2001: A Space Odyssey – dir Stanley Kubrick – 1968
Sadly, you can no longer fulfill your childhood dream (assuming that your childhood dream matched mine) of meeting science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke. Fortunately, the author/visionary/inventor lives on in his dozens of books, essays, and the movie he co-conceived with master director Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Whether it’s the classical strains of Johann Strauss played over a starfield, a here’s-a-bone-there’s-a-space-station jump cut, a terrifying glimpse of artificial intelligence, or the even more terrifying postulations regarding our origins and ultimate destination, 2001 breaks ground. That’s the case whether or not you watch if with Pink Floyd accompaniment, you understand.
2001 is watchable and re-watchable because it’s about archetypes. It’s about the quest for the origin. The quest for the destination. The ultimate consequence of curiosity and of achievement. When the fundamental human question, “What’s next?” is asked in this film, the answer comes via a voiceless teacher, a single monolith of unknown origin, although you don’t need to dig too deeply to realize that the monolith and its apparent effects come from within.
Whether with a bleached bone or with the HAL 9000 supercomputer, these fruits of Man’s ingenuity become the vehicles by which He shifts into a new state with regards to Himself and His environment. The old archetypes no longer apply. When Man rises to dominance over a small band of ape-men or takes the next evolutionary step forward, the one constant is his own ability to overcome adversity through invention and creativity. His survival is ensured, but also His progression as a species into what He was always meant to be.