10 April 2018

50th Anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Intro Copy

50 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.

Don’t have eLibrary? Request a free trial.

  "2001: A Space Odyssey" Trivia Academy-Award winning actor Martin Balsam was slated to be the voice of HAL 9000, but was replaced by Canadian actor Douglas Rain. For the moonscape scenes, Kubrick had 90 tons of sand dyed grey. Kubrick approached the band Pink Floyd to perform some of the music for the film, but they turned him down due to prior engagements. HAL stands for: Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. HAL 9000 never once says, “Good Morning, Dave,” despite this line being one of his most recognized and repeated quotations in popular culture. In 1991, the movie was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the U.S. Library of Congress and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.