Whether it be mysterious monoliths popping up all over the world or private space travel breaking the news, 2001: A Space Odyssey has been cropping up a lot lately. This latest revelation sees the unearthing of a previously unheard track.
The original score is surely one of the most iconic in movie history. The opening scene is riveted onto the scarred consciousness of anyone who has ever seen it. The sun broaches the horizon in a swell of celluloid brilliance as Richard Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ soars over the top. Those few minutes alone represented a groundbreaking new age in cinema.
Stanley Kubrick is no stranger to cutting songs. Wendy Carlos scored two of his movies – The Shining and A Clockwork Orange – and on both occasions the bulk was cut, however, evidently Kubrick was happy enough with her work to hire her a second time, his reasoning for cutting the majority of her scores being very straightforward: “Why use music which is less good when there is such a multitude of great orchestral music available from the past and from our own time?”.
It is a ruthless approach backed by irrefutable logic and he stuck to the same method when snubbing this previous unheard piece for the score. 2001: A Space Odyssey was scored by Alex North, the legendary American composer for Spartacus among a slew of other classics but Kubrick was unhappy with his work for the initial title sequence.
The famously cut throat director then turned to Mike Kaplan, then working as a young publicist, and said, “I hear you write music. Why don’t you write something?” Kaplan took up the offer opting to champion ‘MacArthur Park’ as inspiration and attempted to “emulate the success of the quirky hit.”
Whilst Kaplan’s work obviously never made it onto the big screen, the song now serves as a fascinating look at what could have been and very nearly was.
The song ‘2001: A Garden of Personal Mirrors’ performed by Kaplan and folk singer Naomi Gardner certainly ticks the weird box but never quite catapults itself to the ‘out of this world’ aesthetic that Kubrick was going for.