2001: A Space Odyssey

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2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction film that is directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film takes place in the near future (when it was made in 1968) and shows us what the future, in 2001, would be like, with spaceships, space stations, and even a moon base. The film also deals with thematic elements, like human evolution (as seen in the beginning of the film with the apes), technology (like the spaceships and space stations), artificial intelligence, and aliens. The film is also noted for being realistic in its science, pioneering the use of special and visual effects, sound in place of usual narrative techniques, and the minimal use of dialogue. It is also known for its extremely long cuts, especially during times when the action is being shown in space.

In 1991, it was selected by the United States Library of Congress, on the grounds that it was "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", to be preserved in The National Film Registry. 2001: A Space Odyssey has also been selected in numerous AFI lists ranging from AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies(placing #22), to AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes( for the line "Open the pod bay doors, HAL.") and AFI's 10 Top 10(placing #1 for Sci-Fi films.)


Upon release, 2001: A Space Odyssey recieved both praise and negative criticism. One problem is that some critics saw the original 160-minute cut while others saw the 19 minute shorter version that was shown in theaters. In The New Yorker, Penelope Gilliatt said it was "some kind of great film, and an unforgettable endeavor…The film is hypnotically entertaining, and it is funny without once being gaggy, but it is also rather harrowing." In Films and More Monthly, Seth Linefsky wrote that "it was an interesting film that really defined the time when it was created. In a way it defined the genre of science fiction as we know it, and also created the beginning of realistic space films to come." It is not all praise though, also said by Seth, "2001: A Space Odyssey, while defining the genre that it is in, was not a film that is easy to sit through. The film often drags, its as if your running your hand through sand. The music also does not fit with the film, and adds to the drag by having music play that does not make sense for a science fiction film. One would think that a sci-fi film would have action music, or something that feels like space, not a ballad or symphony song that would be more fitting in a dance film." Seth lastly said that, "I can see why the film though has become one of the top 100 films of all time, and even with its drag and ill fitted music, the film still defined the genre of science fiction." John Simon felt it was "a regrettable failure, although not a total one. This film is fascinating when it concentrates on apes or machines…and dreadful when it deals with the in-betweens: humans...2001, for all its lively visual and mechanical spectacle, is a kind of space-Spartacus and, more pretentious still, a shaggy God story."


2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that defined the genre of modern day science fiction films, and helped to create one of the greatest of genres of film. Just for a little background information, science fiction is exactly what it is called, a film that has to do with science in someway that is fiction in its truest sense. Science fiction mostly is related to spaceships, space, aliens, etc. They often deal with over the top problems that are solved using knowledge that not only we do not have, but also knowledge that in real life we deem impossible. How did 2001: A Space Odyssey defind a genre though? Simple. It was one of the first science fiction films to not only come out, but to also be a huge hit. Sure there were early science fiction films like A Trip to the Moon, but they were not only not big hits, but they also were not American. Also most early science fiction films were hybrid films where it was mainly horror with science fiction mixed in. Also, while there were later science fiction films that dealt with aliens and such, they were often predictable, and also always took place on earth with the aliens coming to us. 2001: A Space Odyssey did something different in that it showed us what space was really like. With only 40 minutes of total dialogue in the film, it showed the vastness and emptyness of space. Also its use of special effects were outstanding for its time. Special effects before were just props on string, but 2001: A Space Odyssey did it better to the point that it looked real. It also kept with realistic science instead of over the top science. Overall, it is the films realisticness, special effects, and lack of dialogue that allows it to continue to be one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.

Space Station



Clarke, Arthur C.. 2001: A Space Odyssey. NY: Roc, 1968. Print. This is the book that was made into the film itself.

Geduld, Carolyn. Filmguide To 2001: A Space Odyssey.. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973. Print. This is a book that offers a film guide, like the websites and journals listed below, to the film and goes into great detail about each and every scene.

Schwam, Stephanie. The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Modern Library Movies). New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print. This book is great in that it explains how the film was made, including the special effects that helped to define the genre.


"2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062622/>. This website is great in that it not only allows you to see who worked on the film, but also where it was taped, and other information like trivia that you would not of known of otherwise, and goofs that are throughout the film.

Dirks, Tim. "2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)." Greatest Films - The Best Movies in Cinematic History. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.filmsite.org/twot.html>. This website, created and edited by Tim Dirks, not only gives a great synopsis and overview to the film, but also gives background information on other related films of the time.

"Kubrick 2001: The space odyssey explained." Kubrick 2001: The space odyssey explained. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <http://www.kubrick2001.com/>. This website has a video on it that explains the film and what each of the four parts of the film mean.


Clarke, Arthur C. "FROM 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY." ETC: A Review of General Semantics 65.2 (2008): 114-115. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. This article gives an overview of the film from the side of Arthur Clarke, the one who wrote the book on which the movie is based.

Cohen, Aaron "2001: A Space Odyssey. (Cover story)." Futurist 42.5 (2008): 37. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. This article talks about HAL the artifcial intelligence that controls the space ships, and how HAL works to be able to control the ships. It basically gives a backstory to the film.

Davidson, Rjurick "science, TECHNOLOGY and humanity visions of the future in 2001: a space odyssey." Screen Education 54 (2009): 111-117. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. This journal gives a great overview of the film by breaking it down into four parts that follow the course of human evolution.


2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey Poster

Directed by:
Stanley Kubrick

Produced by:
Stanley Kubrick

Written by:
Stanley Kubrick
Arthur C. Clarke

Keir Dullea
Gary Lockwood
William Sylvester
Daniel Richter
Leonard Rossiter
Douglas Rain

Geoffrey Unsworth

Editing by:
Ray Lovejoy

Release date(s):
April 6, 1968