Celebrations Begin As 2001: A Space Odyssey Turns 50

Celebrations Begin As 2001: A Space Odyssey Turns 50

Fifty years ago Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ made its cinematic premiere and changed the film industry’s perception of science fiction forever.

At the Uptown Theatre in Washington D.C. on April 2nd 1968 – ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ made its cinematic debut and Stanley Kubrick was recognised for creating a career defining masterpiece that earned the director an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1969.

As the film celebrates its half-century landmark, ‘2001’ remains as important today as at any time in the last fifty years.

From a screenplay collaboratively created by Stanley Kubrick and author, Arthur C. Clarke, both Kubrick’s realistic on-screen vision of human existence in space and Clarke’s concurrently developed novelisation of the story (published shortly after the film release) have stood the test of time.

With an iconic opening sequence, dramatic slow-build and unmistakable classical music score, the film exudes all the qualities of an epic cinematic experience. Way ahead of its time, many of the technologies predicted by Kubrick and Clarke in 1968 are now commonplace in everyday life.

Sci-Fi Chronicles

Very different to modern cinema, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ offers an almost primal viewing experience. With minimal traditional narrative the filmmaker creates tension and atmosphere through the clever use of sound and a meticulously sourced classical score. Yet where spoken narrative exists come some of the most recognisable soundbites in science fiction history.

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“I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” – Hal 9000

Dealing with concepts of evolution, existentialism, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life spanning millenia, at fifty years old, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is essential viewing for any science fiction fan.

Forming part of the fifty year celebrations for ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, a 70mm unrestored version of the film will return to cinema screens in May. A statement from Warner Bros. confirms that this is an unmissable treat for the purist:

“For the first time since the original release, this 70mm print was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative. This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits.”

In London this April 28th, a special screening will take place at the Royal Festival Hall with a live musical score provided by the London philharmonic orchestra:

Following sell-out performances in recent years, the enormous forces of the Philharmonia Orchestra and Philharmonia Voices come together under conductor André de Ridder to perform the film’s extraordinary soundtrack, as a live accompaniment to a screening of the film at Royal Festival Hall.

Many other celebrations are taking place. But if you do one thing this week, watch ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and be thankful for a piece of cinematic history that shaped modern science fiction film.

Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd