Cinema can be many things. It can be funny, crass, scary, moving, unpleasant and much, much more. Occasionally, a film arrives which is something more deep and profound, not only instigating debate and spawning a cottage industry in speculation, but also blurring the lines between cinema and art. Space has fascinated humans for centuries (if not millennia), and whilst countless films have been made about the infinite possibilities of the unknown, there are two contenders for the greatest science fiction film ever made. One is (Tarkovsky’s) Solaris. The other is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
When a mysterious monolith is discovered on the Moon, an exploratory mission is launched to Jupiter. On board Discovery One, Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) are at the helm. The duo are accompanied by three other scientists who are in cryogenic hibernation and a HAL 9000 unit (Hal) who is the latest infallible computer technology which is in charge of every aspect of the ship. As they approach their destination, it becomes clear to Dave and Gary that something isn’t quite right with Hal, not to mention their misgiving about the mission itself.
Seeing 2001 on the big screen for the first time is a truly mind-blowing experience. It’s a momentous feat of cinema which still inspires directors today. You can’t watch Interstellar and Sunshine without noticing the echoes of Kubrick’s opus. He’s created much more than just a cinematic masterpiece. He’s sculptured a work of art which transcends philosophy, science and human nature. Beautifully shot, and with one of the most magnificent soundtracks ever, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a completely immersive visual and aural experience which challenges perceptions and stimulates in ways other films simply can’t.
2001: A Space Odyssey is out in cinemas now.