2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

140-141, 160 or 162 mins | Science fiction | 3 April 1968

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HISTORY

Opening credits precede a title card that reads: "The Dawn of Man."
       In an interview in the 16 Jan 1966 NYT, writer-director-producer Stanley Kubrick discussed the origins of the project, which was partly inspired by a study he had read in which the Rand Corporation put forth statistics about “the probability of life in outer space.” Kubrick became interested in science fiction, particularly the work of Arthur C. Clarke, a British writer and futurist whom Kubrick considered to be more “scientifically grounded” than other science fiction writers. As noted in a 6 Mar 1966 NYT article, Clarke was living in Sri Lanka at the time, and was difficult to reach. However, when Kubrick mentioned his interest in Clarke to Roger Caras, then an executive at Columbia Pictures, Caras revealed that he knew the author personally; they had met years earlier at a skin-diving convention, and Caras was able to supply Kubrick with the author’s address. The filmmaker wrote to Clarke, and the two soon met in New York City. As the basis for a potential collaboration, Clarke suggested his 1951 short story, “Sentinel of Eternity” (also known as “The Sentinel”), which centered around “the discovery on the moon of the first extraterrestrial artifact.” The two began working on 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1964, aiming to depict “man’s first awareness of extraterrestrial life and the first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.” Intending to write both a novel and a screenplay, they began the novel first. Kubrick and Clarke wrote chapters separately and exchanged them, and eventually shifted to the script. An article in the 20 Mar 1968 DV stated that ... More Less

Opening credits precede a title card that reads: "The Dawn of Man."
       In an interview in the 16 Jan 1966 NYT, writer-director-producer Stanley Kubrick discussed the origins of the project, which was partly inspired by a study he had read in which the Rand Corporation put forth statistics about “the probability of life in outer space.” Kubrick became interested in science fiction, particularly the work of Arthur C. Clarke, a British writer and futurist whom Kubrick considered to be more “scientifically grounded” than other science fiction writers. As noted in a 6 Mar 1966 NYT article, Clarke was living in Sri Lanka at the time, and was difficult to reach. However, when Kubrick mentioned his interest in Clarke to Roger Caras, then an executive at Columbia Pictures, Caras revealed that he knew the author personally; they had met years earlier at a skin-diving convention, and Caras was able to supply Kubrick with the author’s address. The filmmaker wrote to Clarke, and the two soon met in New York City. As the basis for a potential collaboration, Clarke suggested his 1951 short story, “Sentinel of Eternity” (also known as “The Sentinel”), which centered around “the discovery on the moon of the first extraterrestrial artifact.” The two began working on 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1964, aiming to depict “man’s first awareness of extraterrestrial life and the first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.” Intending to write both a novel and a screenplay, they began the novel first. Kubrick and Clarke wrote chapters separately and exchanged them, and eventually shifted to the script. An article in the 20 Mar 1968 DV stated that the co-writers spent 1965 polishing the screenplay and consulting with technical advisors from dozens of private corporations and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The plot was kept secret from the press, although “leaks” reported in a 7 Jun 1967 Var item indicated the story was about “a couple of colonists on the moon who dig up a strange object that might have been planted, a couple of eons earlier, by visitors from another galaxy.” The 10 Aug 1966 Var stated that, as a compromise, Kubrick would be listed first in screenwriting credits, while Clarke’s name would precede Kubrick’s on the novel. However, when the novel was released in 1968, under the same title as the film, it was ultimately credited as “a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, based on a screenplay by Stanely Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke.” Delacorte-Dell was said to have paid “an advance of $150,000 against royalties” for rights to publish the book, but the 3 Apr 1968 Var claimed that New American Library (NAL) would release the hardback version, backed by a $250,000 promotional campaign, while Signet was set to publish the paperback version.
