This year marks 55 years since the release of Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: a Space Odyssey where HAL a supercomputer takes control of a spacecraft from the humans it is meant to serve.
Today the promise and peril of AI, artificial intelligence, is very real and immediate in our lives. We take this opportunity to re-screen this classic movie at Garter Lane Arts Centre in Waterford accompanied by an expert panel that will discuss the movie’s original reception and impact and ask if we are on the cusp of surrendering control to computers.
This ground-breaking and iconic science-fiction film, originally released in 1968 and based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, is known for its stunning visuals, enigmatic narrative and its profound exploration of human evolution and the mysteries of the cosmos, it has captivated audiences for decades.
The film is divided into four parts, each depicting a different stage in human development. The story begins in Earth’s prehistoric past where a tribe of primitive hominids encounters a mysterious monolith, a black rectangular slab, which seems to influence the evolution of early humans and triggers the development of intelligence and tool use.
The story then shifts to the near future, where a mission to the moon uncovers a buried monolith. This discovery leads to a journey to Jupiter, where another monolith has been detected. The third section of the film follows astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole of the spaceship Discovery One on the mission to Jupiter, alongside the ship’s sentient AI computer, HAL 9000, which begins to exhibit increasingly erratic behaviour. The final part of the film takes place beyond Jupiter, where astronaut Dave Bowman embarks on a bizarre and psychedelic journey through time and space, encountering an even more enigmatic monolith and ultimately leading to a transcendent journey into a realm beyond human comprehension.
2001: A Space Odyssey is celebrated for its innovative special effects, particularly in depicting the weightlessness of space and realistic spacecraft. The film is known for its minimal dialogue and its reliance on visuals and music.
Kubrick’s film is renowned for its ambiguity, inviting viewers to interpret its meaning and symbolism and its abstract nature has made it a subject of discussion and analysis for decades. It has been regarded as a meditation on human evolution, the potential consequences of artificial intelligence and the search for extraterrestrial life. The movie’s minimal dialogue and emphasis on visual storytelling make it a unique and thought-provoking cinematic experience, challenging audiences to ponder the mysteries of the universe and the future of humanity. It is often considered one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history and a masterpiece of science-fiction, influencing numerous other films and leaving a lasting impact on the genre.