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Theatrical movie poster
Directed by Peter Hyams
Produced by Peter Hyams
Written by Peter Hyams, based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke
Starring Roy Scheider
John Lithgow
Helen Mirren
Bob Balaban
Keir Dullea
Douglas Rain
Music by David Shire
Cinematography Peter Hyams
Editing by Mia Goldman
James Mitchell
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) December 7, 1984
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Preceded by 2001: A Space Odyssey

2010 is a 1984 science fiction film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Peter Hyams. Its full title is given on posters and DVD releases as 2010: The Year We Make Contact, although the subtitle does not appear in the film itself. 2010 is a sequel to the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and is based on Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2010: Odyssey Two, a literary sequel to the film.



The film is set nine years after the mysterious failure of the 800 foot exploration spacecraft USSC Discovery One's mission to Jupiter (depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey) in which four astronauts died and another disappeared mysteriously into a large, alien Monolith orbiting Jupiter. Dr. Heywood Floyd - who had been the Director of the "National Council on Astronautics" (NCA) during the Discovery mission - has been made the scapegoat, and has since left the NCA to become a university chancellor.

Friction is growing between the United States and the Soviet Union, and both nations are preparing missions to determine what happened to Discovery One. But although the Soviet Alexei Leonov will be ready before the new American spaceship, the Soviets need American astronauts to help investigate the problems with the HAL 9000 on-board supercomputer system, and to ease the diplomatic problems associated with boarding an American spacecraft. The US government reluctantly agrees to a joint mission, since Discovery's orbit destines it to crash into the Jovian moon Io within a few years.

Floyd, who feels responsible for the failed mission, volunteers for the mission himself and recruits two experts on Discovery: Dr. Walter Curnow, one of its designers and builders, and Dr. Chandra, who created the HAL 9000 series of artificial intelligence supercomputers.

The aim of the joint mission is threefold: to find the reason for the mission's failure, to investigate the Monolith in orbit around Jupiter, and to explain David Bowman's disappearance. They suspect that much of this information is locked away in the abandoned Discovery One spaceship and her on-board HAL 9000 computer.

Upon the Leonov's arrival in the Jovian system, Dr. Floyd is awakened early from his hibernation by the Soviet crew because they have detected the chemical signatures of life on the moon Europa. An unmanned probe detects something suggestive of life, but is inexplicably destroyed in a burst of electromagnetic radiation before close-up photos can be taken. Dr. Floyd suspects that it is a warning from someone — or something — to keep away from Europa.

The Discovery One is found abandoned but undamaged, orbiting Jupiter close to the moon Io. After space walking over to it, Curnow reactivates its on-board systems, and Chandra restarts the HAL 9000 computer ("HAL"), which had been deactivated before the Monolith had been found. The Monolith is then rediscovered in the Lagrange point between Jupiter and Io. Cosmonaut Max Brailovsky travels to it in an EVA pod, but is killed by a burst of power that emerges from the Monolith and heads into outer space towards the Earth.

A series of scenes follow in which Dave Bowman, who has been transformed into an incorporeal being, travels to the Earth. He appears on his widow's TV screen and says his final goodbyes and visits his terminally-ill and senile mother in a nursing home, combing her hair, much to her delight, as he had done during his boyhood. She is found dead in her bed shortly afterwards.

Chandra discovers the reason for HAL's malfunction: he had become paranoid after his NSC controllers ordered him to conceal from Bowman and Poole the knowledge that the Discovery mission was about the Monolith mystery. This had conflicted with HAL's basic function: the accurate processing and distribution of information without concealment or distortion. Dr. Floyd is disgusted and denies any knowledge of the secret directive.

