Source: Kentucky.com Lexington Herald Leader
Written By: Rich Copley (Herald-Leader Culture Writer)
Submitted by: Lesmond
Keir Dullea never stops talking about 2001: A Space Odyssey.
“It’s one of 23 features I’ve done,” Dullea says, “but quite separate from that fact, to have been in such an iconic film and be part of something that is part of film history is very fulfilling, very exciting.”
Dullea played astronaut Dave Bowman — think, “Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this,” as the malfunctioning HAL 9000 computer understated while Dave shut him down.
Stanley Kubrick’s landmark film left us with indelible images — of HAL, of the bone turning into a spaceship, of the zero-gravity toilet, of the star child. American Movie Classics honored it as one of the Movies That Shook the World.
The half-hour documentary addressed how the film broke ground in science-fiction filmmaking, influenced the space program, raised thought-provoking spiritual questions and might have the distinction of being one of the first mainstream movies marketed to psychedelic drug users with its “Ultimate Trip” tagline.
Not that it was initially embraced en masse.
Many of the initial reviews of the movie were negative, including influential New Yorker critic Pauline Kael, who called it “monumentally unimaginative.” In the AMC documentary, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert recalls Rock Hudson walking out of the movie asking whether anyone could tell him what it was about.
“It was about all of the questions mankind asks itself, if we are thinking at all,” says Kubrick’s widow, Christiane Kubrick. “What might be out there and what are our lives and death about.
“If you remove yourself of any dogma or any fixed religion, there are a great many questions, and you are stuck with a very small brain just big enough to realize it isn’t big enough.
“All the questions we ask ourselves come very elegantly in this film. Stanley didn’t claim to know the answers, he wanted to ask the questions along with the audience.”
And that, she says, is why the film has endured: “We are no closer to knowing the answers now than we were then.”
The film’s influence has endured in subsequent science-fiction films.
Before 1968, sci-fi was mainly a genre of ray guns and cheesy aliens. Kubrick’s movie made the genre respectable, in large part because of its scientific accuracy.
Arthur C. Clarke’s short story The Sentinel was the initial inspiration for movie; he wrote the screenplay with Kubrick.
“Arthur C. Clarke hit our house like a bomb,” Christiane Kubrick said, recalling that he had a lot of interests beyond science, such as tropical fish and India. Like their movie, the friendship between the director and the writer endured, she said.
As time went on, the movie was credited with accurately predicting things such as the pervasive use of computers. Many pieces of space technology have been named for the film, such as the HAL/S aerospace computer language used in the space shuttle.
And even though many of the movie’s technological dreams have been realized, the film still fascinates.
Christiane Kubrick says her husband “always said this was a story that would last a long time.”
It raised questions we still can’t answer