2001: A Space Odyssey and its influence on space exploration in sci-fi movies.
By Tom Bielby.
Since the dawn of time humans have always been intrigued by the stars. As we have evolved so to has our desire to explore the cosmos, and ancient cave paintings that have been discovered confirm that our distant ancestors also shared an affinity with the night sky. The vast expanse of space provides Science-Fiction writers with a wealth of possibilities to explore – the only limit, their imagination – and their stories have inspired legions of devoted fans who are passionate about the genre and its incarnations on the big screen. Filmmakers have constantly battled against the limitations of technology to depict such adventures into outer space as realistically as possible, and it could be argued that a crucial turning point for the genre came along with the release of a certain science-fiction feature in 1968…
One of the most influential films in this field is undoubtedly Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a monumental production that transported viewers to the depths of space with an imaginative visual style that paved the way for those who followed. Based on a short story The Sentinel by the seminal Sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke, the screenplay for 2001 was a collaborative project between Clarke and Kubrick that takes the audience on an incredible voyage into space but also explores the origins of mankind, with its philosophical leanings adding to the awe and wonder of a spectacular journey undertaken by three brave astronauts.
Charting the evolution of mankind, 2001’s mysteriously fascinating opening scene transports us to prehistoric times, where a group of apes encounter a strange monolith. We then flash forward thousands of years to a space station where, in one of the most memorable sequences of the film, its revolutions mimic those of a bone thrown into the air by one of the apes. We then see the discovery of a second monolith on the moon, prompting an ill-fated voyage to Jupiter where the astronauts on board face all manner of dangers along the way, culminating in an unforgettable encounter.
Viewers who are yet to witness the spectacle of 2001: A Space Odyssey on a big screen should relish the opportunity to see this masterpiece as it was meant to be seen during the BFI’s very own science-fiction programme Days of Fear and Wonder that heralds the re-release of Kubrick’s visionary space epic amongst others. Full details of the incredible programme can be found here: www.bfi.org.uk/sci-fi-days-fear-wonder.