Whenever Christopher Nolan is asked about his cinematic influences, he never forgets to mention the magical impact that 2001: A Space Odyssey had on his own creative vision. Arguably the greatest science fiction film ever created, this masterful experiment by Stanley Kubrick showed Nolan the true potential of the cinematic medium when he was only seven years old.
That is exactly why it is high praise of Nolan when he compares 2001 to any other film. The director has also acknowledged the influence of other sci-fi films like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner on his own works — but Nolan has always maintained that 2001 was the film that provided him with “this extraordinary experience of being taken to another world”.
Later, after he embarked on his own directorial career, Nolan ventured into the sci-fi genre himself and his investigations are very similar to the questions Kubrick often asked. While there is much to be said about the difference in the executions of their respective artistic visions, the congruencies are evident in projects like Interstellar.
It is strange to draw a comparison between 2001 and other films because it exists in a league of its own, so unlike most other projects from that time or the ones that have followed. However, Nolan feels that there is one particular “relationship movie” which is just as ambitious in its scope as Kubrick’s 1968 epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Interestingly enough, this so-called relationship film was also directed by Kubrick and caught the attention of Nolan. It was the final project that Kubrick ever embarked upon, passing away before the production process could be wrapped up. When Nolan saw it for the first time, he admitted that he didn’t like it and even noticed some technical flaws in the latter half of the film which he claimed would have been removed if Kubrick had been around.
Now, Eyes Wide Shut is one of Nolan’s favourite films ever made. A disturbing take on the Christmas genre which reveals the corrupt distortion of the spirit of Christmas due to hyper-capitalist excesses, Eyes Wide Shut was dismissed at the time of its release but it is currently estimated to be one of Kubrick’s greatest projects thanks to critical re-evaluations.
“Watching it with fresh eyes, it plays very differently to a middle-age man than it did to a young man,” Nolan explained. “There’s a very real sense in which it is the 2001 of relationship movies.” Despite the editing and production mistakes he noticed in his subsequent viewings of the film, Nolan called it “an extraordinary achievement.”