2001: A Space Odyssey Wiki
2001: A Space Odyssey Wiki

Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is frequently cited as one of the greatest and most influential directors in cinematic history. Many of Kubrick's films broke new ground in cinematography, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).[1]

2001: A Space Odyssey[]

The scientific realism and innovative special effects of 2001 were without precedent in the history of cinema, and the film earned Kubrick his only personal Oscar, for Best Visual Effects. Steven Spielberg has referred to the film as his generation's "big bang", and it is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.


2001: A Space Odyssey Kubrick spent five years developing 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), having been highly impressed with science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End, about a superior race of alien beings who assist mankind in eliminating their old selves. After meeting Clarke in New York City in April 1964, Kubrick made the suggestion to work on his 1948 short story The Sentinel, about a tetrahedron which is found on the Moon which alerts aliens of mankind.[2][3] That year, Clarke began writing the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the screenplay was written by Kubrick and Clarke in collaboration. The film's theme, the birthing of one intelligence by another, is developed in two parallel intersecting stories on two very different time scales. One depicts transitions from man-apes to "Star Child", as man is reborn into a new existence, each step shepherded by an enigmatic alien intelligence seen only in its artifacts: a series of seemingly indestructible eons-old rectangular monoliths. In space, the enemy is a supercomputer known as HAL who runs the spaceship, a character which novelist Clancy Sigal described as being "far, far more human, more humorous and conceivably decent than anything else that may emerge from this far-seeing enterprise".[4][note 1]


Kubrick spent a great deal of time researching the film, paying particular attention to accuracy and detail in what the future might look like. He was granted permission by NASA to observe the spacecraft being used in the Ranger 9 mission for accuracy.[5] Filming commenced on December 29, 1965, with the excavation of the monolith on the moon,[6] and footage was shot in Namib Desert in early 1967, with the ape scenes completed later that year. The special effects team continued working diligently until the end of the year to complete the film, taking the cost to $10.5 million.[6] 2001: A Space Odyssey was conceived as a Cinerama spectacle and was photographed in Super Panavision 70, giving the viewer a "dazzling mix of imagination and science" through ground-breaking effects, which earned Kubrick his only personal Oscar, an Academy Award for Visual Effects.[6][note 2] Louise Sweeney of The Christian Science Monitor called the film the "ultimate trip" while praising one of the scenes where the viewer moves through space while witnessing a vibrant mix of lighting, color, and patterns.[7] Kubrick said of the concept of the film in an interview with Rolling Stone: "On the deepest psychological level, the film's plot symbolized the search for God, and finally postulates what is little less than a scientific definition of God. The film revolves around this metaphysical conception, and the realistic hardware and the documentary feelings about everything were necessary in order to undermine your built-in resistance to the poetical concept".[8]


Upon release in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey was not an immediate hit among critics, who faulted its lack of dialog, slow pacing, and seemingly impenetrable storyline.[9][10] The film appeared to defy genre convention, much unlike any science-fiction movie before it,[11] and clearly different from any of Kubrick's earlier films or stories. Kubrick was particularly outraged by a scathing review from Pauline Kael, who called it "the biggest amateur movie of them all", with Kubrick doing "really every dumb thing he ever wanted to do".[12] Despite mixed reviews from critics at that time, 2001: A Space Odyssey gradually gained popularity and earned $31 million worldwide by the end of 1972.[6][note 3] Today, it is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, and is a staple on All Time Top 10 lists.[13][14] Baxter describes the film as "one of the most admired and discussed creations in the history of cinema",[15] and Steven Spielberg has referred to it as "the big bang of his film making generation".[16] For biographer Vincent LoBrutto it "positioned Stanley Kubrick as a pure artist ranked among the masters of cinema".[17]


  1. Several commentators have speculated that HAL is a slur on IBM, with the letters alphabetically falling before it, and point out that Kubrick inspected the IBM 7090 during Dr Strangelove. Both Kubrick and Clarke denied this, and insist that HAL means "Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer" (Baxter, 1997, pp. 214–5).
  2. Biographer John Baxter quotes Ken Adam as saying that Kubrick was not responsible for most of the effects, and that Wally Veevers was the man behind about 85% of them in film. Baxter notes that none of the film's technical team resented Kubrick taking sole credit, as "it was Kubrick's vision which appeared on the screen" (Baxter 1997, pp. 224, 235).
  3. This made the film one of the five most successful MGM films at the time along with Gone With the Wind (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Doctor Zhivago (1965) (LoBrutto, 1999, p.316).




  1. Wikipedia, Stanley Kubrick
  2. Baxter 1997, p. 205.
  3. Duncan 2003, p. 105.
  4. Baxter 1997, p. 208.
  5. Duncan 2003, p. 113.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Duncan 2003, p. 117.
  7. Baxter 1997, p. 233.
  8. LoBrutto 1999, p. 313.
  9. Baxter 1997, p. 231.
  10. LoBrutto 1999, p. 314.
  11. Schneider 2012, p. 492.
  12. LoBrutto 1999, p. 312.
  13. British Film Institute. Online at: BFI Critic's Top Ten Poll.
  14. American Film Institute. Online: AFI's 10 Top 10 Template:Webarchive
  15. Baxter 1997, p. 220.
  16. Carr 2002, p. 1.
  17. LoBrutto 1999, p. 320.