Friday, January 01, 2010

Bringing in 2010 with 2010! Future is Now!

2001: A Space Odyssey (occasionally referred to as simply 2001) is a 1968 science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. The film deals with thematic elements of human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life, and is notable for its scientific realism, pioneering special effects, ambiguous and often surreal imagery, sound in place of traditional narrative techniques, and minimal use of dialogue.

The film has a memorable soundtrack — the result of the association which Kubrick made between the rotary motion of the satellites and the dancers of waltzes, which led him to use the Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss II, and the famous symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss.

Despite receiving mixed reviews upon release, 2001: A Space Odyssey is today recognized by many critics and audiences as one of the greatest films ever made; the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of critics ranked it among the top ten films of all time. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, and received one for visual effects. In 1991, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in The National Film Registry.

Clarke went on to write three sequel novels. The only filmed sequel, 2010, was based on Clarke's 1982 novel and was released in 1984. Kubrick was not involved in the production of this film, which was directed by Peter Hyams in a straightforward style with more dialogue. The film was only a moderate success, disappointing many critics as well as viewers.

On New Yew Day 2010, let's analyze accuracy of predictions

The primary predictions that are central to the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey, made in 1968, those about space travel and artificial intelligence, did not materialize by that date (and still have not). However, many secondary futuristic elements of the story that are somewhat marginal to the plot have been accurate apprehensions of the future.


One futuristic device shown in the film already under development when the film was released in 1968 was voice-print identification, although the first prototype was not released until 1977. A credible prototype of a chess-playing computer already existed in 1968, even though it could be defeated by experts. Computers did not defeat champions until the late 1980s. While 10-digit phone numbers for long-distance national dialing originated in 1951, longer phone numbers for international dialing became a reality in 1970. Personal in-flight entertainment displays were first introduced in the 1980s strictly for the purpose of playing video games, but then broadened out for the purpose of TV broadcast and movies in a manner like that shown in the film. The film also shows flat-screen TV monitors, of which the first real-world prototype appeared in 1975. Plane cockpit integrated system displays, known as glass cockpits, were introduced in 1979. Rudimentary voice-controlled computing exists in the early 2000s, although it is still not as sophisticated as depicted in the film.

Some technologies portrayed as common in the film which have not materialized in the 2000s include commonplace space travel, space stations with hotels, moon colonization, suspended animation of humans, common (non-mobile) videophones, and strong artificial intelligence of the kind displayed by HAL.

Corporate and political realities
In terms of corporate realities, many more BBC stations existed in 2001 than did in 1968 as shown in the film, although there is no BBC 12. The corporations IBM, Aeroflot, Howard Johnsons, and Hilton Hotels, all of which appear in the film, have survived till 2001 and beyond. On the other hand, the film depicts a still-existing Pan Am and still-autonomous Bell System telephone company. Pan Am declared bankruptcy in 1991. The Bell System logo seen in the film was modified in 1969 and dropped entirely in 1983. Political realities are also quite different. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is alive and well in the film, but was dissolved in 1991.

Several elements have also become anachronistic in the years following the release of sequel 2010, the most obvious being the end of the Cold War and the fact that the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. Pan American World Airways went out of business in 1991. The Astrodome is mentioned in passing as if active; however, the Astrodome closed in 2004. The closing sequence of the film briefly depicts the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as seen from a small installation of fountains that was subsequently replaced by the National World War II Memorial.

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