Four million years ago the tribe of Moonwatcher (Daniel Richter) is engaged in conflict with a rival group. After an encounter with an alien monolith, Moonwatcher leads his tribe to victory when he discovers the use of bones as bludgeons. In the year 2001 the same monolith has been discovered on the moon's surface and an expedition tracking its radio signal is sent to Jupiter. When the rest of the crew are terminated by the ship's computer, HAL (voice of Douglas Rain), surviving astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) attempt to disable HAL and complete their mission. Bowman discovers the true nature of the mission, and is himself transported beyond the known universe.
2001 is Stanley Kubrick’s most famous and accomplished film. It’s also his most misunderstood – indeed there’s very little to really understand about it. It’s a film that’s best left to the senses and imagination (as Kubrick suggested) rather than the intellect. It says a lot about the power of its director as well as the achievements and limitations of cinema as both art and entertainment.
Kubrick blended the two throughout his career with the patience and strategy of a master chess player. He knew what worked best in cinema and if he didn’t discover it in pre-production he’d go to great lengths to discover it during the shoot. The multiple-take myth endures to this day, but it really didn’t matter in the end, because the final product was always something unique – made extraordinary by the sheer force of its creator’s will. Every angle, every cut, and every lighting set-up was the right one, and the reason for being of any great film – its script and realisation thereof – was remarkable, unforgettable and utterly distinct.
2001 is a film of clearly defined space, both circumscribed and infinite. Kubrick was quite possibly a modern day D.W Griffith and 2001 is the great silent film of the modern era.