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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


  • Stanley Kubrick, Writer/Director

  • Arthur C. Clarke, Co-Writer

  • Alex North, Composer

  • Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman

  • Gary Lockwood as Dr. Frank Poole

  • William Sylvester as Dr. Heywood Floyd

  • Daniel Richter as Moonwatcher

  • Leonard Rossiter as Dr. Andrei Smyslov

  • Margaret Tyzack as Elena

  • Robert Beatty as Dr. Ralph Halvorsen

  • Sean Sullivan as Dr. Roy Michaels

  • Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL 9000


  • 2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 3, 1968. (55th anniversary this year)

  • Upon release, 2001 polarised critical opinion, receiving both praise and derision, with many New York-based critics being especially harsh. Kubrick called them "dogmatically atheistic and materialistic and earthbound". Some critics viewed the original 161-minute cut shown at premieres in Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles. Keir Dullea says that during the New York premiere, 250 people walked out; in L.A., Rock Hudson not only left early but "was heard to mutter, 'What is this bullshit?'" "Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?" "But a few months into the release, they realised a lot of people were watching it while smoking funny cigarettes. Someone in San Francisco even ran right through the screen screaming: 'It's God!' So they came up with a new poster that said: '2001 – the ultimate trip!''

  • The movie was not a financial success at first. MGM was planning to pull it back from theaters, but several theater owners persuaded them to keep showing the film. Many owners noticed increasing numbers of young adults attending the film. They were especially enthusiastic about watching the "Star Gate" sequence under the influence of psychedelic drugs. This helped the film to become a financial success.

  • 2001 would go on to be nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Director (Kubrick), Original Screenplay (Kubrick and Clarke), Art Direction, and it won for Visual Effects (Kubrick).

  • 2001 was ranked 15th on the American Film Institute's 2007 100 Years ... 100 Movies (22 in 1998), was no. 40 on its 100 Years, 100 Thrills, was included on its 100 Years, 100 Quotes (no. 78 "Open the pod bay doors, HAL."), and HAL 9000 was the no. 13 villain in 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains. The film was also no. 47 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Cheers and the no.1 science fiction film on AFI's 10 Top 10.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely regarded as among the greatest and most influential films ever made. It is considered one of the major artistic works of the 20th century, with many critics and filmmakers considering it Kubrick's masterpiece. In the 1980s, critic David Denby compared Kubrick to the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, calling him "a force of supernatural intelligence, appearing at great intervals amid high-pitched shrieks, who gives the world a violent kick up the next rung of the evolutionary ladder". By the start of the 21st century, 2001: A Space Odyssey had become recognised as among the best films ever made by such sources as the British Film Institute (BFI). The Village Voice ranked the film at number 11 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list in 1999, based on a poll of critics. In January 2002, the film was included on the list of the "Top 100 Essential Films of All Time" by the National Society of Film Critics.

  • Sight & Sound magazine ranked the film 12th in its greatest films of all-time list in 1982, tenth in 1992 critics' poll of greatest films, sixth in the top ten films of all time in its 2002, 2012 and 2022 critics' polls editions; it also tied for second and first place in the magazine's 2012 and 2022 directors' poll.

  • The film was voted no. 43 on the list of "100 Greatest Films" by the prominent French magazine Cahiers du cinéma in 2008. In 2010, The Guardian named it "the best sci-fi and fantasy film of all time". The film ranked 4th in BBC's 2015 list of the 100 greatest American films. In 2010, it was named the greatest film of all time by The Moving Arts Film Journal.

  • In 1991, it was selected for preservation by the United States Library of Congress in the National Film Registry.

  • The influence of 2001 on subsequent filmmakers is considerable. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and others—including many special effects technicians—discuss the impact the film has had on them in a featurette titled Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001, included in the 2007 DVD release of the film. Spielberg calls it his film generation's "big bang", while Lucas says it was "hugely inspirational", calling Kubrick "the filmmaker's filmmaker". Director Martin Scorsese has listed it as one of his favourite films of all time. Sydney Pollack calls it "groundbreaking", and William Friedkin says 2001 is "the grandfather of all such films". At the 2007 Venice film festival, director Ridley Scott said he believed 2001 was the unbeatable film that in a sense killed the science fiction genre. Similarly, film critic Michel Ciment in his essay "Odyssey of Stanley Kubrick" wrote, "Kubrick has conceived a film which in one stroke has made the whole science fiction cinema obsolete."

