Near the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a big black monolith appears in an African desert, leaving a group of prehistoric ape-men standing there baffled. And that was pretty much the reaction that greeted the film itself when it premiered 50 years ago this week.
Nobody was quite sure what to make of it. The critics were harsh, with Variety dismissively saying flatly, "2001 is not a cinematic landmark." It's hard to imagine being more wrong.