Lesson 2 Research Activity
The Technology of Filmmaking

At the Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Even though we have passed its futuristic date and the international space station is much smaller than director Stanley Kubrick envisioned (and still not complete), 2001: A Space Odyssey remains an influential landmark in film history. We'll watch this important film and, in keeping with the spirit of this lesson, examine it as a catalog of compositional techniques.

Student Materials

Time Estimate

2 hours


Watch 2001 while thinking about the following questions. As you watch, jot down notes (hit the pause button and you won't miss anything) so you don't forget any of the important observations that you'd like to share with your classmates.


Please post your responses to the following questions on the class message board.

  1. John Lennon said at the time of its release that Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey should be shown continuously in temples built solely for that purpose. Was John Lennon crazy?
  2. This lesson is about movie composition, so for the time being, we are going to ignore the metaphysics of 2001. Make a list of the uncommon techniques you observed in this landmark film (by abernathy). How is the camera used differently from ordinary films? What is unusual about the lighting? The dialogue? The sets?
  3. Which shot in this film strikes you as most creative? Most revolutionary?