2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) – The Movie


A film could be better understood only by understanding it together with the milieu and the time of its making.  Only when we approach 2001 A Space Odyssey, in this way, it can be better appreciated as Kubrick’s most influential films of our time. As we had earlier discussed in the articles on novel of this same work few days back, I would like to concentrate on just highlighting how the movie version differs from the novel version.

Always it is a Herculean task to adapt a novel for a film. The novel approaches the readers from the literary perspective. But as cinema is a visual medium its approach is quite different from this. The same man as a reader and as a viewer has different expectations of the same work in these two moulds. That is the ultimate challenge in taking up a novel for making it into a film.

Here too like the novel the film is divided into three sections of which the Moon watcher’s story is same in celluloid as in the novel. From the side of the director it was a dangerous game being played, as the entire first section has no dialogue and the entire storyline is narrated completely through visuals, and the viewer is left on his own to interpret and understand the story themselves. All we hear is the Babel of apes.


Kubrick with great craftsmanship handles the visuals and much of the story progresses through visuals rather than the progression through dialogues. In fact this is one of the most important differences between the styles of treatment in theatre and cinema.

The visual grandeur of the film is breath taking for its time. It is even the same for today, perhaps because this was a film far ahead of its time. All the photographic special effects were designed and directed by Kubrick himself. We should remember that the visual effects handled in the film had all been created in an era of no computers. We should be reminded of this while viewing the film. Besides all the special effects handled in the film had no real time references, for the manned mission to moon became a reality only a year after the film release (1969). This makes us understand the visionary genius of Kubrick and his team for creating these rich visuals.

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It is interesting to note here that this richness on screen created an alternative theory that was gossiped for years. You may know that there are theories which suspend the landing of man on moon as a hoax, and the believers have strong points and evidences for their claims. In fact there are many documentaries on ‘The moon landing hoax’. It is rumored that it was Kubrick who conceived and designed elaborate sets inside NASA and the landing on moon was actually shot similar to a film shooting. These are only claims. Nonetheless taking into account that the cold war between US and Soviet was at its peak, by that time, anything could have happened.

The supporters of moon landing hoax theory do confront the believers of the same with one important question. If moon landing was true, and human race was prepared enough for it as early as 1969, why is not another manned mission to other planets, or at least again a moon landing has become a reality till date. This question is logical and relevant.

Well getting back to the movie, in the next article we shall see exclusively on Stanley’s directorial genius in handling this epic space adventure story and transferring it masterly into filmatic language.


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