The 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is a drama about technology and space exploration that many consider to be far ahead of its time. Though it was created several decades ago, its use of effects, scientific accuracy, and advanced cinematography make it appear more like a movie from after the early 2000s.
The film opens with a tribe of apes who are involved in a rivalry with another group. After being driven away from their territory, they later wake up to discover an alien machine has appeared in front of them. Subsequently, the animals learn how to use bones as weapons against their rivals, which seems to be a result of the machine’s mysterious appearance. Millions of years later, a group of astronauts discover what appears to be that same type of alien machine, or monolith, on the surface of the moon. The mission is top secret and though it is not explicitly stated in the beginning how this connects to the rest of the movie, it is presumed this has something to do with the later mission.
Eighteen months after this discovery, an American spacecraft takes off for Jupiter with a group of pilots and scientists on board. The spacecraft, Discovery One, is equipped with a hightech computer called the HAL 9000. This piece of equipment is the most interesting part about the overall vehicle, as this type of technology is newly developed and seemingly extraordinary.
Supposedly, this computer does not have the ability to produce a false statement by its own doing, only by human error. Not only does it seem to work perfectly, it also has a human personality and the ability to communicate with others. The main characters Dr. Bowman and Dr. Poole, portrayed by actors Kier Dullea and Gary Lockwood, are the first to notice that there may be flaws in the machine.
When HAL makes a mistake, it blames it on human error, since they are meant to believe it is incapable of messing up. However, the two scientists grow skeptical of the computer and its ability to provide them with accurate information. When they attempt to discuss their concerns in private, HAL reads their lips, ruining their secret communication. When their suspicions start to threaten the HAL 9000, its human qualities shine through more than ever as we see it defend its life.
A cautionary tale of sorts, 2001: A Space Odyssey warns about the dangers of putting too much trust in machines while showing the story of a space adventure that was well ahead of its time. Created when technology was still in its early days, this movie shows a unique perspective of what could happen if we let computers have too much power over us.
The film tackles a lot of different themes, like the questions of our own existence and mortality, the aforementioned debate of technology, and evolution, to name a few. Even decades after its release, it is still wellreceived by viewers as a well-made film that forces its audience to think about things in a new way.