German Film Museum celebrates 50 years of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Space Odyssey’

It’s part of the cinematic pantheon. A team of more than 100 people agonised for almost two years on the animations and special effects for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The result was a spectacular film, matched with a fittingly sky-high price tag, that has become a piece of cultural history. Now, 50 years after its premiere, a German museum is dedicating an exhibition to its creation and legacy.

Since its premiere on April 2, 1968, Kubrick’s work has shaped not just science-fiction films such as Star Wars, but also pop music, fashion and design.

The German Film Museum in Frankfurt has put together an exhibition, Kubrick’s 2001. 50 Years A Space Odyssey, which runs until Sept 23, documenting the film’s creation and cultural impact.

On display will be sketches and production documents, but also famous objects from the set, including a moonwatcher costume and spacesuits.

In his epic audiovisual journey to Jupiter – released one year before the moon landing – Kubrick presented a big-screen vision of humanity’s dream of space.

With his realistic spaceship Discovery, Kubrick took cinematic techniques to new levels by creating the effect of zero gravity. At the same time, he sketched a violent portrait of the human species.

The film was based on a short story by Arthur C Clarke. Almost as legendary as the film itself was its soundtrack. The sounds of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra are a ubiquitous presence in the exhibition. Many of the show’s objects come from the Stanley Kubrick Archive in London, with expert advice from Kubrick’s widow Christiane and his former producer Jan Harlan.

But what makes the film relevant today? “Nothing has changed,” said Kubrick’s daughter Katharina and Harlan in unison.

For them, outer space and the universe remain as mysterious as they were portrayed to be half a century ago. – dpa