2001: A Space Odyssey, the pioneering 1968 science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time.

The screenplay, written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, was so advanced that a novel of the same name and written concurrently with the screenplay was published soon after the film was released.

The film, which follows a voyage to Jupiter delves deep into subjects such as human evolution, existentialism, technology and artificial intelligence and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The film synopsis reads:

“An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. When Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship’s computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly strange behaviour, leading up to a tense showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending trek through space and time.”

It is believed that following the completion of his 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick became borderline obsessed by the possibility of extraterrestrial life and, upon meeting Clarke, instantly penned the idea for a novel.

The making of the film suffered multiple setbacks and delays as Kubrick maxed out the budget on his obscenely ambitious project. He and Clarke went back and forth with radical re-writes, and the film was finally released on April 2, 1968, at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C, 2001: A Space Odyssey split opinion across the board.

However, addressing poor reviews, Kubrick described those critics as “dogmatically atheistic and materialistic and earthbound.” Arguably his work years ahead of its time, those mixed reviews will now all be converted to five stars. In 1991, the film was labelled “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Filling up ‘greatest films of all time’ lists across the globe, 50 years on and Kubrick’s sci-fi epic is still influencing modern cinema. Here, in some behind-the-scenes pictures, you can see how he did it:

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