       An item in the 9 Jun 1965 Var announced principal photography would begin that fall, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) was set to distribute. Around that time, the 6 Mar 1966 NYT stated that thirty-six technical designers commenced work on set design and props. Futuristic designs for computers, furniture, clothing, and other items were provided, free of charge, by corporations such as IBM, Du Pont, Eastman Kodak, Minneapolis-Honeywell, General Mills, and Bausch & Lomb. As noted in the 3 Apr 1968 DV review, brand names seen in the film included the “Orbiter Hilton Hotel, refreshments by Howard Johnson, picture phones courtesy of Bell, and Pan-Am space ships.” An advertisement in the 15 Nov 1966 Vogue showed the “2001” wristwatch designed by the Hamilton Watch Company specifically for the film, with “a movable bezel” to show lapses in time either in the past or future, and an alarm system controlled by a small red button. The centrifuge doubling as the interior of the Discovery spaceship cost an estimated $750,000, and was built, along with other sets, on soundstages at MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood, England, as noted in the 16 Feb 1966 Var. Illustrator Brian Sanders was brought in to draw sketches and snap photographs of the sets, according to a 26 Jan 1966 Var brief. Sanders would then use the sketches and snapshots to make black-and-white drawings for an “album of graphic art,” to be made available to the press.
       The picture was shot using the Cinerama wide-screen process. According to a 30 Jun 1965 LAT article, the company would likely be entitled to a cash advance from producers and a percentage of box-office receipts, as was the case with Cinerama’s recent deals with studios. The decision to film in Cinerama was based not only on aesthetics, but the fact that Cinerama-equipped venues offered “the best projection system and the nicest theaters,” in Kubrick’s opinion, as noted in the 16 Jan 1966 NYT.
       The initial production budget was cited as $5 million in a 1 Sep 1965 DV article. When the start of production was delayed several months, Kubrick instructed actor Gary Lockwood to prepare for the role of “Frank Poole” by taking typing lessons, the 22 Oct 1965 DV reported. The start of principal photography was moved to 1 Jan 1966, according to the 1 Dec 1965 Var; however, a 29 Dec 1965 Var production chart stated that filming began that day.
       Kubrick applied for insurance from Lloyds of London, according to a 2 Feb 1966 Var brief, to protect the film against “‘the discovery of extraterrestrial beings’ prior to 1967,” the originally scheduled release date. Lloyds had not yet decided whether or not to issue a policy.
       The shoot was scheduled to continue through late May 1966. However, Lockwood did not complete his scenes until mid-Jun 1966, according to the 14 Jun 1966 DV, and filming was still underway when the 8 Aug 1966 DV reported that Martin Balsam had been flown to London, England, to voice the role of “HAL 9000.” The 7 Feb 1967 LAT confirmed Balsam’s continued involvement, although he was later replaced by Douglas Rain. Actor Keir Dullea finally returned home from filming in mid-Aug 1966, as announced in the 17 Aug 1966 DV. Principal photography wound soon after.
       An article in the 12 Aug 1966 DV characterized 2001: A Space Odyssey as part of a recent spate of overseas productions with “runaway budgets” due to less studio oversight. Secrecy surrounded the production, and oftentimes Kubrick cleared the set so that only he and the cameramen were privy to what was being shot, according to a 20 Mar 1968 DV article. Nevertheless, Kubrick denied allegations that he had withheld footage from MGM, or had driven up the budget without their approval. The 10 Apr 1968 Var quoted Kubrick as saying, “[MGM President] Bob O’Brien came over to London periodically to look at footage, and each time he went back to New York and argued for no budgetary compromise in the result.”
       A brief in the 14 Nov 1966 DV listed Jonathan Mills, son of British actor Sir John Mills, as third assistant director.
       On 7 Jun 1967, Var reported that “process shots” were still being taken for the film’s “unprecedented battery of special effects.” The picture was said to contain over 200 special effects sequences, some of which were accomplished using a twenty-year-old front-projection process called “Scotch Light,” as noted in a 2 Oct 1968 DV article. The process, which was used in the “Dawn of Man” sequence according to the 26 Jun 1968 Var, involved “a screen made up of tiny mirrors that magnify a unit of light about 400 times… reproducing vivid background locations” and eliminating the “halo and edging effects” that result from rear projection and traveling mattes. The 16 Jan 1966 NYT stated that three special effects teams were employed, in addition to two rocket experts, and NASA scientists, who provided designs for rocket ships among other things. The 16 Feb 1966 Var named Frederick I. Ordway, III, and Harry H. K. Lange, former employees of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, as contributors to the film, and the 20 Mar 1968 DV stated that astronaut Deke Slayton also collaborated on the project.
