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2001: A Space Odyssey, October 22

The Mechanical Age

Sunday, October 22, 2006
3:00 p.m. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick (U.S., 1968)

Stanley Kubrick's cinematic milestone was in every sense an experimental film, harnessing the widescreen, epic format for an intensely metaphysical, ultimately very personal use. Shot in Super Panavision 70 and presented in Cinerama, 2001 was conceived less as a science fiction narrative than as an experience in space and time. As a re-creation of the dimensions of outer space—taking us beyond deep focus into infinite focus—it has never been matched. Neither has the grace with which Kubrick's pristine visuals literally waltz through several millennia of evolution in a mere two-plus hours of film containing very little dialogue. The film's most memorable character, the computer Hal, is the embodiment of evolutionary anxiety. Is Hal, both friend and foe, the first indication that we are leaving the mechanical age for the digital one—or is he just another machine that wants to be a human being?

• Written by Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, from Clarke's story "The Sentinel." Photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth. With Keir Dullea, Garry Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter. (143 mins, Color, 'Scope, 35mm, From Warner Bros.)