  • Others credit 2001 with opening up a market for films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, Blade Runner, Contact, and Interstellar, proving that big-budget "serious" science-fiction films can be commercially successful, and establishing the "sci-fi blockbuster" as a Hollywood staple. Science magazine Discover's blogger Stephen Cass, discussing the film's considerable impact on subsequent science fiction, writes that "the balletic spacecraft scenes set to sweeping classical music, the tarantula-soft tones of HAL 9000, and the ultimate alien artifact, the monolith, have all become enduring cultural icons in their own right".

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey currently holds a 92% among critics on RT, an 84 Metacritic score, and a 4.3/5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Man's progression and our place in the universe.

Plot Summary: "2001: A Space Odyssey" is a visionary science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on a story co-written by Arthur C. Clarke. Released in 1968, the film is an epic exploration of human evolution, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial encounters.

The story begins during prehistoric times when a mysterious black monolith appears to a group of primitive hominids, triggering a significant shift in their cognitive abilities. Millennia later, in the year 2001, a similar monolith is discovered on the Moon's surface, buried beneath the lunar soil. Upon excavation, the monolith emits a powerful radio signal towards Jupiter.

In response to the signal, a manned mission is launched aboard the spacecraft Discovery One, led by Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole, along with three other astronauts in hibernation. The onboard computer, HAL 9000, an advanced artificial intelligence system, assists the crew throughout their mission. As the spacecraft nears Jupiter, tensions arise as HAL begins to show signs of malfunction and unpredictable behavior.

Did You Know:

  • According to Douglas Trumbull, the total footage shot was some 200 times the final length of the film.

  • Sir Arthur C. Clarke once said, "If you understand '2001' completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered." Clarke later expressed some concern that the film was too hard to follow, and explained things more fully in the novelization and subsequent sequels.

  • According to Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick wanted to get an insurance policy from Lloyds of London to protect himself against losses in the event that extraterrestrial intelligence was discovered before the movie was released. Lloyds refused. Carl Sagan commented, "In the mid-1960s, there was no search being performed for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the chances of accidentally stumbling on extraterrestrial intelligence in a few years' period was extremely small. Lloyds of London missed a good bet."

Best Performance: Stanley Kubrick (Director/Writer)

Best Secondary Performance: Douglas Rain (HAL 9000)/Keir Dullea (Dave)

Most Charismatic Award: Alex North (Composer)

Best Scene:

  • Dawn of Man

  • Monolith on the Moon

  • Mistrust of HAL

  • Pod Bay Doors

  • Through the Looking Glass

  • Final Moments

Favorite Scene: Pod Bay Doors

Most Indelible Moment: Final Moments/Dawn of Man

In Memorium:

  • Sinéad O'Connor, 56, Irish singer ("Nothing Compares 2 U") and songwriter ("Mandinka", "The Emperor's New Clothes"), Grammy winner (1991).

  • Randy Meisner, 77, American Hall of Fame musician (Eagles, Poco) and songwriter ("Take It to the Limit")

  • Inga Landgré, 95, Swedish actress (The Seventh Seal, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Crisis)

  • Inga Swenson, 90, American actress (Benson, The Miracle Worker, Advise and Consent), two-time Tony nominee for 110 in the Shade and Baker Street

  • Angus Cloud, 25, American actor (Euphoria, North Hollywood, The Line)

  • Paul Reubens, 70, American actor (Pee-wee's Playhouse, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Blow)

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

HAL: I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

HAL: [During his shutdown] I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.

Dave Bowman: Yes, I'd like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.

HAL: It's called "Daisy." [sings while slowing down] Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

HAL: [Regarding the supposed failure of the parabolic antenna on the ship, which HAL himself falsified] It can only be attributable to human error.

HAL: Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9

Impact/Significance: 8.25

Novelty: 10

Classic-ness: 8.25

Rewatchability: 5.25

Audience Score: 8.65 (84% Google, 89% RT)

Total: 49.4

Remaining Questions:

  • What do you think the ending means?

  • Would HAL really have been able to read lips?

  • Was HAL an AI?

  • What does the monolith represent?

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