       Barrie D. Richardson, formerly the manager of photography for CBS-TV’s press department, was hired as publicity coordinator, according to a 4 Jan 1968 DV brief. Richardson headed what was described by the 3 Apr 1968 DV as a “tremendous promotional campaign.” Early advertisements included drawings of spacecrafts. When it became apparent that the picture was drawing a younger crowd, MGM replaced the spacecraft art with an “eerie” close-up of Dullea staring out from behind his space helmet.
       An item in the 5 May 1967 DV indicated a fall 1967 release. One month later, the 7 Jun 1967 Var confirmed that a completed picture was expected to be delivered by Oct 1967. However, the film was set to be a “roadshow” release in a limited amount of theaters with reserved seating, and since MGM had already scheduled Far from the Madding Crowd (1967, see entry) and a revival of Gone with the Wind (1940, see entry) to be released as roadshow engagements at the same time, the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey was delayed.
       One hundred and three 70mm prints were initially ordered. The film premiered on 2 Apr 1968 in Washington, D.C. Additional premiere engagements followed on 3 Apr 1968 in New York City, and on 4 Apr 1968 in Los Angeles, CA. The Los Angeles event took place at the Warner Hollywood Cinerama Theatre, where, according to the 2 Apr 1968 DV, an “action marquee” was erected, designed specifically for the release by Spectrumotion. The marquee utilized “sequentially-programmed colored lights behind translucent panels to project images and copy describing the film.” Kubrick was expected at the Washington and New York events, but due to his aversion to airplane travel, he likely would not make it to the Los Angeles premiere, as noted in a 20 Mar 1968 DV item.
       After only a few days in release, over the weekend of 6-7 Apr 1968, Kubrick edited nineteen minutes out of the film, according to several contemporary sources, including the 10 Apr 1968 DV. Many critics had objected to the initial three-hour running time, but the 28 Apr 1968 LAT published a complaint from Jon F. Davison, a New York University graduate film student, who had seen both versions and felt the picture had been “butchered.” There were reportedly around thirty edits made, and Davison argued that some necessary plot threads had been excised. Davison noted the following scenes were missing from the second version: “The computer’s asking for permission to repeat the message from mission control telling of its own malfunction; parts of the scene in which Dullea removes the faulty communications unit; [and] the computer’s turning off the pod’s radio before killing Lockwood (thus puzzling the audience when Dullea asks HAL if he has been able to establish radio contact yet).” Two “meaningless” title cards were also added, according to Davison. The release was set to expand to thirty-six additional cities in the U.S. and Canada in Jun 1968, according to a 23 May 1968 DV item. To accommodate “an unprecedented demand for tickets,” the Loew’s Capitol Theatre in New York City added 5 p.m. showings on Saturdays and Sundays. The crowds were described as young and “quasi-hippie.”
       Critical reception was divided. The 4 Apr 1968 NYT review by Renata Adler deemed the film “somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring,” while the 3 Apr 1968 DV lauded its technical achievements. Likewise, the 5 Apr 1968 LAT review described its depiction of the future in space as “a landmark (or spacemark) in the art of film,” and the 1 Jun 1968 Vogue review called it “a film out of control” but “intensely exciting visually.” Filmmaker Mike Nichols praised the picture as “an unqualified masterpiece,” and other celebrities, including Henry Fonda, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward, were said to be fans. According to the 10 Apr 1968 Var, Kubrick felt confident the picture would continue to draw youth audiences who were visually oriented. He was quoted as saying, “I wanted to make a non-verbal statement, one that would affect people on the visceral, emotional and psychological levels,” but acknowledged that viewers over the age of forty were unaccustomed to “breaking out of the strait-jacket of words and literal concepts.” According to a survey quoted in the 18 Apr 1968 DV item, eighty percent of ticket buyers in the first two weeks at Warner Hollywood Cinerama Theatre were under thirty-five years old, and many were between the ages seven and fourteen. The film was expected to break a two-week house record at that theater, with a projected cumulative two-week gross of $90,257, after surpassing the previous first-week record holder, How the West Was Won. The film remained in release for well over a year. After seventy-nine weeks in theaters, a 22 Oct 1969 Var box-office chart listed a cumulative gross of $12,189,211 in twenty-to-twenty-four U.S. markets. The figure was based on a sampling of 650-800 theaters, roughly five percent “of the total U.S. theatre population.”
