American Icons: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

May 30, 2019
“2001: A Space Odyssey,” an American Icon.

“2001: A Space Odyssey,” an American Icon.

Credit:

Studio 360

A half century later, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is still shaping our future. With no help from CGI, the movie predicted private space travel, artificial intelligence and half of Apple’s product line. It showed the promise and perils of technology and explored life’s biggest mystery: Are we alone in the universe? In our two-part exploration of "2001" as part of our American Icons series, we look at the movie’s origins in 1960s New York and how it went from opening night bomb to counterculture icon. And we visit the same IBM research lab that helped inspire HAL and meet a real-life AI robot on the International Space Station. Our guides include effects wizard Doug Trumbull, actor Keir Dullea, superfan Tom Hanks, astronaut Garrett Reisman, New York Times critic Wesley Morris, director Christopher Nolan, artist James Turrell and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.

American Icons is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Stories in this episode