Keir Dullea, the actor who played astronaut David Bowman, the biggest human role in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, attended the showing in May at Cannes, where it screened 50 years after its release.EXPAND
Keir Dullea, the actor who played astronaut David Bowman, the biggest human role in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, attended the showing in May at Cannes, where it screened 50 years after its release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

An Unrestored Print of 2001: A Space Odyssey to Screen at Harkins Tempe Marketplace

More than 50 years ago, in April 1968, Stanley Kubrick's magnum opus was released in theaters to confound audiences everywhere. Now, theater-goers will get to experience 2001: A Space Odyssey in the same way as those very first crowds. Under director Christopher Nolan's supervision, Kubrick's film has been effectively unrestored, meaning an analog 70-millimeter print was made from 2001's original negative. The new print, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, opens at Harkins Tempe Marketplace on Friday, June 15 for a week-long engagement.

Before the unrestoration, the last version of 2001 was Warner Bros.' 1080p, HD Blu-Ray release from 2007. That copy is crystal clear, with sterile whites and cooler hues, and "corrected" images to fix the wear-and-tear associated with film. There are no digital bandages in the unrestored version. There was no interpretation in creating the new print, either — the preserved reels that have turned into the unrestoration were made according to Kubrick's notes.

There's a current cinematic obsession with high-definition images, but it's disingenuous to pass off a filmic relic as a pristine copy, unmarred due to digitization. In fact, digital cinematography barely existed in Kubrick's lifetime. Although not the first film to be shot with entirely digital cameras, George Lucas' Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, is often perceived as a landmark — and controversial — film of the early day of the digital revolution. Kubrick died in March 1999, three years before Attack of the Clones' release.

The images of any number of films — not just 2001 — have evolved since their original theatrical release. Animated Disney films often go through drastic changes, with even linework being sacrificed for a smooth, clear image. The obsession — or perceived obsession, rather — with high-definition, grainless images bastardizes the artist's original intent.

For a lot of viewers, this is just cinephilic noise. But, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the perfect film to open up this conversation to the public-at-large, especially as Kubrick's predecessors are still inspired by the masterwork. Nolan, for example, is a self-proclaimed Kubrick fan, but that's apparent by observing his work. Interstellar is Nolan's contemporary answer to 2001, with the action amped up to better suit the current cinematic climate. Both films are open-ended space epics where a somewhat passive lead character is flung through space and time. Both films use micro-drama — mainly the performances of Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman and Matthew McConaughey as Joseph Cooper — to imply cerebral, macro-existential implications about the nature of human life. It isn't a stretch to say Interstellar wouldn't exist in the same way if it weren't for Kubrick's film.

2001 continues to inspire, even in a multi-disciplinary sense. Experimental electronic music producer and film score composer Oneohtrix Point Never's (shortened as 0PN) latest album, Age Of, taps into 2001 in various ways. By combining contemporary, industrial noises with baroque sounds of harpsichords and other stringed-instruments, 0PN emulates the famous neoclassical images in the last act of the film. Just as Kubrick combined classical trappings in a forward-looking picture that depicts the future, so has 0PN.

MYRIAD, a conceptual live show that serves as a companion to Age Of, was deeply inspired by 2001. In an interview with Dazed, 0PN described his project as an inverted 2001 narrative, focusing more on the HAL-9000 horrors than the pre-evolution sapiens.

2001: A Space Odyssey continues to provoke ruminations on the nature of existence and the future of mankind. It still inspires challenging work, like 2014's Interstellar or 2018's Age Of.  Yet, in its 50 years of existence, nothing quite like it has ever been made again. The unrestored version allows for audiences to see the film with fresh eyes and without 50 years of changes.

2001: A Space Odyssey will screen on 70-millimeter film at Harkins Tempe Marketplace from Friday, June 15 through Thursday, June 21. Adult tickets range from $8 to $10.50. For showtimes and to purchase tickets, visit the Harkins website.

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