Flipping channels this afternoon, we discovered that 2001: A Space Odyssey was playing on Turner Classic Movies. One of the things that occurred to me when we watched the film was how difficult it really is to determine what the future will be like. The future depicted in the movie was accurate about the following innovations, all available in 2001 (via Wikipedia):
- Flat-screen computer monitors
- Small, portable flat-screen televisions (we actually watched the film on a small flat-screen, although it’s not portable)
- Television screens with wide aspect ratio
- Glass cockpits in spacecraft
- The proliferation of television stations
- Telephone numbers (in the 1960’s, phone numbers had fewer digits; the film depicts 2001 phone numbers as having more digits)
- Corporations such as IBM, Hilton, and Aeroflot still in existence (this one would be particularly tough to predict, I think)
- Credit cards with data stripes
- Biometric identification (I even had to use handprint ID to get in the dining hall at UGA when I was a student there)
- The shape of the Orion III Pan Am Orbital Clipper was echoed in X-34, a prototype craft (though that may have been an intentional nod to the movie)
Other aspects of life in 2001 proved harder to predict. By 2001, we really didn’t have the following:
- Proliferation of good-quality, high-resolution videophones
- Commonplace space travel (do you ever wonder if the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger was responsible for that, to some degree?)
- Moon colonies
- Manned missions to Jupiter aren’t feasible (one could argue a mission to Mars is feasible, but not likely to happen for some time)
- Orbiting hotels (à la The Jetsons?)
- Routine commercial space flight
- Technology to put humans in long-term suspended animation
- Sentient computers that exhibit self-motivation and indepedent judgment
- Computers with error-free performance records
- Pam Am Airlines (in any form), the Bell System, and Howard Johnson’s (as of January, there are only three HoJo’s left) restaurants are no longer with us
- The Soviet Union
In my opinion, however, the film is still ground-breaking. Not many filmmakers today have the nerve to do some of the things Stanley Kubrick did — the open ending, the use of quiet and sound (who can forget the segments when the only sound is Dave’s breathing).
My dad had the soundtrack to 2001 on vinyl. When I was a teenager, I put in on the stereo and listened. I remember tears streaming down my face as I listened to the Gayane Adagio from Khatchaturian. At the time, I thought it was the saddest music I had ever heard, and I believe it still is.
The scene in which Dave has to shut down HAL is one of the most moving scenes in science fiction cinema. I can’t find a video of the whole scene, but here is the end:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/WliFIfXNTEY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
I wish it had the part when HAL tells Dave he is afraid. It’s chilling.
What do you think this movie means?
[tags]Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2001, HAL 9000, YouTube[/tags]