When Stanley Kubrick recruited Arthur C. Clarke to collaborate on "the proverbial intelligent science fiction film," it's a safe bet neither the maverick auteur nor the great science fiction writer knew they would virtually redefine the parameters of the cinema experience. A daring experiment in unconventional narrative inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel," 2001 is a visual tone poem (barely 40 minutes of dialogue in a 139-minute film) that charts a phenomenal history of human evolution. From the dawn-of-man discovery of crude but deadly tools in the film's opening sequence to the journey of the spaceship Discovery and metaphysical birth of the "star child" at film's end, Kubrick's vision is meticulous and precise. In keeping with the director's underlying theme of dehumanization by technology, the notorious, seemingly omniscient computer HAL 9000 has more warmth and personality than the human astronauts it supposedly is serving. (The director also leaves the meaning of the black, rectangular alien monoliths open for discussion.) This theme, in part, is what makes 2001 a film like no other, though dated now that its postmillennial space exploration has proven optimistic compared to reality. Still, the film is timelessly provocative in its pioneering exploration of inner- and outer-space consciousness. With spectacular, painstakingly authentic special effects that have stood the test of time, Kubrick's film is nothing less than a cinematic milestone--puzzling, provocative, and perfect. --Jeff Shannon
EDITOR'S NOTE: According to a Warner Home Video technician involved in the production of The Stanley Kubrick Collection, Kubrick authorized all aspects of the Collection, from the use of Digital Component Video (or "D-1") masters originally approved in 1989, to the use of minimalist screen menus, chapter stops, and (in the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining on DVD) supplementary materials. Full-screen presentation of The Shining and Full Metal Jacket was also approved by Kubrick, who recomposed his original framing, reportedly believing that those films looked best on video in the full-screen format. (In fact, the original theatrical aspect ratio of The Shining was 1.66:1, meaning that a relatively small portion of the image is lost.) Kubrick also chose mono over stereo, believing that inconsistencies in theatrical sound systems resulted in loss of control over theatrical presentation. In every respect, the Warner spokesman said, the films in the Collection remain as Kubrick approved them. Any future attempt to remaster or alter them would have to be approved by an appointee of the Kubrick estate.