Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
2001 is a total cinematic experience. Kubrick is a big director and only he could have tackled the source material, in the manner it deserved at least. Arthur C. Clarke and Kubrick were thinking of bigger ideas, ideas which both alienated themselves from humanity and elevated themselves to the status of genius.
Thanks to Kubrick, whenever we look at scenes of sprawling stars, we think of (or at least I think of) Johann Strauss’ waltz “Blue Danube”. We have an idea of classical music as perfectly constructed melody. Strauss’ waltz flows as it should and resolves itself in a crescendo of perfect harmony as we watch the docking of Bowman’s space shuttle in 2001. It’s slow, interesting, beautiful, and immensely watchable – tenets sustained throughout the film.
2001 is about everything. Humanity and where it comes from, technology and what it does to us, the future and what’s in store for us. In the robotic HAL 9000 we are given the most human character of the film: he tries to make sense of his existence and give order to it, he harms his friends while trying to do what is right, and suffers a total breakdown while singing and recounting childhood memories. The interplay between technology and humanity is of central importance to Kubrick. We can only dream of how he would have made A.I. Artificial Intelligence work on the big screen. Spielberg gave it a good go, but it’s not on the level of Kubrick’s visuals.
There is no doubt that this film has inspired artistic and scientific disciplines alike by giving a visualization to what many could only dream of. Above all other accomplishments, this film achieves transcendence – a connection on a human level to something so alien. As Carl Sagan said: “We are made of starstuff.”