It is fifty years and a little bit since 2001: A Space Odyssey was released. 1968.
So many books and articles have been written about this film over the years, you wonder if there is anything left to say.
But I have a few thoughts.
When it came out, man was nowhere near landing on the Moon. There was no cinema cgi. Nowadays, every film has a wash of cgi on it, but not one frame of this film. It was all actual models, hand animation and other rather ingenious special effects. It was craftsmanship and patience and skill. And it shows on the screen, setting a visual standard that films nowadays cannot match.
I know people who hate science fiction and have never seen it. This is actually probably good. It is a film made for the cinema, a true film. I first saw it in my home town on a small screen, but when I moved to London, it was on in 70mm (or Cinerama) at the Casino theatre (now the Prince Edward). On a big screen, with a good print (film, not digital) it is an experience never to be forgotten. Those huge, glorious images, and that wonderful detail. And let’s not forget the choice of classical music.
It is a film unlike any other. Whatever you may think of the story, and it is just a story, 2001 is one of the greatest films ever. The story is told mostly through the images. There are occasional patches of expository speech, once on the Moon about the object they have discovered and again at the end, as HAL is being lobotomised.
Kubrick is dead. Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood are alive, and will talk about the film, though I think Mr Lockwood thinks it’s “just a film” in the end, and that there’s a lot of popmpous nonsense said about it. Douglas Rain, who voiced HAL, is still alive but does not seem to want to talk about it any more.
2001 represents a high point in cinema history. Yes, people can point out mistakes – Pan Am has gone, Howard Johnson’s too, and 2001 the year is long gone and manned space travel is more restricted now than it was in 1968, which is sad.