A monumentally unimaginative movie

Andrew Sarris, WBAI Radio, New York:
2001 is one of the grimmest films I have ever seen in my life.

At this point in his career, Kubrick has gone pretty much the way John Huston has gone. I think that Kubrick is someone who is too intelligent, too cynical, too pessimistic about man, or about men rather, and I think that as it turns out, 2001 is a disaster because it is much too abstract to make its abstract points.

Pauline Kael, Harper’s Magazine:
It’s fun to think about Kubrick really doing every dumb thing he wanted to do, building enormous science-fiction sets and equipment, never even bothering to figure out what he was going to do with them. In some ways it’s the biggest amateur movie of them all, complete even to the amateur-movie obligatory scene – the director’s little daughter (in curls) telling daddy what kind of present she wants. It’s a monumentally unimaginative movie.

Michelangelo Antonioni:
I don’t like 2001 completely. It’s very beautiful visually and technically as a film. But I don’t agree with Kubrick. I don’t understand exactly what he’s saying about technology. I think he’s confused.

Ray Bradbury:
Clarke, a voyager to the stars, is forced to carry the now inexplicably dull director Kubrick the albatross on his shoulders through an interminable journey of almost three hours.

The freezing touch of Antonioni, whose ghost haunts Kubrick, has turned everything here to ice.

I think it’s a gorgeous film. One of the most beautifully photographed pictures in the history of motion pictures. Unfortunately, there are no well-directed scenes, and the dialogue is banal to the point of extinction.

(Arthur C Clarke, subsequently:
He’ll come around. They all do. Ray also claimed I had been raped by Kubrick. I assure you, it was mutual.)

More equivocally:

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:
It was e.e. cummings, the poet, who said he’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach 10,000 stars how not to dance. I imagine cummings would not have enjoyed Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, in which stars dance but birds do not sing.

After the film was over, someone suggested that maybe MGM should require an IQ test before allowing people into the theater. I can understand that point of view. If people do not have the courtesy to shut up during a film, they should at least be segregated into special Saturday kiddie matinees, no matter how advanced their years.

All quotes seen in The Making Of Kubrick’s 2001 (1970)

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