Rupert Brooke wrote:
“… would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester!”
And we are. Grantchester Meadows to be exact, at the Movies on the Meadows cinema on a gorgeous Cambridge evening. As the audience stroll through the leafy village, down onto the lush meadows adorned with chequered blankets and families enjoying a picnic, there is anticipation in the air for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) to begin. And when the sky shows the colours only a Cambridgeshire sky can, the outdoor auditorium quietens, headphones are applied and we gaze up to the huge screen, watching the famous opening scene, whilst the River Granta tinkles around the meadows.
It’s 2001, and mankind has conquered space travel to a degree that is as simple as air travel today. On the moon, something buried for over four billion years is found, and the authorities want to find out what it’s all about. They launch a spaceship to Jupiter loaded with their best people, including Doctor Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Doctor Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) along with the smartest computer ever built: HAL 9000. Only when the spaceship is deep in space and almost everyone is in space hibernation does HAL begin to act unlike a computer.
Is this Kubrick’s greatest work as a script writer? No. Is this the most beautiful film of all time? There is a strong argument that it is. Comparing this to Nolan’s breath-taking INTERSTELLAR (2014), which won the Oscar for best achievement in visual effects and had us watching wide-eyed and open-mouthed, Kubrick’s film still looks better; and to think it was made almost half a century before boggles the mind at how he did it. The highlight of this film is Geoffrey Unsworth’s cinematography, but with all of Kubrick’s films it’s the tiny details that amaze you: the computer screens and lights resembling demonic faces; the use of unbroken video calling, which we all do now; voice activation password entry; and the meal containers displaying an image of the food on top, which the characters consume through a straw. Luckily, on the meadows we had three wonderful food vans, one fittingly called Planet of the Crepes.
Outdoor cinema is rarely offered in Britain due to the rainy weather, and we did have the odd shower, but on a perfect English summer’s evening as this, it makes the experience greater. Maybe we could have watched any old tosh, because viewing it in the dark, underneath the clouds, with hundreds of other people is something each person will cherish, and they’ll remember the time when they saw Kubrick’s masterpiece in “The lovely hamlet Grantchester.”