In a very remote past, when apes are still feeding on plants, a huge black monolyth suddenly appears. The apes learn how to turn the bones of dead animals into tools and the monoliyth vanishes. Captain Floyd travels to the Moon. Inside a crater he finds a mysterious monolyth that is sending a strong signal to Jupiter. Some time later, on a trip to Jupiter, the powerful computer Hal 9000 on board the Discovery spaceship shows signs of malfunctioning. Astronaut Dave disables the computer and unveils the mystery of the monolyth. Having reached Jupiter, Dave finds an even bigger monolyth, approaches it and, during one of the most famous scene in the history of film-making, is accelerated into space and finds himself an old man inside a white room. Right before dying he sees the monolyth shrouded in light, then he is born again and sets off for the Earth as an infant.
Based on a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey stresses the archaetipal significance of travel even in its Homer-reminiscent title. There are different types of travels: time and space travels, discovery and knowledge travels, colonization travels. And, as is the case in this film, travels can be regarded as a paradigm of human evolution, with the huge monolyth marking different stages of knowledge. Each landing place is a victory of man over time, space and technology. But then technology takes over and the monolyth marks the very last stage before the dawn of a new era. All this does not unfold as a linear narration but, in the style that made Kubrick great, it is evoked through images so that “the movie’s "emotional content" directly reaches the unconscious”.
Featuring a beautiful mix of images and music, this film is righfully considered a masterpiece in the history of cinema.