For many years now, we have used the Phenomena section of the Tofifest IFF to take a closer look at genres and trends that have a significant impact on the shape of cinema. The leading theme of this year’s edition of the festival is looking deep into the cosmos. The reason being that this year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the première of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which gave birth to a separate film genre that came to be called science fiction.
People have always dreamt about conquering space and filmmakers are doing their best to make that dream come true. It is an important test for their artistic imagination, as they can take advantage of the interstellar space to create new worlds, discover new planets, give life to new species, and use all that to tell amazing stories. Stanley Kubrick was one of such daredevils, who did not fear the topics or sceneries that others detested. It was precisely him to have elevated science fiction ― a genre previously associated with second-class cinema ― to the top league of artistic cinema. He proved that films about aliens and artificial intelligence could be refined in their form, rich in intellectual contexts, and just as existential as any of the films by Orson Welles or Ingmar Bergman, for that matter.
The 9th of April 1968 went down in history as the première of a masterpiece so powerful that many of renowned film critics at the time had no clue how to handle that. Nor had they any idea how to come to terms with the form of an open ending, ― which made it possible for anybody to come up with their own end to the story, and at the same time analyse it in many different ways. Today, in the era of computers, the significance of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, for which the director was nominated for Academy Awards, both for directing and screenplay (together with writer Arthur C. Clarke) and won an Oscar for visual effects (the only one the director ever received), cannot be overestimated.
Actually, Kubrick did not use any special effects in the film, which is sort of a paradox, as Star Wars ― a film packed with special effects would have never been made, nor films by Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott would ever have been the same, had it not been for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Actually, it was Ridley Scott himself, who said that the film by Stanley Kubrick was the death of science fiction, as no-one would ever make anything so perfect again. The latter paid tribute to the film by Kubrick in the legendary Alien. Further references to 2001: A Space Odyssey can be found in X-Files, The Simpsons, Toy Story, or Star Trek, to name a few. George Lucas was enraptured with the film to the level of calling it a milestone for world cinematography, comparable in significance to the Big Bang theory for cosmology.
Stanley Kubrick has gone down in history as a very original artist. He was not only a director of his own films, but also wrote scripts, edited, and produced them. Such of his works as Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or A Clockwork Orange have been included in the canon of classic films and shown in film schools as masterpieces to be used as a model, to this very day.