Philosophically ambitious, technically innovative and visually stunning, Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi epic is frequently cited in polls as one of the finest films ever made.
Co-written by the director and novelist Arthur C Clarke, the film charts the progress of ‘civilisation’ through the influence of mysterious black monoliths on prehistoric apes developing their skills and, later, on astronauts involved in a secret mission to Jupiter. Characteristic of Kubrick’s interest in evolution and artificial intelligence (most notably in the astronauts’ battle of wits with troublesome computer HAL 9000), the film also displays his desire for technical perfection: Geoffrey Unsworth’s camerawork, Douglas Trumbull’s pioneering effects and the production design remain enormously impressive to this day. But what’s perhaps most striking is the audacity of the measured, largely dialogue-free storytelling, with Kubrick allowing the judiciously chosen music (Ligeti, Khachaturian, the two Strausses) and the crisp, balletic beauty of the images to work their spell. A cinematic milestone, and a huge influence on the development of the sci-fi genre.
Certificate: U Distributor: BFI
Dir. Stanley Kubrick, US/UK, 1968, 160 mins
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Douglas Rain