2001: A Space Odyssey
Iconic cinematic marvel that fuses the best of British scientific romance and American science fiction.
Though he had never touched science fiction before, when American director Stanley Kubrick turned his hand to the genre with 2001: A Space Odyssey, he created perhaps the most iconic of all science-fiction movies. With the redoubtable Arthur C Clarke at his side (and working on the novel simultaneously), Kubrick fashioned a screenplay based on the British author’s 1951 short story, ‘The Sentinel’, ostensibly about a manned expedition to Jupiter attempting to locate the source of a mysterious signal.
Some critics found the film’s stately procession cold and ponderous, others felt it was majestic and engrossing. None could disagree that the special effects were - and in some cases still are - state of the art. The film’s clinical, techno-centric future is demonstrably American, yet its theme - the future evolutionary destiny of man (and machines, as seen in the tragic vignette of the coming of age and subsequent psychosis of the ship’s computer, HAL) - places it firmly in the British tradition. Kubrick’s visualisation of the minutiae of space travel is unmatched, and his use of music has practically seared Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra on to the consciousness of our species.