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50th Anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey
Intro Copy50 years ago this April, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in theaters across the U.S. and Europe. The film, directed by Kubrick and co-written by sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, opened to decidedly mixed reviews. While some critics raved, many others panned the film for being slowly paced and thinly written, but few can deny that over time, 2001 has become a true cinematic classic. Students in writing or literature classes should take note of Kubrick’s storytelling technique. The movie opens with a “dawn-of-man” sequence, where tribes of ape-like pre-humans become obsessed with the sudden appearance of a mysterious extraterrestrial monolith. The story then abruptly fast-forwards far into the future where we learn that scientists have discovered a similar obelisk buried on the Earth's moon. It is almost an hour into the film before we meet the movie’s main characters. In a 2-and-a-half-hour movie, Kubrick uses only 40 minutes of actual dialogue to tell his story, which covers over 4 million years of human evolution. What is remarkable about 2001 is what Kubrick doesn't say. He cut much of the dialogue that he and Clarke had written, opting to let the images speak for themselves. Clarke (who also wrote the novella) was not enthusiastic about the ending of Kubrick's film. In my opinion, Clarke was right. The climax of 2001 is far less satisfying than the ending of the novel, but, who am I to judge a masterpiece? With 2018 being the 50th anniversary of Kubrick's ground-breaking achievement, ELA teachers could use the film to show students how a few words can go a long way when telling a story. Let others know you feel about this classic film by tweeting us using #ProQuest.