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Playing chess with Stanley Kubrick


Typical Kubrick
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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We had a very nice conversation. I think, in that conversation, I suggested the subtitle of the film, A Space Odyssey. I believe that was my suggestion. Anyway, we got… we talked for a… we talked when Arthur was there, and we talked for about an hour and so on. And then I look at my watch, I said, 'Gee, I've got to go'. He said, 'Well, why?' And I thought that was typical Kubrick. I mean, why should you have to go when we're having this conversation? I mean, the fact that you have a life, I mean, that's of no relevance to anything. You know, why would you want to go? I mean, what is… you have to offer an explanation as to why it is you want to go. I mean, why do you have this life? I mean, you know, we're having this conversation. There's no reason to go. So I was very truthful. I said, 'Well, I'm playing chess for money in Washington Square Park and I have a date with this guy I'm playing chess with and I don't want to stand him up and I want to go'. So he said, 'Well, who are you playing?' I said, 'Well, I'm playing Duvall,' thinking that would mean nothing. Kubrick said, 'Duvall is a patzer.' Now there's nothing that's more insulting than to be… I mean, if Duvall's a patzer and I was just about breaking even, what am I? I must be the king of patzers. So I said, 'Well, I mean, have you played Duvall?' He said, 'Yes, when there was nobody any good around, I used to play Duvall,' he told me. So I said, 'Well, you know, I'm... sort of breaking even with Duvall'. I said, 'Well, we should play'. And he said, 'Yes, we should play some time'.

Born in 1929, Jeremy Bernstein is an American physicist, educator and writer known for the clarity of his writing for the lay reader on the major issues of modern physics. After graduating from Harvard University, Bernstein worked at Harvard and at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. In 1962 he became an Associate Professor of Physics at New York University, and later a Professor of Physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a position he continues to hold. He was also on the staff of The New Yorker magazine.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: 2001: Space Odyssey, Washington Square Park, Stanley Kubrick, Fred Duval

Duration: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 07 October 2011