The Long-Lost Illustrated Production Stills from the Set of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 1

Remem­ber court­room sketch artists? The mere fact that they did what they did cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion as a kid, rep­re­sent­ing as it seemed one of the few remain­ing ves­tiges of an old­er, more askew Amer­i­ca, one bound by few­er yet stricter rules and all the more fas­ci­nat­ing a com­po­nent of his­to­ry for it. These draw­ings of the shoot of Stan­ley Kubrick­’s 2001: A Space Odyssey remind me of court­room sketch­es, albeit on some styl­is­tic lev­els more than oth­ers. And inter­est­ing­ly, just as court reporters once had to use sketch artists because of the sup­posed dis­tur­bance cam­eras would cause in the court­room, these draw­ings result from the pur­suit of some­thing less trou­ble­some to a set than a reg­u­lar still pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

2001 2

From 2001 onwards, Kubrick cre­at­ed illus­trat­ed pro­duc­tion stills of what hap­pened on his set, rather than hav­ing a pho­tog­ra­ph­er take noisy and dis­tract­ing pho­tographs. The illus­tra­tions, doc­u­ment­ing for the media what hap­pened in front of the cam­era as well as behind it, would then be sent out in press kits to pub­li­ca­tions and oth­er media out­lets that could pro­mote the film.

2001 3

Enter, in 1966, Eng­lish mag­a­zine illus­tra­tor Bri­an Sanders (now per­haps best known for the pas­tich­es of that decade he’s done for Mad Men), hired to turn up to the 2001 shoot and qui­et­ly draw what he saw. None of these images, how­ev­er — or the rest of those fea­tured at Kubrick­o­nia — appeared any­where until the actu­al year 2001, when The Inde­pen­dent’s mag­a­zine used them in an arti­cle. Cinephiles now and again wish for the return of illus­trat­ed movie posters, and some­times we do occa­sion­al­ly see a new one, but look­ing at what Sanders came up with for 2001, I can’t help but pon­der the still-unre­al­ized poten­tial of the illus­trat­ed pro­duc­tion still. You can see more illus­tra­tions — once lost and now found — here.

kubrick illustrated still

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Howard Johnson’s Presents a Children’s Menu Fea­tur­ing Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Gets a Brand New Trail­er to Cel­e­brate Its Dig­i­tal Re-Release

1966 Film Explores the Mak­ing of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (and Our High-Tech Future)

James Cameron Revis­its the Mak­ing of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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