Behind the Scenes Photos of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

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2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1968 pioneering science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. The screenplay, written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, was so advanced that a novel of the same name and written at the same time as the screenplay was released soon after the film’s release.

The film, which follows a journey to Jupiter, delves into topics such as human evolution, existentialism, technology and artificial intelligence, and the possibility of alien life. The film’s synopsis reads: “A towering black structure connects past and future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. When Dr Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship’s computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly bizarre behavior, leading to a tense confrontation between the humans and the machine which results in an incredible journey through space and time.

After completing work on Dr Strangelove, Kubrick spent a lot of time pondering the possibility of alien life forms and vowed to himself that he would make “the right proverbial sci-fi movie.” Sure, he accomplished a lot more than he thought possible at the time, but that initial goal led him to enlist the help of accomplished sci-fi writer Clarke, even though Kubrick believed that he was “a nut that lives in a tree”.

Selected from Clarke’s 1951 short story The Sentinel as a starting point, Kubrick and Clarke formulated the script for the film together while Clarke also worked on a novelization of their collaboration. It is important to note that there are several differences between the novel and the film, as is often the case when masters of different mediums choose to tell the same story in their respective ways. Clarke’s text describes the motivations of extraterrestrial species, gives proper context to the iconic black monolith, and rationalizes cosmic nonsense.

Kubrick, on the other hand, constructs a vision that relies on the combination of pioneering images and a beautiful score composed of works like that of Richard Strauss. Also Sprach Zarathustra (allusion to Kubrick’s interpretation of Nietzschean philosophy) as well as that of Johann Strauss II The Blue Danube. “2001“Kubrick explained in an interview,” Is essentially a visual experience and not a verbal one. It avoids intellectual verbalization and reaches the viewer’s unconscious in an essentially poetic and philosophical way. The film thus becomes a subjective experience that strikes the viewer on an inner level of consciousness, just like music, or painting… I think that 2001, like music, succeeds in bypassing the rigid surface cultural blocks that bind our consciousness to narrowly limited areas of experience and is able to cut directly into areas of emotional understanding.

(Credit: MGM / Alamy)

The making of the film suffered multiple setbacks and delays as Kubrick maximized the budget for his obscenely ambitious project. He and Clarke went back and forth with drastic rewrites, and the film was finally released on April 2, 1968 at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC, 2001: A Space Odyssey opinion shared at all levels. Famous columnist Pauline Kael is famous (and somewhat loosely) labeled 2001 as a “monumental unimaginative film” when others saw it as a very spiritual experience. It was so popular among students who used psychoactive substances before entering the theater that the marketing team decided to call it “the ultimate trip”.

However, grappling with bad reviews, Kubrick described them as “dogmatically atheist and materialistic and down to earth.” Arguably his work years ahead of his time, those mixed reviews will now all be converted to five stars. In 1991, the film was labeled “of cultural, historical or aesthetic significance” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Divided into four parts, Kubrick’s scope of vision is ambitious to put it lightly. From “The dawn of man”, 2001 shows us ephemeral vignettes of the primitive life of our hominid ancestors in the prehistoric African veldt. They lead relatively simple lives, remain loyal to their own clans, and survive on natural resources. Suddenly, Kubrick introduces us to the protagonist of his film: a giant black monolith with sharp edges that stands out like a surreal anachronism. This causes a kind of awakening in the monkeys that came before us, making them aware of their own abilities. The only caveat is that humanity’s capacity has a dangerous duality – the act of creation also holds the cynical potential for destruction. Yes Dr Strangelove was an allegorical satire on the precariousness of our future due to nuclear weapons, 2001 shows us the origin of the arms race. We see the first monkey in history arming (with a bone) and beating the others until they submit, feasting on the flesh of defeated animals and standing triumphantly over the corpse of ‘a defeated brother.

The filling of lists of “greatest movies of all time” across the world 50 years later and Kubrick’s sci-fi epic still influence modern cinema. Here in some behind-the-scenes footage you can see how he did it.

(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM / Alamy)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)
(Credit: MGM)

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