Meanwhile, the tensions between the United States and Soviet Union have escalated to what is "technically a state of war". The U.S. government orders Floyd, Curnow and Chandra to leave the Russian spacecraft and move into the Discovery One. On board, Dave Bowman appears to Floyd, warning him that they must leave Jupiter within two days because "something wonderful" will happen. The Monolith suddenly disappears, and a growing black spot appears on the Jovian surface. Telescopic observations reveal that the spot is in fact a vast population of Monoliths, increasing in number at an exponential rate, shrinking Jupiter's volume, increasing its density, and modifying the chemical properties of its atmosphere. Since neither ship can reach the Earth with an early departure, the two crews work together to use Discovery as a booster rocket for the Leonov. Tension arises when HAL is not told that the Discovery will be left stranded in space, and probably destroyed; Chandra fears that another deception may cause a repeat of HAL's malfunctions. During the countdown Dr. Chandra tells HAL the whole truth, and much to everyone's collective relief, the computer understands that it must sacrifice itself for the human beings on board the Leonov.

The Leonov leaves Jupiter just in time to witness the swarm of Monoliths engulf Jupiter and increase its density to the point that nuclear fusion occurs, transforming Jupiter into a small star. A wave of hot plasma erupts from the forming star, incinerating the Discovery, but failing to destroy the Leonov.

As the Leonov exits its Jovian orbit, HAL is commanded by the mysterious extraterrestrial intelligences to repeatedly broadcast this message toward the Earth:


Over a montage of images of two Suns in the sky of Earth, Floyd, in voice-over, explains that this miraculous occurrence inspired the American and Soviet leaders to end their stance of war. The film ends with a montage that depicts Europa gradually transforming over millennia from an icy wasteland to a humid jungle covered with plant life and with primordial sounds emanating from the trees. In the final shot, the camera pans across the jungle, eventually settling upon a lagoon where a lone Monolith is standing upright, waiting for intelligent life forms to evolve.




Arthur C. Clarke appears as a man on a park bench outside the White House (which is out-of-frame in the pan-and-scan version, but visible in the letter-boxed version). In addition, a Time magazine cover about the American-Soviet tensions is briefly shown, in which the President of the United States is portrayed by Clarke and the Soviet Premier by the 2001 producer, writer, and director, Stanley Kubrick.



When Clarke published his novel 2010: Odyssey Two in 1982, he telephoned Stanley Kubrick, and jokingly said, "Your job is to stop anybody [from] making it [into a movie] so I won't be bothered."[1] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) subsequently worked out a contract to make a film adaptation, but Kubrick had no interest in directing it. However, Peter Hyams was interested and contacted both Clarke and Kubrick for their blessings:

"I had a long conversation with Stanley and told him what was going on. If it met with his approval, I would do the film; and if it didn't, I wouldn't. I certainly would not have thought of doing the film if I had not gotten the blessing of Kubrick. He's one of my idols; simply one of the greatest talents that's ever walked the Earth. He more or less said, 'Sure. Go do it. I don't care.' And another time he said, 'Don't be afraid. Just go do your own movie.'"[1]

Clarke's e-mail correspondence with Peter Hyams, the director of 2010, was published in 1984.[2][3] Titled The Odyssey File: The Making of 2010, this book illustrates Dr. Clarke's fascination with the then-pioneering medium of e-mail and his use of it to communicate with Hyams on an almost-daily basis during the planning and production of the film. (Clarke was living in Sri Lanka while the production was taking place in California.) This book also includes Clarke's list of the top science fiction films ever made. Unfortunately, in order to give the publishers enough lead-time to have it available for the release of the movie, the book terminates while the movie is still in pre-production. At the point of the last e-mail, Clarke had not yet read the script, and Roy Scheider was the only actor who had been cast.

Special effects

The special effects for 2010 were produced by the Entertainment Effects Group (EEG), the special effects house created by Douglas Trumbull. However, Trumbull himself did not work on the film, and the effects were supervised by Richard Edlund, who had just left Industrial Light and Magic. After completing 2010, EEG would become a part of Edlund's own effects company Boss Film Corporation.

Early in the production of 2010, Hyams found out that the original 50-foot model of the "Discovery One" that had been built for 2001 had also been destroyed following the filming, as had all of the model-makers' plans for building it. The model makers at EEG had to use frame-by-frame enlargements from a 70 mm copy of the original film to recreate the "Discovery One".

Although Computer-generated imagery (or CGI) was still in its infancy in 1984, the special effects team of 2010 used CGI to create the dynamic looking cloudy atmosphere of the planet Jupiter, as well as the swarm of monoliths that engulf the planet and turn it into a Sun for the planet Europa. Models were used for the spaceships, but that same year the movie The Last Starfighter became the first to use CGI to create all of its spaceships.

