Listen to our 2001: A Space Odyssey episode on:
OK, let’s address the elephant in the room. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey already has a sequel. 2010: The Year We Make Contact was released to mixed but generally warm reviews in 1984 and even went on to make a significant profit at the box office. However, despite the presence of future Oscar winner Helen Mirren in the cast, it’s not a sequel that’s especially lingered in the public consciousness. Frankly, we’d never heard of it.
Neither had this week’s special guests, Larry and Paul from BBC Radio Leeds. So when we realised we’d accidentally broken our only golden rule, we decided to do the only fair and honourable thing – we said “fuck it, we’re doing it anyway”.
Released in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely considered to be a landmark in filmmaking, frequently appearing on lists of the top movies every serious cinephile must watch before they die. Visually, its’ easy to see why. The imagery Kubrick employs is genuinely iconic – it’d be easier to draw up a list of the subsequent sci fi movies that haven’t in some way referenced it.
Narratively, the film is a bit more of a challenge. It doesn’t really have a traditional story arc, instead comprising three loosely connected acts and minimal dialogue with long stretches of silence and impressionistic images – from the opening scene featuring primitive hominids discovering a mysterious black monolith that appears to guide them to the next stage of evolution, to the trippy conclusion in which Doctor David Bowman (Keir Dullea) is pulled into a surreal vortex before being transformed as a blissed-out space foetus. Unsurprisingly, the movie was a big hit with acid enthusiasts on release.
Pitching a sequel to the movie means dealing with the relative lack of memorable or fleshed out characters – the only player to exhibit much in the way of personality is the sentient computer system HAL 9000. The official sequel, directed by Peter Hyams, took a more conventional approach, with an expanded human cast investigating whatever became of the Discovery One mission in the original film.
For our ideas this week, we decided to go a little bit more conceptual – from imagining an expanded cinematic universe built around the movie’s wide-ranging storytelling, to a direct crossover with one of the many franchises that owes a significant debt to Kubrick’s creative vision. Along the way we also discuss some of the most memorable scenes in the original film, the grand tradition of campy, passive-aggressive robots and debate the best and worst circumstances in which to experience the movie – hunched over a laptop screen on a train from Penrith to Leeds, or drifting in and out of consciousness while nursing the mother of all hangovers?
You can find our 2001: A Space Odyssey episode on all good podcasting platforms using the links at the top of this blog post. You can also access a host of exclusive bonus material by becoming a VIP supporter on Patreon, or check out some of our merch over on Teepublic.com.
Be sure to tune in to Larry and Paul’s lunchtime show on BBC Radio Leeds at 13.00 on Saturday 17th March, where we’ll be plugging the show while attempting to mask the deep-seated resentment we feel for our hosts for throwing such a gigantic spanner into our format this week. We’ll be back next week with a relatively rare guest-free episode, in which we’ll be pitching sequels to a time-travel action adventure from a director who would go on to graduate to a Galaxy far, far away…