Film Friday: “2001: A Space Odyssey”

By Josie Rerecich

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 sci-fi film directed by Stanley Kubrick. Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clark, this film tells a story of human evolution, artificial intelligence, space travel, and much more.

The film begins like a nature documentary. It shows primitive humans who are more ape than man struggling to survive in the wild, until a strange black monolith appears out of nowhere. The film skips a few million years into the then-distant future of the 21st century. Some military men discuss an unusual archaeological finding on the moon- another monolith. When a group of astronauts gather around to take a selfie with the recently dug up artifact, a strange high-pitched whine comes out of the monolith.

Then it is eighteen months after the monolith’s alarm system went off, and a crew of six is heading for Jupiter on a top-secret mission- three astronauts in suspended animation, two wide wake spaceship pilots, and one always-right A.I. super computer named HAL 9000. HAL is the only one who was briefed on the entirety and importance of the mission… but the viewers just know it has something to do with the moon monolith. The spaceship soon turns into the setting for a classic “robot goes crazy and kills all humans” scenario. When HAL makes a mistake with his diagnostic of one part of the ship, he automatically blames it on his human companions. HAL then proceeds to tamper with the life support, killing the three hibernating astronauts. At the same time, one of the pilots decides to take a pod outside. After HAL kills most of his crewmates… it’s hard to explain how the movie ends. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. And yet, somehow, it is beautiful.

Five Film Friday Fun Facts:

  1. The novel 2001: A Space Odyssey was written in conjunction with the film. Clark’s novel was released the same year as the film.
  2. The special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey was a huge inspiration for filmmakers like George Lucas. If this Kubrick film hadn’t been made, the Star Wars franchise may never have existed.
  3. Some conspiracy theorists believe that the moon landing was faked. This may be partially due to the revolutionary special effects, which made the movie look like it was actually shot in space. The Apollo 11 mission took place a year after 2001: A Space Odyssey first debuted. Those who believe the landing was faked think that Kubrick’s film was a “test run” of the televised moon landing.
  4. Some of those same theorists believe that Kubrick left proof that he faked the moon landing in his 1980 film The Shining. One said proof was the Apollo 11-themed sweater Danny wore in a scene.  
  5. For the 50th anniversary of the film, select theaters across the United States screened  2001: A Space Odyssey in the original 70mm format during the summer of 2018.

Five Film Friday Personal Observations:

  1. There is no narration, no explanation given throughout the movie as to what the heck is happening. Although I was able to figure most of the plot out on my own, the last scene is almost impossible to understand… unless you’ve read the book, like i did after my first time watching the film.
  2. Even before the creation of basic weaponry, the man-apes were divided into tribes. They weren’t evolved enough to stand upright, and yet they were at war… over a muddy watering hole.
  3. When HAL 9000 sends that one pilot into space, the astronaut looks like a baby lizard in that yellow spacesuit. It’s actually kinda cute… if you ignore the silence of his death.
  4. HAL getting his memory wiped was the saddest murder of the film. The three sleeping astronauts had next to no screen time, and the dead pilot was practically an automaton. But HAL sang the first song he was ever programmed to sing as he died.
  5. If you ever have the opportunity, see the movie 70mm. That’s twice as wide as the average movie screen, which gives the sensation that you’re actually in space. Oh, and bring tissues.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.