2001: A Space Odyssey




Stanley Kubrick




Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester


Colour 160 mins

I remember watching "2001" when it first came out. My parents got me a bag of cashew nuts and the taste blew me away, I wolfed them down and was deservedly sick afterwards. The trip into infinity at the end of "2001" also blew me away, and I became a science-fiction writer for a few days.

Watching the film again on Blu-Ray blows me away again. After becoming used to a diet of inferior fast food movies one can forget what a class movie is like. But watching "2001" again is like waking up and being crystal clear for once. The film is slowly and masterfully paced, not spoon-feeding the audience. Despite being made before digital computer graphics the effects hold up well, supporting not obscuring the story. The music creates the mood, at times epic with "Thus Spake Zarathustra", at times waltzing with the "Blue Danube", at times alien with Ligeti (who only discovered "2001" used his music when he saw the film!)

The film starts with the dawn of mankind. A mysterious black monolith appears, proto-humans discover they can use tools to change their world, mysterious black monolith disappears. A dazzling flash forward to the discovery of another mysterious black monolith buried on the Moon. This sends a powerful pulse of energy to Jupiter and then is quiet. A mission is launched to Jupiter of a combined human and computer crew, the computer being the infallible HAL 9000. What they will discover there will take mankind to the next stage of evolution. The story is an expansion of Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", there are differences between Clarke's version of "2001" and what Kubrick filmed.

The high-point for me is now the interaction between HAL and the crew of the "Discovery". HAL is no ordinary villain, rather a system tied in knots with fatal results. The film is a kind of mythological fable, and the final showdown between Dave Bowman and Hal is burnt into my memory. A rich film which leaves the viewer with food for thought.