In order to maintain the realism of the lighting in outer space, in which light would usually come from a single light source (in this case, the Sun), Edlund and Hyams decided that blue-screen photography would not be used for shooting the space scenes. Instead, a process known as front-light/back-light filming was used. The models were filmed as they would appear in space, then a white background was placed behind the model. This isolated the model's outlines so that proper traveling mattes could be made. All of this processing doubled the amount of time that it took to film these sequences, due to the first motion-control pass that was needed to generate the matte. This process also eliminated the problem of "blue spill", which is the main disadvantage of blue-screen photography. In this, photographed models would often have blue outlines surrounding them because a crisp matte was not always possible to make.

Blue-screen photography was used in the scene in which Floyd demonstrates his plan to use the two spaceships to achieve the change in momentum needed to leave Jovian orbit before the opening of the launch window. In this scene, Floyd uses two pens to demonstrate his plans. Roy Scheider performed this scene without the pens actually being present, and the pens were filmed separately against a blue screen - using an "Oxberry" animation stand that was programmed to match Scheider's movements. (The initial sequence of Floyd's making the pens float was carried out by simply attaching them to a polished piece of oscillating glass that was placed between him and the camera.)


Several elements have become anachronistic in the years following the film's release, the most obvious being the end of the Cold War and the fact that the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. Pan American World Airways went out of business in 1991. The Astrodome is mentioned in passing as if active; however, the Astrodome closed in 2004. The closing sequence of the film briefly depicts the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as seen from a small installation of fountains that was subsequently replaced by the National World War II Memorial.

Top 10 Tips For 2010 (The Year, Not The Film) According To 2010 (The Film, Not The Year)


Though it did not win, 2010 was nominated for five Academy Awards:[4]

2010 won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1985.


At one time, Tony Banks, keyboardist for the band Genesis, was commissioned to do the soundtrack for 2010.[5] However, David Shire was eventually selected to compose the soundtrack, which he co-produced along with Craig Huxley. Besides being used for the film, the soundtrack music was also published by the A&M Records company in the United States.

Unlike many film soundtracks of the first half of the 1980s and before, the soundtrack for 2010 was composed for and played mainly using digital synthesizers. These included the Synclavier by the New England Digital company and a Yamaha DX1. Andy Summers, guitarist for the band The Police, performed in the soundtrack composition "2010". Only two compositions on the soundtrack album feature a symphony orchestra. Mr. Shire and Mr. Huxley were so impressed by the realistic sound of the Synclavier that they placed a disclaimer in the album's liner notes: "No re-synthesis or sampling was employed on the Synclavier."

