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2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick

Most films are made to be watched, but there is a select category that you have to experience. These are works where the ambitions of the filmmakers fundamentally reshaped the medium. There are only a handful of examples: Napoleon, Citizen Kane, The Red Shoes and Lawrence of Arabia may come to mind. But any such list would have to include 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, which turns 50 this year, is that rarest of things, a big-budget experimental film made in a popular genre by a major studio. Nothing about 2001 is conventional: there is no dialogue for the first 25 minutes, or the last 25; it doesn’t have a hero; there are ten minutes of purely abstract imagery; and, by co-writer Arthur C. Clarke’s admission, it asks far more questions than it answers. The initial reviews were terrible and the studio threatened to pull the film from theatres. But fellow filmmakers, cinema owners and audiences rallied around it and its status slowly grew from cult movie to bona fide classic.

This is the film that proved that science fiction was a serious genre and showed Hollywood that you could break every rule and still make money. 2001 is also alive to the potentials of cinema in a way that so few films are. Five decades later, despite a host of imitations, Kubrick’s uncompromising vision has not come close to being equalled. Nothing compares to seeing this on a big screen. Come and have your mind blown

Ciné Sunday Sun 17 June, 11:00

Don’t miss new documentary Filmworker which charts Kubrick’s story as told by his right-hand-man Leon Vitali.