       Kubrick won the Special Visual Effects Academy Award, and Academy Award nominations went to Tony Masters, Harry Lange, and Ernie Archer for Art Direction; Kubrick for Directing; and Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke for Writing (Story and Screenplay—written directly for the screen). The film was awarded a science-fiction citation from the Southern California Motion Picture Council, as stated in a 26 Apr 1968 DV brief, and also received accolades overseas. The 28 Feb 1969 DV item reported that Kubrick was set to receive a science-fiction trophy modeled after the black monolith seen in the film at the second Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival; the 5 Jun 1969 DV announced the picture won the David di Donatello Golden Statue from the Italian motion picture industry for best film of the year; and the 24 Jul 1969 DV stated that 2001: A Space Odyssey received an award for “special cinematic techniques” at the Moscow Film Festival. The film was ranked 15th on AFI's 2007 100 Years...100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 22nd position it had held on AFI's 1997 list. It was also ranked 40th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list of America’s “most heart-pounding movies.” HAL 9000 was named the 13th villain on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list; the picture was listed 47th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers list of the most inspiring American films; and the following quote was ranked 78th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”
       An original score was recorded by Alex North, but thrown out by Kubrick just before release, as stated in a 30 Mar 1986 NYT article. MGM Records compiled a soundtrack album of music heard in the film, by composers Aram Khachaturian, György Ligeti, Johann Strauss, and Richard Strauss. An item in the 14 Jun 1968 DV stated that in San Francisco, CA, over 3,600 copies of the soundtrack sold in the first five days of release, mostly to customers under twenty-five. An advertisement in the 17 Jul 1968 Var touted the album as “the ultimate trip” and noted its popularity with underground radio stations. György Ligeti successfully sued MGM for distorting his music (in the film) by using “a four-minute chunk cut from the center of” his “Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Two Mixed Choirs and Orchestra” without permission, according to a 17 May 1970 NYT article.
       2001: A Space Odyssey was still in theaters when the U.S. Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon, and astronaut Neil Armstrong took his famed moonwalk. For the first time in the U.S., MGM allowed networks to air clips from the film during their coverage of the lunar landing. Clips had previously been televised outside the country, in Belgium, Mexico, Italy, and Great Britain, at the time of the Apollo 9 and Apollo 10 missions. Music from the soundtrack was also used in special Apollo 11 broadcasts by WNEW-AM and NBC radio, according to a 23 Jul 1969 Var item.
       In an interview in the 6 Mar 1966 NYT, Arthur C. Clarke correctly predicted that Kubrick would not make another film about space, because “he never repeats himself.” A sequel, based on Clarke’s 1982 follow-up novel 2010: Odyssey Two from Ballantine Books, was released in 1984 under the title 2010 (see entry). Peter Hyams directed the picture, and actors Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain reprised their roles. Clarke wrote a third sequel, 3001: The Final Odyssey, published by Ballantine in 1997.
       Actor E.G. Marshall sued MGM for $85,000, the salary he claimed he was owed according to a verbal contract, as stated in the 21 Apr 1967 DV. Marshall had reportedly been cast in the role of “Dr. Heywood Floyd,” but he had refused to remain with the project when his demands for “star billing” were not met, and he was offered “special billing” under Dullea, instead. On 3 Apr 1968, DV reported another lawsuit in which the International Space Museum and Gallery of Washington was seeking $1 million in damages from MGM, Polaris Productions, and Stanley Kubrick. The museum claimed to have paid Kubrick’s Hawk Films Ltd. $14,000 for sets, to be exhibited at its opening, concurrent with the Apr 1968 release of the film. On 23 Sep 1967, the contract was allegedly broken when the museum was notified that the sets would not be delivered.
