2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

MGM

Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood.

Rating: G.

Run time: 139 mins..

Genre: Science fiction.

Verdict: Brilliant (see rating system)

Made the year before the first American astronauts walked on the moon, director Stanley Kubrick's classic sci-fi film recalls an exciting time in space exploration and feverish speculation about alien civilizations.

Winner of the Oscar for Best Special Effects, 2001 took viewers on an amazing journey through time, from the first apes on Earth and the stirrings of human intelligence to the era of space stations - and the discovery of alien monliths buried on the moon proving that man is not alone. It's as much a psychological trip as a real one and the film poses many questions about the purpose and destiny of man. The mysterious ending is open to your own interpretation!

This is also the film that introduced us to the power of the computer - particularly the rogue Hal 9000 voiced by the eloquent Douglas Rain. It disrupts a mission to discover the truths behind the monoliths.

As spaceships float through space to the music of Johann Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz, the Universe seems to be an enchanting place. However, as with other futuristic visions, the movie was overly optimistic about how fast progress would be made. A trip to the moon in 2000 was envisaged as a commonplace event, like taking an taxi, when the reality is that space travel remains a dangerous and uncertain business that only a tiny handful of humans will ever experience.

Hollywood was quick to cash in on the space age. When this movie was made in 1968, the groundbreaking Star Trek TV series was in the middle of its first run, becoming a cult classic in repeat airings over subsequent decades.

2001 set the standard for special effects for subsequent films like Star Wars, Alien and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. With no computer effects available, trick photography and other techniques took 18 months to complete.

With its long sequences without dialogue and artistic design, 2001 remains an unusual and beautiful film.

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