In 1968, Stanley Kubrick released his masterpiece of direction and story: “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968).
The film was directed, produced and written by Stanley Kubrick (co-written with Arthur C. Clarke) loosely based on Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”. 2001 is conidered to be the ‘grandest’ of any Kubrick film. With it’s unbelievable special visual effects, cinematography, beautiful musical score and story structure, it has been considered the greatest science fiction film ever made.
Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman
Gary Lockwood as Dr. Frank Poole
William Sylvester as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd
Douglas Rain as HAL-9000 (voice)
Daniel Ricther as lead ape (aka ‘Moon-Watcher’ in “The Sentinel”)
The storyline of “2001: A Space Odyssey” is generally spaced out (no pun intended) between four chapters.
1ST - THE DAWN OF MAN
The very first opening shot of the 2001 is set in a prehistoric world approx. 4 mya. In this first monologue (consisting of appox 30 min running time) we encounter on a group of primitive ancestral apes. We look and study their behaviour and their diet, mainly plants and srubs. Over the course of the chapter one of the apes is killed by a leopard. Two small groups of apes are fighting over a water spot in which one of the groups leaders (attempting to gain control of the area) is ‘Moon-Watcher’ who first fails of taken over the spot.
Moon-Watcher’s group takes shelter during the night to hid themselves from the hunting leopard. On one morning particular morning, the group awaken to the sight of a gigantic black monolith stuck into the earth of their sleeping hole. At first, the apes are both suprised and frightened of this myterious object. Some of the apes (inc. Moon-Watcher) get up enough courage to touch and stroke the monolith.
After their encounter with the monolith, Moon-Watcher’s behaviour begins to change. In one memorable scene he croutches over the bones of a dead animal and starts to bash them with the femur, using it as a tool. He then learnes that can kill other animals for food and maybe use it as a weapon against the other groups; which he does so. He kills one memeber of the group guarding the water hole and takes over the area. He then tosses the bone into the air which cuts into the next chapter of the film.
2nd - TMA-1
The second chapter of 2001 jump cuts from chapter 1 into a couple of million years into the year 2001. In the opening scene we see a PanAm space jet travelling over the Earth’s orbit approaching a rotating a space that circles the Earth. In the space jet is Dr. Heywood R. Floyd who is travelling to a US outpost on the moon with a quick stopover at the space station.
Space Station orbiting the Earth in which Floyd makes a stopover before his trip to the moon.
When Floyd lands at the space station he encounters Dr. Smyslov, a Russian scientist, sitting with his colleagues . After a bit of chat, Dr. Smyslov asks Floyd about the odd discovery that apparently has been found on the moon. Floyd tells Smyslov that he is not a libery to say anything.
Dr. Smyslov (left) with Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (middle) and his friend Elena (right).
After talking Floyd leaves the space station on his way to Clavius, an American base on the moon. On arrival, Floyd enters a meeting room in the base to disuss and apologise for any cover-up that led to the mysterious discovery on the moon. He then describes the object known as Tyco Magnetic Anomaly One (TMA-1) which had been buried approx. 4 million years ago. After the meeting, Floyd and his group ride on a MoonBus to the site of the object. Once they arrive, Floyd and his group are led down to the site and encounter a black monolith buried on the moon. Floyd slowly approaches the monolith and touches it. The group then attempt to have a photograph taken of the monolith but get a loud whistling noise coming from the object which causes them irritation due to its pitch.
Floyd and his group approach the black monolith in the foreground.
3rd - JUPITAR MISSION
In the final chapter of the film set 18 months later, we encounter on ‘Discovery One’ a space craft on its way to Jupitar. On board are astronauts Dr. Dave Bowman, Dr. Frank Poole and three others who are in hibernation to reserve oxygen levels. Also on board is the ship’s main computer Hal a nickname given to a which a HAL-9000 (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer), a AI computer capable of distinct memory, controls and rythmic conversation with human begins. During an interview with the BBC via satellite, Hal states that he is “fool-proof and incapable of error”.
The ‘Discovery One’ space ship.
During the course of the mission, Hal is spots a fault in the space crafts main antenna. Bowman and Poole responed to the fault and check the outside antenna via an EVA pod, a light space ship that is housed inside ‘Discovery One’. After checking the antenna, Bowman tells Hal that there is nothing wrong with it. Hal suggests to restart the antenna and let it fail completely. Bowman and Poole begin to worry about Hal’s control of the ship. Both hold a conversion inside an EVA pod where Hal cannot hear them. Poole suggests to Bowman to completely disconnect Hal, in which Bowman says: “I think you may be right”. Both Bowman and Poole are unaware that Hal is watching them and is reading their lips during the pod’s window.
Poole (left) talking with Bowman (right) inside the EVA pod. Hal’s red eyesight camera watches them in the background.
Hal lip reading Bowman.
Apologises but I’m not to go any further with 2001’s storyline. I really do not want to spoil he ending of the film for anyone who has not yet seen it. The last chaoter is entitled: JUPITAR AND BEYOND THE INFINITE which encounters Bowman’s events after what happens on ‘Discovery One’.
Principal photography began on December 29, 1965 at Shepperton Studios, England. The size of the studio was chosen to construct the large sets and models needed for the film. The special effects shots were moved to MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood. The scene in which Moon-Watcher smashes the animal bones was the only acting scene not filmed inside a studio.
The acting scenes finished shooting in September 1967. Between 1966-68, Kubrick spent most his time working on a the speical effects for the film. The film contains 205 special effect shots. Kubrick ordered the special effect shots to be contructed without the use of blue screen and to use an in-camera technique known as ‘held takes’.
The film was shot in Super Panavision 70 which used a 65mm negative. The film went over budget by $4.5 million and was sixteen months behind schedule.
Huge rotating set for the inside of ‘Discovery One’.
2001: A Space Odyssey had it World Premiere on April 2 1968 in Uptown Theatre, Washington D.C. The film recieved both postive and negative feedback from critics. The New Yorker said it was “some kind of great film and an unforgettable endeavour…” Roger Ebert gave the film four starts out of four in his original review and later added it his “Great Movies” list.
However the film was also panned by some. Stanley Kauffmann of “The New Republic called it ” a film that is so dull, it even dulls our interest in the technical ingenuity for the sake of which Kubrick has allowed it to become dull.”
Despite the reviews, 2001 has had a huge influence to cinema and future filmmakers. George Lucas for example saw 2001 as an inspiration to make Star Wars and Steven Spielberg saw it as “the generation’s big bang”. Ridley Scott said that film was the unbeatable film that in the sense killed the science fiction genre.
Best Visual Effects - Stanley Kubrick (won) [Kubrick’s first and only Oscar]
Best Director - Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
Best Original Screenplay - Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke (nominated)
Best Art Direction - Anthony Masters, Harry Lange, Ernest Archer (nominated)
Best Art Direction - Anthony Masters, Harry Lange, Ernest Archer (won)
Best Cinematography - Geoffrey Unsworth (won)
Best Road Show (won)
Best Sound Track - Winston Ryder (won)
Best Film - Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
UN Award - Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
Stanley Kubrick was also nominated for the Director’s Guild of America award for directorial achievement.
At the time, there was no such Oscar for Best Make-Up. Arthur C. Clarke had stated the film was ignored by the Academy for it’s ape make-up but in the same year, a special honorary Oscar was given to Planet of the Apes (1968). Clarke suggested that the reason was the Academy thought that apes in 2001 weren’t actors.
Dave Bowman prior to the final chapter of the film