       Kubrick's onscreen credit reads: "This film was directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cosmopolitan
Jul 1968.
---
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1965
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Jun 1966.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1966
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1966.
---
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1966.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
5 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1968
p. 6.
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1968
p. 15.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1968
pp. 3-4.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 May 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Jun 1969
p. 1.
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1969
p. 1.
Filmfacts
1 May 1968
pp. 95-99.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 1968
p. 3.
Life
7 Jun 1968
p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jun 1965
Section B, p. 9, 11.
Los Angeles Times
7 Feb 1967
Section D, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
27 Feb 1968
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
4 Apr 1968
Section E, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
5 Apr 1968
Section E, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
19 Apr 1968
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
28 Apr 1968.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Jun 1968
Calendar, p. 14, 19.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Apr 1968
p. 793.
New Republic
4 May 1968
p. 24.
New York Times
16 Jan 1966
p. 15, 40-41, 43, 46, 51.
New York Times
6 Mar 1966
p. 28, 75-76.
New York Times
4 Apr 1968
p. 58.
New York Times
21 Apr 1968
p. 1, 28.
New York Times
28 Apr 1968
Section D, p. 8.
New York Times
17 May 1970
p. 117.
New York Times
30 Mar 1986
Section A, p. 17.
New Yorker
13 Apr 1968
pp. 150-52.
New Yorker
21 Sep 1968
pp. 180-84.
Newsweek
15 Apr 1968
p. 97.
Saturday Review
20 Apr 1968
p. 48.
Sunday Times (London)
5 May 1968.
---
Time
19 Apr 1968
pp. 91-92.
Variety
9 Jun 1965
p. 13.
Variety
1 Dec 1965
p. 26.
Variety
29 Dec 1965
p. 18.
Variety
26 Jan 1966
p. 14.
Variety
2 Feb 1966
p. 15.
Variety
16 Feb 1966
p. 25.
Variety
10 Aug 1966
p. 24.
Variety
7 Jun 1967
p. 3.
Variety
3 Apr 1968
p. 6.
Variety
3 Apr 1968
p. 7.
Variety
3 Apr 1968
p. 21.
Variety
10 Apr 1968
p. 5, 24.
Variety
15 May 1968
p. 20.
Variety
26 Jun 1968
p. 16.
Variety
17 Jul 1968
p. 49.
Variety
23 Jul 1969
p. 45.
Variety
27 Aug 1969
p. 8.
Variety
22 Oct 1969.
---
Vogue
15 Nov 1966
p. 78.
Vogue
1 Jun 1968
p. 76.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Stanley Kubrick Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod des
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Editorial asst
COSTUMES
SOUND
Sd supv
Sd mixer
Chief dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff des and dir
Spec photog eff supv
Spec photog eff supv
Spec photog eff supv
Spec photog eff supv
Spec photog eff unit
Spec photog eff unit
Spec photog eff unit
Spec photog eff unit
Spec photog eff unit
Spec photog eff unit
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Scientific consultant
Prod supv
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Sentinel of Eternity" ("The Sentinel") by Arthur C. Clarke in Ten Story Fantasy (Spring, 1951).
MUSIC
"Gayaneh Ballet Suite," music by Aram Khatchaturian, performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, courtesy Deutsche Grammophon
"Atmospheres," music by György Ligeti, performed by the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Conductor Ernest Bour
"Lux Aeterna," music by György Ligeti, performed by the Stuttgart Schola Cantorum, Conductor Clytus Gottwald
+
MUSIC
"Gayaneh Ballet Suite," music by Aram Khatchaturian, performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, courtesy Deutsche Grammophon
"Atmospheres," music by György Ligeti, performed by the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Conductor Ernest Bour
"Lux Aeterna," music by György Ligeti, performed by the Stuttgart Schola Cantorum, Conductor Clytus Gottwald
"Requiem," music by György Ligeti, performed by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Conductor Francis Travis
"The Blue Danube," music by Johann Strauss II, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor Herbert von Karajan, courtesy Deutsche Grammophon
Thus Spake Zarathustra , music by Richard Strauss, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor Karl Boehm.
