|I appreciate that people younger than I might find it difficult to understand the remarkable
film breakthrough achieved by Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." To completely
"get it," you sort of "had to be there."
The context of the time influenced our sensibilities and perceptions: North Korea, Vietnam,
the Kerner Commission Report, Latinx demand for quality education, students protesting
Dow Chemical's production of napalm, Howard University demonstrations, Johnson's
announcement that he would not seek re-election, the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. and Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, war protests, the birth of Special Olympics, the
Democratic convention, Arthur Ashe's US Open victory, the debut of 60 Minutes, Mexico
City protesters killed by police and troops, Apollo 7, raised gloved fists at the olympics,
Nixon's presidential victory, Shirley Chisholm's election to the House, and Apollo 8.
The relative infancy of technology and space travel provided a context, too. In 1968, there
were no personal computers or Internet and we had not been to the moon, which made the
movie far ahead of its time.
Then, there's the issue of special effects in cinema in the 1960s. We had seen nothing like
this before. Even to today's audiences, the special effects - linked to classical music - hold
Arthur Clarke's story, tracing evolution from apes to a human on Jupiter, stimulated our
thinking while transporting us to the future's possibilities.