January 5, 2013

Don't make IBM mad

(To buy 2001: A Space Odyssey, click here.)

Stanley Kubrick was never afraid to tackle controversial material that really pushed the edge of cinema. Look at "A Clockwork Orange" or "Full Metal Jacket" and you know what I'm talking about. Sure it's all done brilliantly, but you could easily be offended watching it.

But you know what worried Kubrick the most while making "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Making IBM angry for having a killer computer be the main protagonist. IBM had helped out considerably with the film in terms of technical support, and could have taken this as a danger to their brand or something like that. But this isn't sue-happy 2013, this is the 1960s and IBM was totally cool with it. 

In August 1966, Kubrick wrote to Roger Caras, who was, at the time, vice president of Kubrick's production company, asking if IBM was clear on HAL's murderous sentiments. You can read Caras' full reply over at Letters of Note, but the gist was that IBM was fine as long as it was credited as just one among many consultants and that IBM was not "associated with equipment failure."

There is other slight jabs in the movie that could be seen as attribution to IBM, such as HAL being just one letter off from the acronym HAL, and several IBM logos popping up. Most people, however, would never make the connection that if you bought an IBM it would try to kill you.

Now an iPhone? That's a different story.

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