This week marked the 50th anniversary of the UK release of Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gaming Respawn were invited down to Picturehouse Central cinema in Central London today to view the original 70mm director’s cut of the movie. This article will take you through my day at the movies.
Upon arrival, I was invited to go into the screen room and get comfortable ahead of the showing at 10AM. The seats were ultra comfy and reclined just enough so you can stretch out as far as you can go. Before I went in, I took advantage of the free teas, coffees and pastries on offer; they were unlimited, which is always music to my ears. The showing began with some orchestral score from the movie, and the curtain peeled back to reveal one of the biggest screens I have seen outside of IMAX.
As someone who had never seen the movie at any point in my life until now, it took me by complete surprise how good the film looked. The cinematography was incredible, and the orchestral score was superb but there were some noises that I could have done without hearing, especially when the black monolith emitted a screech that I think was meant specifically to make the audience’s ears bleed, as well as the characters on-screen. They did repeat the score at points, which make some of the film seem less epic than it should have been. When comparing it to modern films, it does hold up pretty well as the effects that are in the movie are done in such a way that they are believable. The way modern blockbusters use the effects can come across as cheesy, whereas every single one of the effects in this movie were well done and felt appropriate for the scenario.
The only real gripes I could find with this movie was that they did not really flesh out the two main characters’ backstories, which means you don’t really felt invested in their story. All we found out about the first character, Dr. Heywood Floyd, is that he is married with a little daughter, and that is all we ever find out about him before his story concludes with a deafening meeting with the monolith. After that scene ends, Floyd is not seen again for the rest of the movie. The whole next hour-hour and a half is spent watching the crew travel to Jupiter, but the big event is that the onboard computer, HAL 9000, starts to malfunction, which leads to the deaths of all but one of the crew. That last member of the crew, Dr. David Bowman, deactivates the AI, and then the last 20 minutes of the movie is just really weird. It is sort of like a psychedelic journey into the unknown. The monolith makes its second-to-last appearance in the movie and places David in a pristine white room. From there, David is taken into his own future where he ends up seeing himself at different stages of his life. He sees himself as an elderly man and finally on his death bed, and the monolith makes its final appearance in the movie as it transforms David into a fetus which is then seen floating in the orbit of Earth.
This movie, in my personal opinion, is one of those bucket list movies that needs to be seen in a person’s lifetime. It definitely is a classic. The story may be a little hard to follow in parts, and the characters could have been fleshed out a little better, but the overall movie is just an incredible spectacle and is a must-see for anyone who enjoys the science fiction genre. I had heard what turned out to be some of this movie’s orchestral scores in other mediums, but I genuinely never knew where some of those orchestral scores came from until now. Now I know where that music from when Homer Simpson ate crisps onboard a space shuttle came from. I also found out that Futurama ripped off the malfunctioning AI storyline in the episode ‘Love and Rocket’ where Bender starts dating the ship, and once the ship mistreats the crew, they shut down the AI in the same way as in the movie. The score is also used in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
In summation, find a way of watching this absolute classic of a movie, you will not regret it at all.