2001 - 30 YEARS ON

What They Said 30 Years Ago | What They Are Saying Today | Trivia | Credits | Also


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"Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?"
- Actor Rock Hudson as overheard after the premiere of

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"2001 is a non-verbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only less than 40 minutes of dialogue. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalised pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconsciousness with an emotional and philosophic content. To convolute McLuhan, in 2001 the message is the medium. I intended the film to be an intensely subjective experience that reaches the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does; to ‘explain’ a Beethoven symphony would be to emasculate it by erecting an artificial barrier between conception and appreciation.

You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film – and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level – but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point.

I think that if 2001 succeeds at all, it is in reaching a wide spectrum of people who would not often give a thought to man’s destiny, his role in the cosmos and his relationship to higher forms of life. But even in the case of someone who is highly intelligent, certain ideas found in 2001 would, if presented as abstractions, fall rather lifelessly and be automatically assigned to pat intellectual categories; experienced in a moving visual and emotional context, however, they can resonate within the deepest fibres of one’s being."
- Director Stanley Kubrick in an interview with

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"I will say that the God concept is at the heart of 2001, but not any traditional, anthropomorphic image of God. I don’t believe in any of Earth’s monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God, once you accept the fact that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, that each star is a life-giving sun and that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe. Given a planet in a stable orbit, not too hot and not too cold, and given a few billion years of chance chemical reactions created by the interaction of a sun’s energy on the planet’s chemicals, it’s fairly certain that life in one form or another will eventually emerge.
It’s reasonable to assume that there must be, in fact, countless billions of such planets where biological life has arisen, and the odds of some proportion of such life developing intelligence are high. Now, the sun is by no means an old star, and its planets are mere children in cosmic age, so it seems likely that there are billions of planets in the universe not only where intelligent life is on a lower scale than man but other billions where it is approximately equal and others still where it is hundreds of thousands of millions of years in advance of us. When you think of the giant technological strides that man has made in a few millennia – less than a microsecond in the chronology of the universe – can you imagine the evolutionary development that much older life forms have taken?

They may have progressed from biological species, which are fragile shells for the mind at best, into immortal machine entities – and then, over innumerable aeons, they could emerge from the chrysalis of matter transformed into beings of pure energy and spirit. Their potentialities would be limitless and their intelligence ungraspable by humans."
- Director Stanley Kubrick in a the same interview with

"I’d rather not discuss the film."
- Director Stanley Kubrick in an interview related in
Chronicle of the Movies

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"If you understand 2001 completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered."
- Arthur C. Clarke on whose short story 2001 was based

- Stanley Kauffman in
The New Republic

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"… a monumentally unimaginative movie."
Pauline Kael

"A disaster."
- Andrew Sarris in
The Village Voice

"A bolt of brilliant , high-voltage cinema …"
- John Allen in
The Christian Science Monitor

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"Alone among science fiction movies, 2001 is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe."
- Roger Ebert in
Chicago Sun-Times

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"A month ago the TV gave us a chance to see again a classic we remembered with admiration, affection, and respect. I refer to Kubrick’s 2001. After this revisitation, I talked with a number of friends, and their opinion was unanimous: They were disappointed.
That film, which had stunned us only a few years ago with its extraordinary technical and figurative invention, its metaphysical breadth, now seemed to repeat wearily things we had seen a thousand times before."
- Umberto Eco in
Travels In Hyper-Reality

"One word of warning: do not watch it on TV. Television diminishes, shrivels, it. It must be seen in the cinema and on a big screen. (In 1984 Peter Hyams directed a sequel of sorts called 2010. Not good and known to Kubrick fans as ‘Ten Past Eight’.)"
- Barry Norman,
100 Best Films Of The Century

"This movie is best viewed in the letterboxed version, which preserves the wide-screen compositions."
Roger Ebert

"Although a great deal of the original wonder generated by the sheer visual effects of the Cinerama format is lost to today’s audiences, the questions and challenges that 2001 put to the cinematic genre remain. The intellectual audacity of the work earned it a Hugo award in 1969."
- John Clute in
Science Fiction – The Illustrated Encyclopaedia

"Audiences either love it or are confused, but everyone agrees it was important."
- The Blockbuster Guide to Videos

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Clarke's short story was first made into a novel, then into the screenplay that MGM financed for $6 million. The budget kept rising, and the studio execs feared a disaster. They didn't reckon with Kubrick's vision. Made at a cost of only $10.5 million, the film began to build slowly but eventually took in almost $15 million in North America, then about half that upon re-release in the slightly shorter version (141 minutes) in 1972.

Made at Boreham Richard Wood's British Studios in England, it featured many classical tunes as the background score: Aram Khatchaturian's "Gayane Ballet Suite" (played by the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky), Richard Strauss's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" (played by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Karl Boehm), Johann Strauss's "Blue Danube Waltz" (played by the Berlin Symphony, conducted by Herbert von Karajan), Gyorgy Ligeti's "Atmospheres" (played by the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, conducted by Ernst Baur), Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna" (played by the Stuttgart State Orchestra, conducted by Clytus Gottwald), and Ligeti's "Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs and Orchestra" (played by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, conducted by Francis Travis).

- CineBooks

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MAIN CAST: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Elena Robert Beatty, Sean Sullivan, Frank Miller, Alan Gifford, Penny Brahms, Edwina Carroll, Vivian Kubrick, John Ashley, Douglas Rain (voice of HAL 9000)

PRODUCER: Stanley Kubrick; DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick; SCREENWRITER: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke (based on the short story "The Sentinel" by Clarke;

EDITOR: Ray Lovejoy; CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoffrey Unsworth, John Alcott; PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Tony Masters, Harry Lange, Ernest Archer; ART DESIGN: John Hoesli; SPECIAL EFFECTS: Stanley Kubrick, Wally Veevers, Douglas Trumbull, Con Pederson, Tom Howard, Colin J. Cantwell, Bryan Loftus, Frederick Martin, Bruce Logan, David Osborne, John Jack Malick: MAKEUP: Stuart Freeborn; COSTUMES: Hardy Amies

OSCAR: Best special effects (Wally Veevers, Douglas Trumbull).

OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Best director; best screenplay; best art dir/set décor (Tony Masters, Harry Lange, Ernie Archer).

(Winner best film 1968: Oliver!)

139 minutes. Colour

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Discuss 2001 in the Sci-Fi Movie Page's Boardroom
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Extended discussion of 2001: A Space Odyssey (September 1997 Sci-Fi Movie Pick of the Month)

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