This is not so much a review as it is me putting you on high alert to this 50th anniversary 70mm presentation of Stanley Kubrick’s landmark science-fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote the screenplay with Kubrick. The film runs from May 18-20 at the Music Box Theatre, although this particular print of the film is not the same one that the Music Box comissioned last year.
In fact, this particular version of 2001 is being dubbed an “unrestored” print because it was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative, using true photochemical film for its recreation, all supervised under the watchful eye of super fan Christopher Nolan. In other words, this is more or less how the film looked to audiences who saw it in 1968, without any modern color enhancement or digital effects shots.
I had a chance to see this version of the print recently, and both the picture and sound are exceptional. But equally impressive is Clarke and Kubrick’s insight into human behavior and our early distrust of artificial intelligence. Featuring Kubrick’s patented brilliant use of music cues alongside staggering segments of complete silence, the sequence in which astronaut Bowman (Keir Dullea) is shutting down his ship’s computer HAL is one that never fails to fill me with both dread and sadness. Says Nolan about the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the greatest and most radical cinematic experiences of all time. I consider it a great privilege to be involved in offering that experience to a new generation of moviegoers in its original analogue glory.”
If you’ve never seen 2001 in 70mm and you live within 200 miles of the Music Box Theatre, you really have no excuse to miss this extraordinary presentation; and if you’ve never seen the film at all, there’s a gaping void in your knowledge of all things cinema. And this release serves as the perfect prologue to the upcoming, four-film, Kubrick/Filmworker series that begins at the theater on June 1 (more on that in a couple of weeks).