Stanley Kubrick initially approached Arthur C Clarke by saying that he wanted to make "the proverbial good science-fiction movie". Clarke suggested that "The Sentinel", a short story he wrote in 1948, would provide a suitable premise. Clarke had written the story for a BBC competition, but it didn't even make the shortlist.
|2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
"The Sentinel" corresponds only to the relatively short part of the movie that takes place on the moon.
The screenplay was written primarily by Kubrick and the novel primarily by Clarke, each working simultaneously and also providing feedback to the other. As the story went through many revisions, changes in the novel were taken over into the screenplay and vice versa. It was also unclear whether film or novel would be released first; in the end it was the film. Kubrick was to have been credited as second author of the novel, but in the end was not. It is believed that Kubrick deliberately withheld his approval of the novel as to not hurt the release of the film.
Kubrick was very well read. It is rumored that the image of the star-child came to him from the "Spirit of the Earth" in Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound": "Within the orb itself, Pillowed upon its alabaster arms, Like to a child o'erwearied with sweet toil, On its own folded wings and wavy hair The Spirit of the Earth is laid asleep..."
An early draft of the script had narration.
Kubrick planned to have Alex North (who wrote the score for Kubrick's Spartacus (1960)) write a musical score especially for the film. During filming, Kubrick played classical music on the set to create the right mood. Delighted with the effect, he decided to use classical music in the finished product. North's score has subsequently been released as "Alex North's 2001" (Varese/Sarabande 5400).
Incrementing each letter of "HAL" gives you "IBM". Arthur C Clarke claimed this was unintentional, and if he had noticed it before it was too late, he would have changed it.
Originally the voice for HAL was to be done by the British actor Nigel Davenport.
HAL's voice was also originally going to be performed by Martin Balsam, but Kubrick decided that he sounded too emotional. Douglas Rain got the role, and never visited the set.
Originally, the Discovery was to have traveled to Saturn, but the special effects crew couldn't make a convincing-looking Saturn.
Kubrick had several tons of sand imported, washed, and painted for the moon surface scenes.
The subsequent novel and the screenplay both give HAL's birthday as January 12, 1997, but the date given on screen is January 12, 1992.
The chess position and moves that we see are from a game played in 1913 in Hamburg between two undistinguished players named Roesch and Schlage.
HAL sings "Daisy" as he is shut down; this was the first song ever played by a non-mechanical computer. The lyrics include the phrase "I'm half crazy".
According to Douglas Trumbull, the total footage shot was some 200 times the final length of the film.
Clarke once said: "If you understand 2001 completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered."
At the end of the film, the only spacesuit that was never used is the blue one. In 2010 (1984), the blue suit is missing its helmet, apparently because the producers thought that Dave used it in 2001: A Space Odyssey when disabling HAL. Dave is actually wearing a green helmet, from the green suit which was stowed inside the emergency airlock.
According to Isaac Asimov, Stanley Kubrick wanted to get an insurance policy from Lloyd's of London to protect himself against losses in the event that extraterrestrial intelligence were discovered before the movie was released. Lloyd's wouldn't insure him.
The song "Echoes" from the album "Meddle" by Pink Floyd can be perfectly synchronized to the "Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite" sequence. The song runs the precise length of the sequence and was deliberately timed and arranged to follow the events occurring in this portion of the film.
Among the model-makers was David Peterson, later Wales' foremost sculptor and a prominent nationalist activist.
Frank Miller, who plays the mission control voice, was a member of the United States Air Force in real life, and was a real mission controller. He was hired because his voice was the most authentic the producers could find for the role.
By the year 2001, some of the product placements had become outdated. RCA Whirlpool, the maker of the zero gravity food preparation unit on the moon shuttle, had become Whirlpool. The Bell System had been divested and the long distance service became AT&T. Pan Am had ceased operations as an international air carrier.
Some of the images in the Star Gate sequence are actually unused aerial footage from Dr. Strangelove (1964).