2001: A Space Odyssey, so its fans will tell you, is awesome, amazing, astonishing, astounding — and that doesn’t even exhaust their list of “A” adjectives. But however emphatically they’re spoken, those words don’t tell you much. I fear they sometimes even put off potential 2001-lovers — or at least those who would enjoy a screening or three — who fear themselves unequal to the imposing labor of appreciation ahead. You’ll learn more meaningful things about Kubrick’s film in 2001: The Making of a Myth (made in 2001), a 45-minute documentary on its conception, its production, and its undiminished resonance in our cultural imagination.
Introduced by filmmaker James Cameron — he of The Terminator, Avatar, and Aliens, science-fiction spectacles of an entirely different nature — the program brings in a host of the original contributors to 2001’s look, feel, and psychological and technological verisimilitude. We hear from those involved in the photography, design, editing, and even technical consultancy. Actor Keir Dullea, still best known for his role as astronaut Dave Bowman, has much to say about working with his co-star HAL, and even the fellows in the ape suits offer insights into their non-verbal craft. Critical minds such as Elvis Mitchell and Camille Paglia weigh in on the picture’s simultaneous visceral and intellectual impact, but Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote 2001 the book while Kubrick shot 2001 the film, puts it most sharply when describing the intent of his director counterpart: “He wanted to make the proverbial good science-fiction movie.” Mission accomplished.