Arguably Kubrick's most influential film, it's also one that perfectly summarises his style and technique. What makes this different from his earlier or later works is that it's his most complex and detailed work, as well as being paradoxically the most familiar and incomprehensible.
Like all his films (adaptations) Kubrick chose nocels whose specific point was one only he could understand. He'd change things dramatically to suit his own story and his own ideas; think of 'The Shining' or 'Eyes Wide Shut'. This not only represents Kubrick's most obscure story to tell but also his single celebration of humanity as something positive, or at least suffering a less harsh outcome. There are many themes that will recurr within later projects: madness and isolation (The Shining); what it means to be human (Full Metal Jacket); the difference between reality and the imagined (Eyes Wide Shut); and how everything is presented in pristine, crisp visuals. But on its own '2001' stands out from Kubrick's unusual ouevre.
The film encompasses all of mankind from its creation to its destruction and all over again. We see how mankind is both all-conquering and knowing, yet something beyond our own control can destroy us in an instant. Such fragility is evident in the 'Star Child', the embryonic innocence gazing at its new world come the end. This is a film that covers a vast territory, the known and the unknown. People talk to their families and friends; new discoveries yeild otherworldly consequences. Like Ingmar Bergman's 'Persona' Kubrick has not just examined and deconstructed an art form, but art itself, and thus humanity's fascination with concepts, creativity and imagination. It taps into a netherworld indescribable, familiar, personal. Images and sounds collide and fuse into a symphony in bright stark light. From volatile and primitive beginnings to a serene and beautiful conclusion, '2001' is about life and what it actually is.
As ever, Kubrick never tells us what is and what isn't, but, like all his work, he gives us striking imagery to connect with an uncomfortably close part of the human aesthetic. There is some point in every Kubrick film where someone watching will realise just how clever, frighteningly so, he really is.
A film that has to be seen to be believed, the reason that cinema exists, t see and discover new things and to take the soul along with us.