In 1968, I was 12 years old and one day I went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey with my dad. I remember it as being the first film we went to see together so that was special but what made the experience so much more was what I saw up on the screen.
As a kid I was (and still am) a life-long science fiction fan. For a clumsy kid with glasses, it was my escape from the world, it promised the capacity for change, the discovery of the new and the promises that implied. But growing up in the 60’s meant as far as films were concerned there weren’t a lot of truly thoughtful options out there. Of course, there were exceptions, classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, and Invasion of The Body Snatchers come to mind. The commonality of each of these films was to reach out to you past the spaceships and aliens with insights into what makes us human and what that means for our futures. Going into 2001 I had no idea what I was about to see other than I’d heard there was a lot of classical music in it.
When I experienced the cold, technical brilliance of what Kubrick had assembled my first reaction was that he had taken all the best intentions of the films that preceded his and just took everything to the next level. And it was a big step… Cool, hip, beautifully shot with spectacular physical and camera effects that stand-up 53 years later. Kubrick wanted to take us all someplace we had never been before because we couldn’t imagine it. Aided immeasurably by author Arthur C. Clarke, he took astronaut Dave Bowman on a journey through the monolith to achieve enlightenment. This was definitely a 1960’s Age of Aquarius thing but done so with quiet confidence and competence never seen before.
Future me figured this all out later, 12-year-old me immediately spent my hard-earned cash on the 2001 soundtrack and happily listened to classical music while dreaming of a gateway to the stars…
Raconteur of useless trivia, most awkward hugger possible. I co-founded this. Pauline Kael stole the name of my upcoming autobiography…