2001: A Space Odyssey Explained and Review – Is it Boring or a Masterpiece?


Based on the screenplay written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey talks about human evolution and the very possibility of extraterrestrial life. 2001: A Space Odyssey was the second-highest-grossing film of the year 1968 in the United States. The film is also considered as a masterpiece in filmmaking and is currently preserved in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was also produced by him. The film was nominated for a total of four Academy Awards out of which Stanley won for the best director in Visual Effects. 

2001: A Space Odyssey starts with a Prehistoric sequence that shows some apes around a pool of water. The apes around these times were not much advanced and were driven away by another more powerful tribe of apes. After some time, these apes find a monolith ( which has not been shown where it came from ). Finding the monolith, these apes change and discover how to use bones as a weapon for survival. They then go back to the pool and drive their rival tribe away from the pool.

This is the first big evolution that brought a change in human history. Millions of years later, Dr. Heywood Floyd, Chairman of the United States National Council of Astronautics goes to Clavius Base ( A United States post on the Moon ) to Tycho ( A lunar crater ) to examine the discovery of a monolith structure that seems to be placed four million years ago. Upon struck by sunlight, It starts emitting High-power radio signals towards Jupiter.

Eighteen months later, spacecraft Discovery One sets its course for Jupiter. This was the second evolution brought by the monolith. The humans have now learned hibernation sleep and developed a supercomputer capable of perceiving emotions. Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole are onboard the ship unaware of the mission objective. There are three more crew members in hibernation sleep so as to save resources on the spacecraft. HAL 9000 supercomputer is controlling the whole of the spacecraft which is termed as the most advanced and human approach in technology. 

Hal reports that there has been an error in one of the antenna control device. After investigating, Dave and Frank nothing. One of the previous Mission control tells the astronauts that Hal is experiencing a defect in its device failure recognizing system. Listening to this, Both of them talk secretly in a pod and decide to disconnect Hal and turn him offline. Hal is intelligent enough that he reads their lips. 

When Frank is outside replacing the antenna device, Hal takes control of the pod, cuts down the oxygen hose, and sets him free in space. He dies instantly. Dave takes another pod to rescue Frank’s body and forgets to take his helmet. When he returns, Hal has already cut down life support systems of the three crew members in Hibernation resulting in their death. He refuses to let Dave in.

Dave enters manually through the airlock and goes at first to disconnect Hal. In his dying moments, Hal plays a pre-recorded message from Dr. Floyd who tells Dave about the radio signal and the possibility of an extraterrestrial life near Jupiter. 

When Dave reaches towards Jupiter’s horizon, He finds the third monolith orbiting Jupiter. He leaves Discovery One in a pod to find out but is suddenly pulled towards colored lights and cosmological phenomena and odd landscapes of different colors. He finally ends up in a room that looks neoclassical in the structure where he sees different aged versions of himself. 

There can be multiple theories regarding this room. It can be a higher dimension lab made by more advanced aliens or a place where God lives. Dave’s very old version is lying on bed and sees the final monolith in the film in front of himself. The third evolution occurs and Dave is transformed into a fetus enclosed in an orb of light floating near the Earth.

Talking about the message from the film, there can be a lot but one is for sure – that no matter what, there is someone ( God or a highly advanced superior alien race ) watching at us all the time and they are solely responsible for bringing changes in human histories.

The direction of Stanley Kubrick is a cult and is being studied to date. The music is epic along with production design. 

Made on a budget of $10-$12 million, the film was a commercial and became the highest-grossing film of the year if lifetime collection is taken. The total is somewhere near $190 million. 

This film can be boring, frustrating, and irritating for some class of cinema lovers but on the other side can be looked at as a masterpiece. What are your thoughts about it? Comment down below.

What do you think?