"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."HAL
2001: A Space Odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke
I was four years old when this movie came out. I saw it. No. I do not recall that I saw it, though my parents tell me I seemed to watch it just fine - notably, both my sister and I giggled at the beginning scenes with the apes. This said lest you think I had any hope at all of understanding this film at that time. Nope. It was clearly something more than pretty lights, but not, apparently, by a whole lot.
It's only in retrospect, after having read the book and seen the movie again several times that I recognize what an impact the film had. Science fiction to this point had been poorly budgeted, slightly slap-happy stuff. 2001: A Space Odyssey *looked* real. It kicked the bar for special effects straight out of the park. The next big special effects reboot came courtesy of Star Wars.
2001: A Space Odyssey was also a departure from the 1950's Bug-Eyed Monster stories (all thinly veiled cold war fears processing). Sure, some horrible, terrible things happen in this movie. HAL is a new kind of monster - a completely amoral one. He presages some of the plot twists of the Alien movies Allison mentioned yesterday. The astronauts trust HAL. They believe he is their ally, put in charge of the mission to protect and serve them, when in fact, HAL serves the *mission*. Important distinction. Ultimately, this is a story of what humankind might be capable of becoming. It's a question mark. Who are we as a species? Have we stopped evolving? If not, what does that next step look like?
It's a spooky, sometimes horrifying story filled with optimism about human potential and it set the stage for all kinds of science fiction goodness to come.