For you reading pleasure, a throwback review of sorts, of one of the most iconic sci-fi films of all time.  I’m speaking, of course, of 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

We got wasted at the apartment, then toked up again just around the corner from the theater. Admission had gone up to an insulting $3. Three dollars – outrageous! I protested in the straightest attitude I could muster to the woman behind the glass.

Big popcorn, big drinks, hallway back, center. So unprepared for the experience about to wash over us:

No dialog for the first 25 minutes of the movie. Just slow motion tool-making and guys in monkey suits. Then the Monolith. Then the ship in absolute silence to a – for all the choices out there – Strauss Waltz? Turned up to Ten. Insane.

Then the space port, the astronauts, HAL and his fascinating intelligence. By the time the psychedelic journey came, we were numb with exhaustion, just gob-smacked and then that whole light show and the utterly enigmatic bedroom, old man, fetus.


I just wanted to see it again. That and knowing that I’d seen something remarkable. A movie experience like no other – infused with the crushing mystery of outer space like no one had ever imagined before. Groping for ways to process so much new information and feeling it seared into my brain like a branding iron for the mind.

What a visionary was this Stanley Kubrick. Reputedly impossible to work with, prone to tantrums, insisting on changing everything as he went, throwing out the entire musical score and substituting old classics, re-writing the script so dramatically, the book’s author, Arthur C. Clarke, walked out of the screening in protest.

The overwhelm of Strauss’ Also Spracht, which would come to symbolize the film, even as it was thereafter inserted to one absurd TV commercial for breakfast cereal after another beer. The Monolith, that had no explanation except to deafen its discoverers and somehow point them to Jupiter. Dave hiding from HAL in the pod, then singing Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do, after he realizes only one of them will survive.

What a story, what an incredible experience, what an era-defining work of art in its ability to change our perception of the great unknown, so profoundly, so quizzically, astonishingly, permanently.

-James Mandell