2001: a Space Odyssey is, in my opinion, the greatest science fiction movie ever made. Since I'm so SF-oriented, that made it my favorite movie of any kind for many years.

I didn't hold the same high opinion of 2001 when I saw it during its first release, when I was about 13. I then concluded it was the dumbest thing I had ever seen. But it wasn't too dumb to attract me again, and again, and often again during its subsequent re-releases. As I eventually figured out what I was seeing (with the help of Clarke's novel), I appreciated the movie more and more. This film respects the intelligence of its viewers. Maybe a schlocky movie like The 5th Element can hinge its climactic moment on some stereotyped action hero being able to tell a woman he loves her, but 2001 is about bigger things. It's one of the few movies that depicts the rest of the universe as something truly foreign and mysterious, not as a mere extension of our own world, with familiar characters, politics, and even current cultural references.

2001 shows what may be the bravest single act ever depicted in film. Consider the situation of Dave Bowman. He's marooned in a crippled ship 500 million miles from home. His colleagues are dead. The ship's computer is incapacitated. Contact with Earth is all but cut off. He is the most isolated man of all time.

Floating nearby is the Monolith, a completely enigmatic manifestation of alien powers beyond human comprehension.

What does Dave do? He gets into a tiny pod, leaves his ship, and goes out to face the unknown.

Way to go, Dave.

My friends and I celebrated the true dawning of the new millennium on January 1, 2001, with a viewing of Kubrick's great film.

An old painting of mine showing Discovery and the monolith in the vicinity of Callisto.


Get a 1680x1050 version of the HAL eye background image here.

Read why people who think the year 2000 was the first year of the current century are dumb (insulting).

View a well-done Flash presentation on the meaning and interpretation of 2001.

Words and images copyright by Joe Bergeron.