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2001: A Space Odyssey
United Kingdom 1968
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Running time 141 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


This iconic 70s space age fantasy, adapted from a novella by Arthur C. Clarke who wrote the screenplay with Kubrick is regularly referred to as the "greatest" sci-fi film ever made. Which is probably true and may also not be saying a lot.

Almost two and a half years in production at a cost of over $10 million (double the original budget), it is technically meticulous and hauntingly atmospheric, although somewhat lacking dramatically with an only at-best schematic "lost in space" narrative. 

Contemporary critics were understandably divided as to its merits as it offered little in the way of conventional film-goer's satisfactions however the remarkable, enigmatic final section goes a long way to excusing its head-scratching obscurities and two hour run-time. We should be grateful however as the very first print shown to MGM executives had an 10 minute explanatory prologue from a number of scientific talking heads which Kubrick dropped and although originally released at 160 mins the director cut it to 141 mins after its New York premiere.

The film chimed with the spirit of the times, being both a "head" movie and a precursor to the first Moon landing which occurred the following year (Kubrick has been touted as orchestrating the faking of which in the excellent mockumentary Dark Side of the Moon) but over the years its stature has if anything grown as it has become a pop cultural icon and although there have been some technically impressive contenders since, its glorious status remains intact.

 

 

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