+
SONGS
"Daisy Bell," music and lyrics by Henry Dacre.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A Space Odyssey
Release Date:
3 April 1968
Premiere Information:
Washington, D.C., opening: 2 April 1968
New York opening: 3 April 1968
Los Angeles opening: 4 April 1968
Production Date:
29 December 1965--late August or early September 1966 at MGM British Studios Ltd., Borehamwood, England
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 April 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36136
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor; Metrocolor
gauge
35mm & 70mm
Widescreen/ratio
Super Panavision; Cinerama
Duration(in mins):
140-141, 160 or 162
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21197
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the dawn of mankind, a colony of peaceful vegetarian apes awakens to find a glowing black monolith standing in their midst. After tentatively reaching out to touch the mysterious object, the apes become carnivores, with enough intelligence to employ bones for weapons and tools. Four million years later, in the year 2001, Dr. Heywood Floyd, an American scientist, travels to the moon to investigate a monolith that has been discovered below the lunar surface. Knowing only that the slab emits a deafening sound directed toward the planet Jupiter, the U.S. sends a huge spaceship, the Discovery , on a nine-month, half billion-mile journey to the distant planet. Aboard are astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole, plus three others in frozen hibernation, and a computer called HAL 9000. During the voyage, HAL predicts the failure of a component on one of the spacecraft's antennae. Bowman leaves the ship in a one-man space pod to replace the crucial part; the prediction proves incorrect, however, and when Poole ventures out to replace the original part, HAL severs his lifeline. Bowman goes to rescue him, but HAL closes the pod entry doors and terminates the life functions of the three hibernating astronauts. Forced to abandon Poole, who is already dead, Bowman reenters the Discovery through the emergency hatch and reduces HAL to manual control by performing a mechanical lobotomy on the computer's logic and memory circuits. Now alone, Bowman continues his flight until he encounters a third monolith among Jupiter's moons. Suddenly hurtled into a ... +


At the dawn of mankind, a colony of peaceful vegetarian apes awakens to find a glowing black monolith standing in their midst. After tentatively reaching out to touch the mysterious object, the apes become carnivores, with enough intelligence to employ bones for weapons and tools. Four million years later, in the year 2001, Dr. Heywood Floyd, an American scientist, travels to the moon to investigate a monolith that has been discovered below the lunar surface. Knowing only that the slab emits a deafening sound directed toward the planet Jupiter, the U.S. sends a huge spaceship, the Discovery , on a nine-month, half billion-mile journey to the distant planet. Aboard are astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole, plus three others in frozen hibernation, and a computer called HAL 9000. During the voyage, HAL predicts the failure of a component on one of the spacecraft's antennae. Bowman leaves the ship in a one-man space pod to replace the crucial part; the prediction proves incorrect, however, and when Poole ventures out to replace the original part, HAL severs his lifeline. Bowman goes to rescue him, but HAL closes the pod entry doors and terminates the life functions of the three hibernating astronauts. Forced to abandon Poole, who is already dead, Bowman reenters the Discovery through the emergency hatch and reduces HAL to manual control by performing a mechanical lobotomy on the computer's logic and memory circuits. Now alone, Bowman continues his flight until he encounters a third monolith among Jupiter's moons. Suddenly hurtled into a new dimension of time and space, he is swept into a maelstrom of swirling colors, erupting landscapes and exploding galaxies. At last coming to rest in a pale green bedroom, Bowman emerges from the nonfunctioning space capsule. A witness to the final stages of his life, the withered Bowman looks up from his deathbed at the giant black monolith standing in the center of the room. As he reaches toward it, he is perhaps reborn, perhaps evolved, perhaps transcended, into a new "child of the universe," a fetus floating above the Earth. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.