Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), based on Arthur C. Clarke's novel, is one of the most ambitious films ever made, an epic of space exploration that takes in the whole history of humanity (as well as speculation about its future). A technical triumph that stands up today, 2001 is topical also because of its meditation on the relationship between man, animal, and machine. Haunting and enigmatic, it's a film that contains myriad images that seem to defy explanation. In this multilayered study, acclaimed critic and theorist of film sound Michel Chion offers some keys to understanding 2001.Setting the film first in its historical and cultural contexts (the Space Race, the Cold War, 60s psychedelia), Chion goes on to locate it within Kubrick's career. He then conducts a meticulous and subtle analysis of its structure and style, arguing that "2001" is an 'absolute film', a unique assemblage of cinema's elements, through which pulses a vision of human existence. 'Animals who know they will die, beings lost on earth, forever caught between two species, not animal enough, not cerebral enough'.
In a supplementary chapter, Chion argues that Kubrick's last film, "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), is a return to 2001, a final statement of its concerns. And in a series of appendices Chion provides production details, an analytic synopsis, credits and a consideration of the legacy of 2001.