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The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke , and was inspired by Clarke's short story " The Sentinel " and other short stories by Clarke. A novel released after the film's premiere was in part written concurrently with the screenplay. The film, which follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a featureless alien monolith affecting human evolution, deals with themes of existentialism , human evolution , technology, artificial intelligence , and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
The film is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery. Sound and dialogue are used sparingly and often in place of traditional cinematic and narrative techniques. The film received diverse critical responses, ranging from those who saw it as darkly apocalyptic to those who saw it as an optimistic reappraisal of the hopes of humanity. The film garnered a cult following, became the second highest-grossing film of in the United States and was nominated for four Academy Awards , with Kubrick winning for his direction of the visual effects.
In , it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In the prehistoric African veldt , a tribe of hominids are driven away from their water hole by a rival tribe. Later, they awaken to find a featureless alien monolith has appeared before them.
Seemingly influenced by the monolith, they discover how to use a bone as a weapon and return to drive their rivals away. Millions of years later, Dr. During a stopover at Space Station 5, he meets some Russian scientists who are concerned that Clavius seems to be incommunicado. Floyd is unable or unwilling to answer their questions. Continuing his journey to Clavius, Floyd addresses a meeting of personnel to whom he stresses the need for secrecy with respect to their newest discovery.
Floyd's mission is to investigate a recently found artefact buried four million years ago near the crater Tycho. Floyd and others ride in a Moonbus to the artefact, a monolith identical to the one encountered by the ape-men.
As they examine the monolith, it is struck by sunlight, upon which it emits a high-powered radio signal. On board are mission pilots and scientists Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole, along with three other scientists in suspended animation. Most of Discovery ' s operations are controlled by "Hal", a HAL computer with a human personality.
A conversation between Hal and Bowman is interrupted when Hal reports the imminent failure of an antenna control device. The astronauts retrieve it in an extravehicular activity EVA pod but find nothing wrong. Hal suggests reinstalling the device and letting it fail so the problem can be verified. Mission Control advises the astronauts that results from their own computer indicate that Hal is in error about the device's imminent failure; Hal attributes the discrepancy to human error.
Hal follows their conversation by lip reading. While Poole is on a space walk outside his pod attempting to replace the antenna unit, Hal takes control of the pod, severs Poole's oxygen hose, and sets him adrift. Bowman takes another pod to rescue Poole; while he is outside, Hal turns off the life support functions of the crewmen in suspended animation, thereby killing them. When Bowman returns to the ship with Poole's body, Hal refuses to let him in, stating that the astronauts' plan to deactivate him jeopardises the mission.
Bowman opens the ship's emergency airlock manually, enters the ship, and proceeds to Hal's processor core, where he begins disconnecting Hal's circuits. Hal tries to reassure Bowman, then pleads with him to stop, and then expresses fear. When the disconnection is complete, a prerecorded video message plays, revealing that the mission's objective is to investigate a radio signal sent from the lunar artefact, the monolith, to Jupiter. At Jupiter, Bowman finds a third monolith orbiting the planet.
Bowman is carried across vast distances of space, while viewing bizarre cosmological phenomena and strange landscapes of unusual colours. Eventually he finds himself in a large neoclassical bedroom where he sees, and then becomes, older versions of himself: first standing in the bedroom, middle-aged and still in his spacesuit, then dressed in leisure attire and eating dinner, and finally as an old man lying on a bed.
A monolith appears at the foot of the bed, and as Bowman reaches for it, he is transformed into a foetus enclosed in a transparent orb of light, which floats in space beside the Earth. After completing Dr. Strangelove , director Stanley Kubrick became fascinated by the possibility of extraterrestrial life ,  and resolved to make "the proverbial good science fiction movie".
According to his biographer John Baxter , despite their "clumsy model sequences, the films were often well-photographed in colour MGM had subcontracted the production of the film to Kubrick's production company in order to qualify for the Eady Levy , a UK tax on box-office receipts used at the time to fund the production of films in Britain. Kubrick's decision to avoid the fanciful portrayals of space found in standard popular science fiction films of the time led him to seek more realistic and accurate depictions of space travel.
Illustrators such as Chesley Bonestell , Roy Carnon, and Richard McKenna were hired to produce concept drawings, sketches, and paintings of the space technology seen in the film.
Kubrick also asked Universe co-director Colin Low about animation camerawork, with Low recommending British mathematician Brian Salt, with whom Low and Roman Kroitor had previously worked on the still-animation documentary City of Gold.
It was filmed in Cinerama and shown in the "Moon Dome". Searching for a collaborator in the science fiction community for the writing of the filmscript, Kubrick was advised by a mutual acquaintance, Columbia Pictures staffer Roger Caras , to talk to writer Arthur C. Clarke , who lived in Ceylon.
Although convinced that Clarke was "a recluse, a nut who lives in a tree", Kubrick allowed Caras to cable the film proposal to Clarke. Clarke's cabled response stated that he was "frightfully interested in working with [that] enfant terrible ", and added "what makes Kubrick think I'm a recluse? Kubrick told Clarke he wanted to make a film about "Man's relationship to the universe",  and was, in Clarke's words, "determined to create a work of art which would arouse the emotions of wonder, awe In search of more material to expand the film's plot, the two spent the rest of reading books on science and anthropology, screening science fiction films, and brainstorming ideas.
Expressing his high expectations for the thematic importance which he associated with the film, in April , eleven months after they began working on the project, Kubrick selected A Space Odyssey ; Clarke said the title was "entirely" Kubrick's idea.
