2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
American actor Gary Lockwood on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey, written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
The criteria for a film to be chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry is that it must be deemed culturally, historically and/or aesthetically significant by the United States Library of Congress. 2001: A Space Odyssey has checked all of the boxes and is included in the registry. It is widely regarded as one of the most influential films ever made.
This powerful science fiction film was released in 1968. In the beginning, a group of man-apes found themselves lacking food and water necessary for survival. As the plot was revealed, necessity drove the man-apes to search for alternative food and water supplies, which they eventually found. This resulted in a new way of life that launched them into evolution. They began to develop mental and physical abilities they never had before, including speech. The end result of this evolution was to be “man.”
The film documented Discovery One’s voyage into space after the disturbing discovery of the man-apes, which threatened the evolution of the human race. Aboard the spacecraft were highly regarded doctors and scientists. The spacecraft’s mission and operation were to be controlled by HAL, a computer thought to be incapable of error. HAL attempted to warn the astronauts of a malfunction. HAL was thought to be acting strangely so the crew ultimately dismissed the warning.
As the story played out, the film provided a culturally relevant connection between the past and the future. For years, the question of life on other planets had been out there. Alien and extraterrestrial sightings had been reported from time to time. In 1968, most people couldn’t even begin to wrap their minds around anything computerized. We had no personal knowledge of any such thing. It was just something we had heard and read about.
After the many trials of the mission, one of the astronauts was chosen to be the Starchild. In the end, he was sent back to Earth in order to further his mission; the evolution of the human race.
2001: A Space Odyssey was a groundbreaking and mind-bending film that introduced us to space and time travel. It was like nothing we’d seen before. Not only was there extraterrestrial life, but the film was a tense competition and showdown between man and computer. It was a real nail-biter.
The film addressed human evolution, extraterrestrial life, space travel, science and technology all in one. It was really deep. Producers responsibly went above and beyond to be scientifically accurate. Additionally, some of the special effects in the film were groundbreaking. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a pioneer science fiction film.
To quote film critic, Roger Ebert:
2001: A Space Odyssey is a stand-along monument, a great visionary leap, unsurpassed in its vision of man and the universe. It was a statement that came at a time which now looks something like the peak of humanity’s technological optimism.
In my humble opinion, I believe he hit the nail on the head.
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