Anybody there? “2001: A Space Odyssey” 50 years later

Hippies may have saved “2001.” “Stoned audiences” flocked to the movie, shouting “It’s God! It’s God!”. David Bowie took a few drops of cannabis tincture before watching, and countless others dropped acid. John Lennon said he saw the film “every week.” The studio soon caught on, and a new tagline was added to the movie’s redesigned posters: “The ultimate trip.”


Kubrick wanted his film to explore:

“the reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life,” and what it would mean if we discovered it.

What would the aliens look like?

“You cannot imagine the unimaginable” and, after trying more ornate designs, Kubrick settled on the monolith. Its eerily neutral and silent appearance at the crossroads of human evolution evokes the same wonder for members of the audience as it does for characters in the film. Kubrick realized that, if he was going to make a film about human fear and awe, the viewer had to feel those emotions as well.

NASA’s Web site has a list of all the details that “2001” got right, from flat-screen displays and in-flight entertainment to jogging astronauts: “We designed a way to live, […] down to the last knife and fork.”. Many elements from his set designs were contributions from major brands—Whirlpool, Macy’s, DuPont, Parker Pens, Nikon—which quickly cashed in on their big-screen exposure. If 2001 the year looked like “2001” the movie, it was partly because the film’s imaginary design trends were made real. The film abounds in little screens, tablets, and picturephones; in 2011, Samsung fought an injunction from Apple over alleged patent violations by citing the technology in “2001” as a predecessor for its designs.

I.B.M. consulted on the plans for HAL, but the idea to use the company’s logo fell through after Kubrick described him in a letter as “a psychotic computer.” The unbearable pathos of HAL’s disconnection scene, one of the most mournful death scenes ever filmed, suggests that when we do end up with humanlike computers, we’re going to have some wild ethical dilemmas on our handsHAL is a child, around nine years old, as he tells Dave at the moment he senses he’s finished. He’s precocious, indulged, needy, and vulnerable; more human than his human overseers, with their stilted, near robotic delivery.