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The best Stanley Kubrick movie has a fascinating origin you never knew

Every Stanley Kubrick movie is pretty special, but one in particular was spawned from huge ideas and went through a quite unique process during its inception.

Stanley Kubrick and the wormhole from 2001: A Space Odyssey

There has never been, and perhaps never will be, a better filmmaker than Stanley Kubrick. While some of his work might not be quite to everyone’s tastes, there can be no denying the impact on the landscape of cinema that Stanley Kubrick had, and continues to have. We have no hesitation in naming him at the top of our list of the best directors of all time, and for good reason.

When you look at a list of the best Stanley Kubrick movies, you will likely be astounded by the incredible range he seemed to possess in terms of exploring different genres. In this writer’s opinion, Kubrick completed the art of filmmaking, by essentially crafting some of the most influential and impeccable pictures of all time.

Kubrick made two of the best war movies of all time in Paths of Glory and Full Metal Jacket; one of the best comedy movies with Dr Strangelove; and one of the best horror movies ever in The Shining. But, it’s his work in bringing to life 2001: A Space Odyssey that is the crowing achievement of his career.

Without a doubt the best science fiction movie of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a mesmerizing, mind-blowing exploration of the universe and our place within it. And what’s even more impressive is, it was written and brought to the screen before man even set foot on the moon.

The project had a rather unique and very fascinating process from inception and through its journey to the big screen. Arthur C Clarke, the author of the novel the film is tied to, revealed all in the introduction to his book.

Apparently, Kubrick approached Clarke with the intention of crafting a story with an “even more ambitious theme” than his previous work. The filmmaker was keen to conjure up a project that would “give a heart-attack to any studio head,” figuratively speaking, of course.

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Joining forces with Clarke, Kubrick decided that writing a screenplay was far too “tedious” and suggested they “let [their] imaginations soar freely” with a novel version of the story first. Usually filmmakers would adapt pre-existing books, or a novelization would follow shortly after the movie. Kubrick didn’t exactly do things by the book, though (pardon the pun).

Essentially, as the journey developed, “novel and screenplay were being written simultaneously, with feedback in both directions.” Clarke admits he was even forced to rewrite parts of the book after seeing what Kubrick had come up with in rushes from the movie. When they took the idea to MGM, the story was only two thirds complete. Apparently, they had stopped at “the most exciting point”, mainly because both Kubrick and Clarke had no idea what to write next.

In the end, Kubrick was so busy working on the actual movie, that he was unable to find the time to read over the manuscripts Clarke sent him. For this reason, the novel, and the movie based on a book, differ largely in their final act. Clarke describes the process as a “complex and agonising gestation,” but we are inclined to say it was all worth it, as both pieces of work are astonishingly brilliant.

Sadly, we will never get to see any more of Kubrick’s work, but Ridley Scott is bringing one of the old master’s shelved projects to life this year with the Napoleon release date. As for Clarke, there is talk of Denis Villeneuve adapting one of his other novels, Rendezvous with Rama.

Will either of those films join Space Odyssey on our list of the best movies of all time? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the many Star Wars series (including the new Ahsoka) and new Star Wars movies, as well as the Star Trek series, with our thoughts on a potential Star Trek Legacy release date.