2001 A Space Odyssey

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Wikipedia contains spoilers: Wikipedia is an online open content encycylopedia; as such, it does discuss plot points of movies and books which you may not wish to read if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book.

2001: A Space Odyssey is an immensely popular and influential science fiction film, directed by Stanley Kubrick based on a number of short stories by Arthur C. Clarke, most notably The Sentinel, with Arthur C. Clarke writing the book to be released at the same time as the film. According to the movie, a black monolith on Earth influenced the behaviour of a group of our ancestors three million years ago, pushing them on the path towards intelligence. It details a manned mission to Jupiter, where, unbeknownst to the human crew but known by Mission Control and the sentient on-board computer HAL 9000, a similar monolith has been located. On the way, after discussing apparent anomalies in the ship's mission with two of the crew members, HAL reports an unverifiable error in the ship's antenna control system. Two of the members discuss the possibility that HAL might be committing errors and thus would need to have his higher brain functions disabled. HAL discovers their plans, and begins to murder his human crewmates. Crewman David Bowman manages to outwit HAL, and continues the mission to investigate the artifact. The encounter with the artifact that follows is one of the most memorable conclusions to a film ever made.

While the film's estimate for our technical progress was, with the benefit of hindsight, optimistic (though in many cases through lack of funding rather than any technical reason), Kubrick's attention to technological accuracy was unprecedented for a science fiction film. Moreover, the film's profound themes about the nature of humanity, intelligence, and our place in the universe, still resonate powerfully today.

The film and Arthur C. Clarke novel of the same name share an interesting developmental history, with the book being written by Clarke based on some of the film's daily rushes, with feedback in both directions. The film was also noted for its use of music, particularly in the first future scene, which made Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" fanfare forever became associated with the immensity of space.

A film of the sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two, was made in the 1980's, but did not have nearly as much impact as the original, although Arthur C. Clarke went on to write 2060: Odyssey Three and 3001: the Final Odyssey