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If 2018 is your first time for ‘2001,’ IMAX is your best bet

August 24, 2018

In 2003, in the midst of a college bar-fueled haze, my then-roommate introduced me to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

 

While the imagery, subject matter, and run time (nearly three hours) made it a virtually impossible late night/early morning viewing experience, the film made enough of an impression on me to make it to the top of my “Must Watch Eventually” list, where it’s remained for 15, as the list is so expansive that films rarely make it off of there.

 

So imagine my excitement when I found out that to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary, it would be re-released for one week only in IMAX. That 1-week engagement kicks off on August 24 (with early screenings on August 23). A few select markets will have the option of 70mm IMAX (New York, LA, Toronto, San Francisco, Indianapolis).

 

And, after having finally taken it in in this format, I’m glad things shook out the way they did.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Sure, it doesn’t take the big screen and robust sound of IMAX (and overall atmosphere provided by a theater) to appreciate the great things about this film, but it definitely helps enhance those qualities.

 

The first thing that jumps out is the cinematography of Geoffrey Unsworth. A large number of his shots are breathtaking by modern standards, so I can’t imagine how they were perceived in 1968. Not only that, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that there are some shots that you’ve seen even if you’ve never seen the movie. They’re among the most iconic ever. The fact that not only did Unsworth not win an Oscar, but he wasn’t even nominated, is a crime.

 

The same could be said for the art direction of Anthony Masters, Harry Lange and Ernest Archer, who lost to team “Oliver!” and the sound department, which also lost to “Oliver!” after having not been nominated. Kubrick did win for Best Special Visual Effects, and most of them have held up surprisingly well for 50 years.

 

As I said, you can watch “2001” at home, and you’ll still be able to appreciate these technical achievements, but the IMAX experience (which I think can be really hit or miss) breathes new life into the film, while not taking away from the original experience.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

 

One of the coolest things about this is being able to think back on TV, film, and other videos that have drawn inspiration from “2001.” If you look you can see everything from “Alien” to “Passengers” to “Armageddon” to N’Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” video.

 

Its influence is basically everywhere at this point, and for good reason.

 

Since we’re dealing with a movie that’s 50 years old, I’m not going to dive too much into the story – futuristic scientists and their AI scour the universe in search of intelligent life. Just know that while (obviously) nothing’s changed, it generally plays pretty well. It’s always fun to look back on what previous generations thought the future would look and how close they were. Kubrick hit on quite a few, and things could get even more interesting as we get closer to our AI overlords taking over (only partially joking).

 

If you’ve never seen “2001” before, IMAX is the right format for you. If you’ve never seen it on the big screen before, IMAX is the right format for you. If you’ve seen it repeatedly on screens of varying sizes, IMAX is the next format you should experience it in.

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