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‘2001: A Space Odyssey’: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Film

'2001: A Space Odyssey': 5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Film

Forty-five years ago today, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Stanley Kubrick‘s classic science-fiction movie, premiered at the Uptown Theater in Washington D.C. While neither commercially or critically successful to begin with (the legendary Pauline Kael called it a “monumentally unimaginative movie”), it soon took off with audiences, in part thanks to its psychedelic closing sequence, and is now rightfully regarded as perhaps the greatest, and most prophetic science-fiction movie ever made.

To mark the occasion, below you’ll find five key bits of info that you may not have been previously aware of about Kubrick’s masterpiece. The film is currently available on DVD & Blu-Ray, and can be seen on Netflix: what better day than today to watch it?

1. The Film Was Originally Called “Journey Beyond The Stars” 
While it was based principally on author Arthur C. Clarke‘s short story “The Sentinel,” the book “2001: A Space Odyssey” was actually written by Clarke at the same time as he wrote the screenplay with Kubrick. The duo originally referred to it as “How The Solar System Was Won,” and it was initally announced under the name “Journey Beyond The Stars.” Clarke wrote in his behind-the-scenes book “The Lost Worlds Of 2001” that they also considered “Universe,” “Tunnel To The Stars” and “Planetfall” before landing on the eventual winner.

2. Kubrick Delivered The Film Sixteen Months Over Schedule, Having Nearly Doubled The Budget
Kubrick’s last film, “Eyes Wide Shut,” was a famously endless shoot, but this was not exactly something new. The famous perfectionist often went massively over budget and schedule, and particularly so on “2001: A Space Odyssey:” he went over the $6 million budget by $4.5 million (roughly equivalent to $25 million today), and arrived sixteen months late. Which should be a comfort to Andrew Stanton, if nothing else.
3. Seventeen Minutes Of Footage Cut At The Last Minute Was Recently Rediscovered
Given how much footage was shot (as much as two hundred times the length of the final cut), it’s unsurprising that enormous amounts were left on the cutting room floor, but it’s unlikely ever to surface: Kubrick always burnt his negatives after a film was finished. But the director did cut nineteen minutes after release, seventeen minutes of which were rediscovered in 2010 in a vault in a Kansas salt mine. It’s yet to see the public light of day, but surely something is planned soon.

4. Jack Kirby Wrote A Marvel Comic Based On The Move, That Spun Off Into A Superhero Series
Even aside from Peter Hyams‘ lesser 1984 sequel “2010: The Year We Make Contact,” the tale’s gone on to have life elsewhere. Clarke wrote two more novels, “2061: Odyssey Three” in 1987 and 1997’s “3001: The Final Odyssey” (Tom Hanks reportedly picked up the rights to the latter with the idea that he might direct it). Perhaps most curiously, a decade after the film was released, Marvel produced a ten-issue series by comics legend Jack Kirby that expanded on the film. The series saw the first appearance of Kirby’s robot superhero character “Machine Man,” who would later go on to become a stalwart part of the Marvel universe.
5. HAL 9000 Actor Douglas Rain Reprised His Role…In Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’
The film’s been much parodied over the years, by everyone from Mel Brooks to “The Simpsons,” but few went to the same lengths as Woody Allen. When he made his science-fiction comedy “Sleeper,” the writer-director-star wrote an evil computer into the climax of the film, and got none another than Canadian stage veteran Douglas Rain, who lent his voice to HAL 9000 in “2001,” to voice it in an uncredited cameo. Watch Woody Allen talk about his first impressions and growing to love Kubrick’s movie below.

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Pauline was the best critic in America while Gillian was a pretentious bore who also did hack work as a screenwriter (Sunday bloody sunday)

Christopher Sorensen

For the most part 2001 A Space Oddessy was visioned as cerebral to show the pinpointed stress in both Poole, and Bowman wile on board the Discovery. Stanley Kubrik who directed this film gave the audience something to think about by way of evolution towards a more glorified future laced with technology. Do we really need it? Why do we want to go into space? What lies out there? The unknown has always been the constant drive for scientists all over the world on the need to know. Bowman himself did not know about the power of the monolith nor did he want to. But for argument’s sake his curious nature drove him to the point of stepping into the unknown without a life boat, and that was his risk. Kubrik was a sheer genius into showing us the darker side of man when it comes to secrets. I think this movie is one of the most influential films of our time. The special effects done by Douglas Trumbull was awe inspiring with flight scenes to the space walks while doing repairs to the discovery’s communications array and on to the ultimate step into the next dimension. Whatever there is out in the cold void is perhaps just a warning. Are we prepared enough? Can we overcome obstacles like Bowman did, and becoming a prisoner of time? The monolith itself to me is kind of like a tool to use. A language barrier or a teaching tool to mar the inhabitants of earth. Or perhaps it’s an embassy of a sort to our distant future self. In any event 2001 is revered as the most detailed in scope, as well as interwoven with subtle messages from a hidden voice reaching to the inner depths of Bowman. Space is definitely a dangerous place to wander around in, but man who stood up on two feet first must take that final step. Stanley Kubrik has shown us how to move forward even if its in the face of certain death. I call this movie the greatest achievement of film making. Other than Close Ecounters Of The Third Kind, which Douglas Trumbull did the special effects as well.


Can't be too critical of Kael. As Sidney Pollack said in the documentary "Kubrick A Life in Pictures", all of Kubrick's films opened to mixed reviews; then 10 years later they're all classics. Woody Allen says in the same doco that it took him 3 viewings to realise 2001 was a masterpiece.

Larry Russo

Even the controls and displays in 2001 (on Discovery) were visionary. As flat screen monitors didn't yet exist, they used rear projection film to simulate futuristic computer displays (rather than using rounded tv tubes, insert fx shots or static graphic displays). For her to use the word "unimaginative" in describing this movie, Pauline Kael only proved herself shamefully useless.

walt milos

H.A.L was chosen as the name for the Computer because each letter was one letter away from I.B.M!


Does anyone know how Kubrick managed to secure basically complete creative freedom so early in his career? I know it wasn't unusual in the 70's but Kubrick had final cut all the way back in the early 60's, when Hollywood was still very much studio-driven. To deliver a film that late and that over-budget, especially a film as unconventional and experimental as 2001, would have been a death sentence to most careers. So how did Kubrick become so trusted?


Seventeen Minutes Of Footage – hope we get to see this someday.


The only major critic at the time who came out swinging for the film was Penelope Gilliatt, Pauline Kael's cotenant for many years at The New Yorker. Gilliatt, as always, was prescient whereas Kael wanted nothing to do with the film, couldn't understand it, and went behind Gilliatt's back to complain to others regarding Gilliatt's review. Thank the gods that Gilliatt was there, since Kael had an appetite only for junk and could not understand films of any complexity. Kael was the junk queen at the New Yorker, whereas Gilliatt got to the core of films' deepest meanings, something Kael couldn't have done if her life depended on it.


Well, Pauline Kael disliked a lot of generally acclaimed films. Polarizing is a better word for the critical reaction, and a good modern analogy would be, well… The Tree of Life.


Thanks for this. I had the film in my Netflix queue and had been planning to rewatch at some point so I now have a great excuse. I actually live 3 blocks from the Uptown here in DC and I supposed I could even head to the coffee shop across the street from there and at least recreate the geographic experience! LOL.

Nik Grape

Forget just the genre, this is one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time, period.

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