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Why ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is still fascinating at 50



Photo: Keith Hamshere/Getty Images.

IMDb ranks “2001:A Space Odyssey” as No. 21 best picture of all time, and second-highest science fiction (“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” is No. 20). The movie it lost to for Best Picture at the 1969.

Mike Moffitt writes: Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the original release of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a seminal film in motion picture history and one that has awed — and confused — thousands over the years.


Keir Dullea told Reddit his favorite scene was when he dismantles HAL’s brain: “It reminded me a bit of … ‘Of Mice and Men’ when Lenny is speaking with George regarding their plans to start a farm. This is a scene that comes at the end of the film after Lenny has inadvertently caused the death of a young woman. Now there’s a posse looking for him intending possibly to string him up. This discussion of their plans to start a farm has been heard throughout the film, and so with some love and compassion, with a hidden pistol behind his back George reviews their plans with Lenny and half-way through their discussion he shoots him behind his back to avoid him being killed by a posse of men. In some way, emotionally, that scene from ‘Of Mice and Men’ affected the way I played the scene with HAL.” Archive Photo: Getty Images.

“2001” is often credited with paving the way for science-fiction films that took a realistic approach to depicting the future. A few decent sci-fi dramas were made before Kubrick’s space exploration story — “Forbidden Planet” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man” come to mind — but most were strictly B-movie pulp with low production values. After “2001” came “Silent Running,” “Star Wars”, “Alien” and “Aliens”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T”, “The Fly” (1986) and other well-received films of the genre.

Kubrick hired NASA engineers and consultants to make the sets for “2001” as authentic as possible. He even asked astrophysicist/author Carl Sagan for help in depicting extraterrestrial life. (Sagan recommended suggesting the alien life form rather than showing it explicitly.)


What else would you wear over a 1960s beehive hairdo? “2001: A Space Odyssey” foresaw flat-screen video displays back in 1968. The helmet hat never caught on, however. Archive Photos/Getty Images

Initially the movie was neither a box office nor critical success. Reviews were mixed, with the New Yorker’s highly regarded Pauline Kael among Kubrick’s biggest detractors.

“It’s fun to think about Kubrick really doing every dumb thing he wanted to do, building enormous science fiction sets and equipment, never even bothering to figure out what he was going to do with them,” she wrote … (read more)

via SFGate

1 Comment on Why ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is still fascinating at 50

  1. I love how so many other movies pay tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey, with visuals and sound, be it the shape of a space station, or an intense musical melody, or a flyover an alien landscape. The legacy of the film is wonderfully inescapable.


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