April 6-7, 2024
Written by Chris Daniel
Culturally speaking, there have been several masterpieces that completely diminished the gap between studio pictures and art films, but only few managed to stand the tests of time. Hanging tightly onto its cult status is none other than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a science fiction film so advanced for its time that it continues to break the boundaries of modern cinema.
For anyone unfamiliar with the film, we highly encourage you to watch it and pay very close attention to what is on the screen. At almost three hours in duration, some will argue that it is too long or requires too much attention ‘to understand’. But the true purpose of the film wasn’t to make hasty predictions about the future; instead, it focuses on the grim nature of mankind and their desire to know more, in some cases too much.
A powerful story of evolution, discovery and the journey into the unknown, the film focuses on two specific time periods; one being four million years ago at the dawn of mankind, the other in [what was considered to be] the near future, 2001. Setting off on a quest to Jupiter in order to find the origin of the monolith discovered at the lunar surface, the S.S. Discovery and its crew must discover what alien force has been watching earth.
In 2018, we celebrate 50 years since the release of the cinematic masterpiece, and you would be surprised with the accuracy and attention to detail. In this article, we compiled a list of the five ideas Kubrick predicted that became reality.
Man on the moon
A year before Neil Armstrong made his famous ‘one small step for man’ remark, 2001: A Space Odyssey depicted the pod landing on the moon eerily accurately. Though he had the help of NASA on that front, Kubrick managed to capture one of mankind’s biggest achievements through the lens a year before it even happened.
HAL 9000 is one of the most surprising villains in film history, representing the dangers of advanced technology and artificial intelligence. Not to jump too far ahead, but we can safely admit that the AI system has compatible traits to that of Siri, not in its desire to overthrow us, but its capabilities of control and communication.
The 1968 film teased technology far beyond the audience’s wildest imagination.
Personal in-flight screens, touchscreen tablets and transmission calls were conceived to science fiction themselves. Fast forward a matter of decades and a vast majority of these are part of our daily routines, including Skype and handheld devices.
Robotics in space
Robotics are second nature in the world of science, but it wasn’t until 1981 that NASA used its first robotic arm in space. Being one of the lesser surprising predictions, the film’s use of robotics defines the beauty of fiction meeting reality.
We are yet to see space tourism extend to the general public, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Astronauts had been shot into space before the film’s release, but tourism by business personnel didn’t become available until the 1980s.
2001: A Space Odyssey is loosely based on two of Arthur C. Clarke’s short stories, written by Clarke and Kubrick in book and script form. Both tell the story of evolution and the future in regards to technology. Some of the predicted outcomes came true, but we may still be a step behind for some of the others. The 50th anniversary shines a spotlight on the impact the film had on the industry and how it paved the way for science fiction films in the future. We can hardly say that cinema would be the same today if it weren’t for the mind-boggling journey that Kubrick daringly invited us on.