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Stanley Kubrick’s Rejected Monolith

2001: A Space Odyssey

The iconic Monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was originally not a mysterious black slab. The director wanted it to be transparent. To that end, Kubrick commissioned a local plastics firm, Stanley Plastics to cast the monolith out of a solid block of transparent acrylic. However, when the sparkling clear polymer block was delivered, the notoriously picky director was disappointed by the way it appeared during screen test. Kubrick eventually rejected the prop in favor of a dense, black structure made out of wood coated with a special graphite mix black paint in order to get an extremely smooth sheen on the outside surface.

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Monolith as it appears on 2001: A Space Odyssey

The rejected Monolith sat in the Boreham Wood film studios for several years, gathering dust, until famed Slovak-born, London-based sculptor Arthur Fleischmann acquired it. Fleischmann, who pioneered the use of acrylic in sculpture, had received a commission to make glittering crown sculpture for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1977. At two tons, it was the largest block of acrylic ever cast. For three months, Fleischmann patiently chiseled away at the block inside a polythene tent near St. Katherine's Docks, in London. In June the same year, the Queen herself unveiled the sculpture.

The recycled prop has been on public display ever since at St Katherine Docks.

Arthur Fleischmann

The Queen and Sir Frank Taylor, Chairman of Taylor Woodrow, at the unveiling of the Crystal Crown at St Katharine's Dock.

Arthur Fleischmann

Photo: Reddit

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