Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey turns 50 this year. If you grew up watching those apes learn how to master tools and then encounter the jet-black monolith on battered VHS, that statement's going to send you back somewhat. Kubrick's masterpiece is one of the most revolutionary films ever made, and now we get to celebrate its half-century existence in grand style.
At this year's Cannes Film Fest, Chris "How It Was Intended to Be Seen" Nolan is premiering a newly-struck, 70mm "unrestored" print of the picture. What that means is that Warner Bros. has created new printing elements, made from the original camera negative as a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits. This is 2001 as close to how you would've witnessed it in a theater on opening day in '68. As Nolan himself says:
“One of my earliest memories of cinema is seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 70mm, at the Leicester Square Theatre in London with my father. The opportunity to be involved in recreating that experience for a new generation, and of introducing our new unrestored 70mm print of Kubrick’s masterpiece in all its analogue glory at the Cannes Film Festival is an honour and a privilege.”
If you're a print-head, this is an unmissable event. I've seen 2001 on old 70 and 35mm stock a few times - complete with an overture and intermission - and the experience is as close to seeing God on screen as one can get. The fact that the studio has gone to such lengths in order to pay homage to the movie and its creator is rather astonishing in this era of Netflix binge-watching and poorly color-timed DCPs. They're bringing the "event" back to theaters, when that method of exhibition is quickly dying.
But you don't have to buy an overly expensive ticket to France in order to see this 70mm spectacle, as the print will be touring select US theaters beginning May 18th. If you live somewhere without access to 70mm projectors, WB is also releasing a 4K iteration of the movie - overseen by Nolan himself - so that you can witness this re-release come Fall in the comfort of your own living room.
I just cannot wait to see 2001 on the big screen again; it's something everyone should do once if they truly love movies. Here's hoping you live near one of the theaters showing this new print, so that we can all share our experiences in the very near future.