Douglas Trumbull questions Christopher Nolan’s involvement in 2001’s restoration

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Visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull bemoans his lack of involvement in the re-released 2001: A Space Odyssey, despite working on the original film.

Douglas Trumbull is nothing less than a legend in the field of VFX, having pioneered effects for some of the most iconic films over five decades. That includes the jaw-dropping effects in Blade Runner and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. However, he is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work on 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which would pioneer incredible space effects almost a decade before George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic would be credited with revolutionising the industry with 1977’s Star Wars.

Yet when Warner Bros elected to restore 2001, it didn’t turn to the man responsible for so much of its look, instead preferring to ask director Christopher Nolan to oversee the project, a decision that Trumbull has contested.

He told Slashfilm that “…I was kind of flabbergasted because I had a previous intimate relationship with Warner Bros. about 2001 because I was developing [a] documentary [about that film] for them. At the time, I said ‘I know where the original negative is of everything. I’m a guy who was on the set, working with Kubrick, and I’d love to contribute to any restoration you want to do.’ Instead, they called Christopher Nolan and they did not call me. Go figure. It’s all corporate. All about money”.

It’s a fair point indeed and does make you wonder why Trumbull, responsible for so much of what is seen onscreen in the 1968 classic, wasn’t involved.

Trumbull went on to explain the importance of having somebody who was present during the original filming as part of the process, saying “there was work done on Blade Runner that made the movie better, and I helped them, because I had 65mm negatives of all the effects shots stored away that I gave to the studio … Generally, these restorations are not done by the principles who made the movie, particularly the cinematographers. If you’re going to restore The Godfather, you’ll include Coppola.”

Trumbull is entitled to question why he wasn’t involved, and it’s understandable he’s not best pleased. Still, as he said at the time, at least Nolan resisted any overtures from the studio to go digital and respected the process, even if Trumbull was unhappy about not being consulted.


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