Kubrick said, "It occurred to us that for the Greeks the vast stretches of the sea must have had the same sort of mystery and remoteness that space has for our generation.
Originally, Kubrick and Clarke had planned to develop a novel first, free of the constraints of film, and then write the screenplay. Clarke, based on a novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick" to reflect their preeminence in their respective fields. In a interview, Kubrick said:.
There are a number of differences between the book and the movie. The novel, for example, attempts to explain things much more explicitly than the film does, which is inevitable in a verbal medium. The novel came about after we did a page prose treatment of the film at the very outset.
Arthur took all the existing material, plus an impression of some of the rushes, and wrote the novel. As a result, there's a difference between the novel and the film I think that the divergences between the two works are interesting. In the end, Clarke and Kubrick wrote parts of the novel and screenplay simultaneously, with the film version being released before the book version was published.
Clarke opted for clearer explanations of the mysterious monolith and Star Gate in the novel; Kubrick made the film more cryptic by minimising dialogue and explanation. The screenplay credits were shared whereas the novel, released shortly after the film, was attributed to Clarke alone. Clarke wrote later that "the nearest approximation to the complicated truth" is that the screenplay should be credited to "Kubrick and Clarke" and the novel to "Clarke and Kubrick". But they felt it would be disloyal to accept Kubrick's offer.
Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece , the actual relation between Clarke and Kubrick was more complex, involving an extended interaction of Kubrick's multiple requests for Clarke to write new plot lines for various segments of the film, which Clarke was expected to withhold from publication until after the release of the film while receiving advances on his salary from Kubrick during film production.
Clarke agreed to this, though apparently he did make several requests for Kubrick to allow him to develop his new plot lines into separate publishable stories while film production continued, which Kubrick consistently denied on the basis of Clarke's contractual obligation to withhold publication until release of the film.
Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote in his book The Cosmic Connection that Clarke and Kubrick had asked him how to best depict extraterrestrial intelligence. While acknowledging Kubrick's desire to use actors to portray humanoid aliens for convenience's sake, Sagan argued that alien life forms were unlikely to bear any resemblance to terrestrial life, and that to do so would introduce "at least an element of falseness" to the film.
Sagan proposed that the film should simply suggest extraterrestrial super-intelligence, rather than depict it. He attended the premiere and was "pleased to see that I had been of some help.
It was unlikely that Sagan's advice had any direct influence. In a interview not released during Kubrick's lifetime , Kubrick explains one of the film's closing scenes, where Bowman is depicted in old age after his journey through the Star Gate:.
The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by godlike entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. We have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.
The script went through many stages. In early , when backing was secured for the film, Clarke and Kubrick still had no firm idea of what would happen to Bowman after the Star Gate sequence.
Initially all of Discovery ' s astronauts were to survive the journey; by October 3, Clarke and Kubrick had decided to make Bowman the sole survivor and have him regress to infancy. By October 17, Kubrick had come up with what Clarke called a "wild idea of slightly fag robots who create a Victorian environment to put our heroes at their ease. Early drafts included a prologue containing interviews with scientists about extraterrestrial life,  voice-over narration a feature in all of Kubrick's previous films , [a] a stronger emphasis on the prevailing Cold War balance of terror , and a different and more explicitly explained breakdown for HAL.
Kubrick made further changes to make the film more nonverbal, to communicate on a visual and visceral level rather than through conventional narrative. What dialogue remains is notable for its banality making the computer HAL seem to have more emotion than the humans when juxtaposed with the epic space scenes. In January , the production moved to the smaller MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood , where the live-action and special-effects filming was done, starting with the scenes involving Floyd on the Orion spaceplane;  it was described as a "huge throbbing nerve center A small elevated platform was built in a field near the studio so that the camera could shoot upward with the sky as background, avoiding cars and trucks passing by in the distance.
Filming of actors was completed in September ,  and from June until March Kubrick spent most of his time working on the special-effects shots in the film. Although this technique, known as "held takes", resulted in a much better image, it meant exposed film would be stored for long periods of time between shots, sometimes as long as a year.
For the opening sequence involving tribes of apes, professional mime Daniel Richter played the lead ape and choreographed the movements of the other man-apes, who were mostly portrayed by his mime troupe.
An earlier version of the film, which was edited before it was publicly screened, included a painting class on the lunar base that included Kubrick's daughters, additional scenes of life on the base, and Floyd buying a bush baby for his daughter from a department store via videophone. Kubrick's rationale for editing the film was to tighten the narrative. Reviews suggested the film suffered from its departure from traditional cinematic storytelling. The people who like it like it no matter what its length, and the same holds true for the people who hate it.
According to his brother-in-law, Jan Harlan , Kubrick was adamant that the trims were never to be seen and had the negatives, which he had kept in his garage, burned shortly before his death.
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The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke , and was inspired by Clarke's short story " The Sentinel " and other short stories by Clarke. A novel released after the film's premiere was in part written concurrently with the screenplay. The film, which follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a featureless alien monolith affecting human evolution, deals with themes of existentialism , human evolution , technology, artificial intelligence , and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The film is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery.
Clarke and the film directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is a part of Clarke's Space Odyssey series. Both the novel and the film are partially based on Clarke's short story " The Sentinel ", an entry in a BBC short story competition, and " Encounter in the Dawn ", published in in the magazine Amazing Stories. After deciding on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" as the starting point, and with the themes of man's relationship with the universe in mind, Clarke sold Kubrick five more of his stories to use as background materials for the film.