2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½

“If you can describe it, I can film it,” Stanley Kubrick reportedly told co-writer Arthur C. Clarke. Like a challenge lifted straight out of the Bible: if you dream it, they will come.

It isn't surprising that 2001 feels like an attempt to film the impossible, the infinite. In fact, the concern with 2001 isn't that it's too dense, but rather that it's too sparse. The film moves with a deliberately glacial cadence as if to drift along the infinite space it depicts.

But the result is nothing less than hypnotizing, an acid trip through space and time whose mysteries are as impregnable as the film’s enigmatic black monolith. It's no wonder that the film's earliest fans were born not from the academic elite but devotees of psychadelia from the hippie generation.

2001’s visuals are, just as they were during the film’s initial release in 1968, absolutely breathtaking. From the stunning reveal of the Earth rising from behind the dark side of the moon to David Bowman's (Keir Dullea) mind-altering trip beyond Jupiter, Kubrick’s futuristic vision of both the technological and the near-spiritual has been endlessly imitated but never duplicated.

In one ambitious swoop of genius, 2001 elevated science fiction from the realm of genre pulp fiction to high art. And like the film’s own ‘Star Child’ hovering above the Earth, Kubrick’s masterwork will continue to be the gold standard of existential science fiction.

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