Masters,Tony


Masters,Tony
(1919–1990)
   Tony Masters was born in England and served as production designerin-chief on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. He was a major in the Royal Artillery during World War II and began working in the film industry in 1946, after he was demobilized. By the time STANLEY KUBRICK called upon him for 2001, he had risen to the top of his profession, while working as an art director on such films as David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) along the way.
   Masters was chiefly responsible for the interior sets that were constructed at Elstree Studios for the film. His widow, Heather, told PIERS BIZONY that, once her husband began work on 2001 in 1965, she rarely saw him before 10 o’clock at night. Even at home, Masters often conferred with Kubrick by telephone. One of Masters’s major achievements was in the last episode of the film.
   After astronaut David Bowman (KEIR DULLEA) abandons the Discovery, the spaceship that was supposed to take him to Jupiter but is now stranded in space, he journeys into deep space in a space capsule. Without warning, Bowman is plunged into a stunning space corridor. As his voyage comes to its conclusion, the view from his window begins to take on familiar shapes.
   What he sees through the space vehicle’s window is all the more extraordinary because in a sense it is so ordinary. Bowman has journeyed beyond the infinite only to wind up in what looks like a hotel suite decorated in the period of Louis XVI—exquisitely designed by Tony Masters. Bowman steps into the room and looks around. When he surveys himself in the bathroom mirror, he sees that his face has aged considerably as the result of his just-completed trip. Hearing the clatter of silverware behind him, he turns around to see himself, older still, seated at a small dining table. The wineglass slips from the old man’s feeble fingers and smashes to the floor with an echoing crash. The elderly version of Bowman turns around and notices an ancient specimen of himself dying on the bed. The echoing voices and sounds in the room imply that Bowman is passing his life away in some kind of observation chamber, tricked out in sumptuous elegance to make him feel comfortable and at home. He is under the scrutiny of the extraterrestrial intelligences who wish to study the first human being to reach their ambit of existence. After two years of stretching his imagination to create the extraordinary settings for 2001, Masters’s contract was up and he moved on to design Lewis Gilbert’s film adaptation of Harold Robbins’s lurid novel The Adventurers (1970). Kubrick told Masters that he still needed one more set design for 2001 before Masters departed: the landing site at the Clavius Base on the moon. Worn out by two long years of toil on the film, Masters was anxious to be on his way. So he abruptly picked up a scratch pad, sketched a landing pad on it, dropped the pad on Kubrick’s desk, and left.
   Masters’s dazzling sets for the film, epitomized by the futuristic/Victorian room in the last segment of the movie, bring into relief the imaginative work he did throughout production. John Baxter notes that Masters’s Pan American space ship, staffed by stewardesses in bubble helmets, and the lobby of the space station’s Hilton Hotel, with its cream decor and scarlet easy chairs, all helped to portray a credible future for the viewer. As was the case with the other designers on the film, including ERNIE ARCHER, DOUGLAS TRUMBULL, and WALLY VEEVERS, the production artists did the best work of their career on 2001.
   References
   ■ Baxter, John, Stanley Kubrick:A Biography (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1997);
   ■ Bizony, Piers, 2001: Filming the Future (London:Aurum Press, 2000).

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.


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