This will be my final post about Chris Nolan‘s yellow and teal-tinted version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which began playing in theatres starting last month and which will apparently be the visual basis for the forthcoming 4K Bluray that will “street” on 10.30. My last post, I mean, before the 4K version pops and I can review it.
If you have any regard for how 2001 has generally looked over the decades (theatrical projection, cable, VHS, laser disc, DVD, Bluray, high-def streaming) but especially on WHE’s 2007 Bluray, which is far and away the best purchasable version as we speak, there’s no way to regard the Nolan-ized version as anything but an outlier.
I personally think it’s a tragedy that Warner Bros. has spent over seven figures in order to add a piss-yellow tint to Kubrick’s 1968 classic and to change the color of the walls in the trippy French Chateau sequence at the finale into a very loud green instead of blue. I believe that the ghost of Stanley Kubrick is fuming and pounding the refrigerator door as he watches this happen. Nolan’s unrestored 70mm version has the wrong color tints…period. On top of which the man is allegedly red-green color blind. On top of which he didn’t even see the original 70mm 2001 when it opened roadshow in April ’68, as was he was born in July 1970.
Nolan’s non-restoration is doubly tragic because the seven-figure cost has lessened the likelihood that a serious, true-color 4K restoration of 2001 will ever be funded. I’ve been told that the 2001 negative is 95% in good shape, and that a proper 4K UHD restoration would not be a horrifically difficult thing.
I was told last weekend, in fact, that Warner Bros. has possession of the back-up YCM masters of the entire film. Using the negative would more than suffice, but WB could use the YCMs to fully restore the film to its original (or even better) digital glory. Yes, it would be an expensive exercise to do 8K scans of each of the YCM black-and-white “masters” and then pay for the realignment of these 50-year old celluloid elements to generate at new digital master of the film. And yet this would probably be superior to any 70mm print ever made of 2001, and the yellow and teal scheme would be out the window and gone for good.