

Beautifully presented, Frayling’s book offers an exhaustive examination of the making of 2001. He gives a fascinating insight into Kubrick’s process: the director has long been known for his obsessive attention to detail and fans will enjoy extracts from his letters (at times belligerent) as well as in-depth information about the ideas, themes and inspirations behind the classic movie. Included too is the last extensive interview with Frederick Ordway, the NASA scientist who was a scientific consultant on 2001 and worked hand-in-hand with Lange.

What Kubrick most desired for 2001 was someone who understood science and engineering and could offer up a realistic (as well as spellbinding) vision of the future. He found this in Lange, who previously led the ‘future projects’ department at NASA and was introduced to Kubrick by Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote the screenplay for 2001 (it is based on his short story The Sentinel). Lange was instrumental in defining the look of the movie, and the experience was life-changing for him too: afterwards he left NASA and continued to work as a designer for films including Moonraker, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.

In The 2001 File, Frayling places Lange’s work within the context of the time and also looks at how his science-fiction designs have influenced real designs of the present – even five decades on, the designs for 2001 appear remarkably modern. His text is accompanied by hundreds of images from Lange’s archive for 2001, which will provide a total joy to fans of the film, and design in general. Included are rejected designs, concepts, as well as near finished works. There are also photographs from the set of the film. Shown here is a selection of images from the book to whet your appetite.

Creative Review

08 Jan, 2016

Eliza Williams