2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is one of the must-watch sci-fi films of all times. The film was made almost half-a-century ago, and I watched it today on Netflix. It blew me away for its visual effects and its storyline, thanks to the famous sci-fi writer Arthur C.Clarke and brilliant direction by Stanley Kubrick.
The story is about an alien monolith rock that gets dropped on earth during the apes’ era, the rock reappearing near a lunar human colony. Then a manned mission is sent to Jupiter to explore alien life. The mission’s crew are aided by an intelligent and all-knowing computer HAL-9000. Did the mission succeed – find out by watching the film.
The film was different in many ways. Scenes progress painfully slow, the opening scene with apes hunting and fighting runs for over 20 minutes; similarly, the visuals coming up as the craft enters Jupiter’s orbit runs for 20 minutes. The film of 150 minutes has very limited dialogues. What compensates for this and still keeps you engaged is the curiosity of what happens and the breath-taking graphics. The Lunar colony that comes first, the spacecraft Discovery One interiors, the costumes – everything was superb. The scene where one of the crewmen jogs along the circular craft was awesome – unbelievable these were done fifty years ago.
The movie and the story are relevant today – not that we are closer to discovering aliens – but for thinking about the influence the growing field of Artificial Intelligence will be having on humanity.
Update: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the film, an article was published today (4 April 2018) in The Register titled “2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi, How movie magic was achieved long before the arrival of CGI?”