Classic film: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain (voice)
Runtime: 160 mins
Rating: * * * * *
Before 2001: A Space Odyssey, science-fiction films came with titles like ‘Journey to the Centre of ‘BLANK’’, and ‘BLANK!!!!’. There were some gems among them but, more often, they were bland and tended to look overly cheap. (It seemed as though every scenery department in film business was sponsored by Polystyrene Inc.).
Then, in the late sixties, director Stanley Kubrick had the idea of asking a real author (the late Arthur. C. Clarke) to write a new type of sci-fi film with him. He wanted something with a bit more substance and, more importantly, something that he could use to really take the viewers’ collective breaths away. Their film was released in 1968 and has set a benchmark for every sci-fi move made since.
2001 was born of a collaboration between the 20th century’s greatest sci-fi author, and one of its most outstanding film directors, neither of whom were limited by a lack of imagination or dedication to their art. Importantly, and unlike somewhat more bombastic directors, Kubrick never stumbled into the pretentious pitfall of explicitly telling the audience that his film was ‘huge’ or that it had a deep and resonating message (in the case of 2001, he would have been well within his rights).
His gift was simply to present the story in an inquisitive and beautiful way; allowing the viewer the freedom to choose their own interpretation of the movie. Simply put, without 2001, a great many modern sci-fi classics would never have been brought to the screen, or at least, their renderings of alternate universes would have been severely impoverished. The action-packed Star Wars, flawlessly logical Star Trek and eerily atmospheric Alien series, to name but a few, all owe their dues to what has to be the greatest science fiction movie ever made.