The Movie That Inspired 2001

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Before beginning work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick allegedly watched virtually every space movie ever made. One of these was a half-hour documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 1960. Universe, directed by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low, was a highly-respected film, having received an Academy Award nomination in 1961 for Best Documentary Short Subject. Perhaps of all the films Kubrick screened, no other had so much influence on his science fiction epic.

Exquisite photography, evocative writing, haunting music and first-rate special effects are all worthy of Kubrick at his best. And there has always been speculation that Universe may have been the inspiration that sparked Kubrick to want to do a space movie.


Many of the influences and resemblances have been pointed out before—-just check out the sequence starting at 5:50—-for instance. Additionally, Kubrick hired Universe co-director Low to work on 2001 (though he had to decline) as well as Wally Gentleman, who had created the amazing special effects of Universe. Gentleman went on to design some of 2001's most iconic scenes. But one small detail has usually been overlooked, a small detail that inextricably ties the two films together. The narrator of Universe is Douglas Rain...who also provided the voice for HAL 9000.

See the full film here.