“2001: A Space Odyssey,” starring Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, begins at the dawn of civilization, where a herd of apes, after being in the presence of a mysterious black monolith, experience a sudden advancement in their thinking and reasoning abilities, and soon dominate their surroundings. The story then moves to the year 2001, where scientists, working at a space station on the Moon, have uncovered another black monolith that when exposed to the Sun, gives off an ear shattering signal. Eighteen months later, a crew of five scientists are sent to the planet Jupiter, unaware of the true nature of their mission, accompanied by the film’s most celebrated character, a computer called HAL 9000. Hal’s ability to speak makes him seem like the crew’s sixth member, and so it becomes quite unsettling when it’s determined that Hal is either malfunctioning or has his/it’s own devious agenda.
Despite four Academy Award nominations, including a win for Best Visual Effects, “2001: A Space Odyssey” received mixed reviews upon it’s initial release. Eventually, much of the public came to appreciate the unique qualities of the film, and it’s willingness to address many philosophical questions, such as evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. In 1998, the American Film Institute’s “100 Years, 100 Movies” listed “2001: A Space Odyssey” as the 22nd all time film, while in 2003, HAL 9000 was named the 13th greatest screen villain. One of the film’s greatest attributes is that it doesn’t appear dated, more than forty years after it was made and nine years after the film’s setting of 2001.