Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A friend and I came to the conclusion a couple years ago that although Airplane! is probably a better movie than Airplane II: The Sequel, we actually quote more jokes from Airplane II.
Maybe it's not such a surprise, then, that my most quoted line from 2001: A Space Odyssey is also from Airplane II.
One of the benefits of not yet being eligible for Australian employment is that when I make promises on this blog, I'm actually in the position to sort of keep them. Last week I told you that I was due for another viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The very next day I found a copy at the library, and yesterday, I watched that copy. I mightn't have done so if it had been a nice day, but it was cold and rainy. That seemed like perfect 2001 viewing weather.
I should get this right out of the way at the start: It blew me away. This was my third viewing of the movie, but apparently only at this age of my maturity have I been able to fully appreciate it. The deliberate pacing had finally become nothing but a joy to me, and all the pieces finally fit together. This was the first time I don't think that I secretly thought it was just a disconnected montage of pretentious images -- a brilliant disconnected montage of pretentious images, but a disconnected montage of pretentious images nonetheless.
The thing that surprised me the most, however, was that I realized that the line I most commonly use when doing my HAL 9000 impression was never actually spoken by HAL. It's the following:
"What are you doing, Dave? This is highly irregular."
To me, this was, is, and has always been HAL's quintessential line of dialogue. Except, he doesn't say it. The closest he comes is:
"Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?"
He never speaks about whether anything is regular, irregular or otherwise.
So who does talk about the relative regularity of Dave's actions?
Why it's ROK, the evil computer that takes over the shuttle in Airplane II, of course.
Here he is:
If I'd stopped to think about it, I might have realized the line of dialogue seemed so familiar not from the two times I had seen 2001, one of which was when I was only seven years old, but from the 12-14 times I saw Airplane II, which we owned on VHS when I was young because we'd copied it off The Movie Channel.
Even if I had realized that, though, I probably would still have thought that the phrasing "This is highly irregular" was lifted straight from 2001. It had come to seem like such an iconic part of HAL's mental and emotional breakdown that I would never have thought that its originators were the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams.
Yet that appears to be the case. I kept waiting and waiting for HAL to say it, but he never did. Okay, I didn't have to wait too long. HAL's pretty darn quick, and he knows almost immediately that a) Dave Bowman means to disconnect him, and b) the only way he can stop Dave is to persuade him he's feeling better, or simply to get Dave to take pity on him. HAL doesn't waste any time trying to accuse Dave of incorrectly following protocol. It'd probably be a bit hypocritical anyway.
It's kind of like that quote from Casablanca, "Play it again, Sam." You know, the quote that is never actually spoken in the film. It's kind of like that quote from On the Waterfront, where Marlon Brando complains that "I coulda been somebody." When in reality he actually complains that "I coulda been somebody."
You'll have to forgive me if I persist in my misquoting of HAL. I've just been doing it for too long.
You could say that at this point, it's part of my circuitry.