Differences from the novel

  • The film 2010 omits the space voyage and the landing of the Chinese spaceship, Tsien, on the Jovian moon Europa before the Alexei Leonov's arrival, and the accidental destruction of the Tsien by the non-intelligent life-forms residing there, and also the description of Dave Bowman's (the Star Child's) exploration of the Jovian system, in which he observes various life forms in the oceans of Europa and in the Jovian atmosphere.
  • The film also omits almost all the romantic/physical relationships between the astronauts. In the novel, Tanya Kirbuk is married to the navigator, Vasili Orlov, and has taken the surname Orlova. In the novel, Walter Curnow is bisexual, and he has a relationship with Maxim Brailovsky, but breaks it off when he learns that Zenia Marchenko is in love with Maxim. At the end of the novel we find that Maxim gets married to Zenia, and Curnow gets married to the doctor, Katerina Rudenko.
  • Also omitted from the film is the ending of Dr. Floyd's marriage while he is on board the mission to Jupiter, due to his wife's natural feeling of abandonment from his leaving her and their son to go on a years-long spaceflight. The voice-mail letters to his family that are portrayed in the movie replace moments in the novel in which Dr. Floyd corresponds with an old friend back on the Earth.
  • The film adds a few sub-plots that are not present in the novel. A manned exploratory expedition to the black monolith in Jovian orbit is portrayed in which Maxim gets killed. (He does not die in the novel.) The film also adds a testy period of political tension between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. which results in the American astronauts being expelled from Alexei Leonov and being sent to live on the Discovery One. (In the novel, it is China that leads the political tensions.)
  • Several characters have been modified from the novel to the movie. In the novel 2010, Dr. Chandra is definitely an Asian Indian man. His full name is Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai, and he displays several Indian habits. In the film, this character, the computer science expert, is referred to only as "Dr. Chandra", and he is played by Bob Balaban, a light-skinned American caucasian (whose ancestry happens to be Russian Jewish) whose character doesn't have anything to do with India. Chandra and SAL are shown at the University of Chicago instead of the University of Illinois.
  • In the novel, Dr. Rudenko is a woman named Katerina, but in the film, Dr. Rudenko is a man named Vladimir. In the novel, a crew member named Irina Yakunina suffers an injury before the launch, and she is replaced by Zenia Marchenko, but in the film, there is a crew member called Irina Yakunina who has all of Zenia's character traits.
  • In the novel, the idea of using the Discovery One as a booster is Curnow's idea - naturally since he is the American astronautical engineer on board, and it is his job to work on repairing the Discovery One. It is definitely not Dr. Floyd's idea, as it is in the movie, although the film does not rule out Curnow and Floyd discussing the idea first. Also, Curnow's character is much more outgoing and ebullient than in the movie.
  • The film simplifies some of the novel's scientific details: the Discovery One's tumbling motion and its drift toward Io are left unexplained (in the novel these are caused by the rotation of its centrifuge being transferred to the ship's superstructure due to the failure of the bearings, and by the Jupiter-Io flux tube). Floyd instead states that he believes the monolith is responsible for the ship's orbital decay.
  • In the novel, Bowman's warning indicated that the Alexei Leonov and its crew had to leave Jupiter space within fifteen days. The film shortened the deadline to only two days.
  • In the novel, HAL is commanded to repeatedly broadcast the message "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS - EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE." The film adds the words "USE THEM TOGETHER. USE THEM IN PEACE."
  • The novel includes a brief epilogue titled "20,001", which details the evolution of the Europans. The film simplifies this to a single scene of Europa gradually being transformed into a jungle planet.
  • In the novel, Chandra never reveals to HAL the real reason behind their hurried departure from Jupiter. In the film version, Chandra finally breaks his silence and tells HAL the truth, knowing that there is a possibility that he might defy orders. HAL, however, follows the orders exactly and thanks Chandra for telling him the truth, to which he replies, "You deserve it."

Discontinuities between 2001 and 2010

  • In its use of Jupiter as a setting, the film is discontinuous with the novel of 2001 but continuous with the film. While the novel of 2001 had located the destination of Discovery One at Saturn, this was changed to Jupiter for the film to simplify the special effects. Both the novel and the film of 2010 follow the film of 2001 in using Jupiter.
  • In the film, 2010, the blue spacesuit on the Discovery One is missing its helmet, even though the blue suit was never used at all in the film 2001. (In 2001, when Dave Bowman enters the Discovery One to disable HAL, he is actually wearing a green helmet - part of a green spacesuit that is stowed in the emergency airlock.) He changes to wearing the red helmet for his voyage into the Black Monolith.
  • In the film, 2010, Dr. Floyd protests that he never authorized anyone to inform HAL of the TMA-1 monolith prior to the Discovery One's launch to Jupiter. However, in the film version of 2001, the recorded message by Dr. Floyd that is played after HAL's disconnection clearly states that only HAL had full knowledge of the TMA-1 monolith.
  • In the novel 2001, HAL identifies his teacher as Dr. Chandra. Stanley Kubrick's film changed the name to "Mr. Langley". Both the novel and the film of 2010 use "Dr. Chandra", without noting that "Chandra" and "Langley" were meant to be the same character.
  • The line "My God... it's full of stars!", quoted at the beginning of the film, 2010, was not spoken in the film 2001. It is only read in the novel.
  • In the film, 2001, Kubrick had taken the unusual (and realistic) step of presenting explosions in outer space as being silent, as they would be in a vacuum. In the film, 2010, they are presented inaccurately as producing noise.
  • In the film 2001, the informational displays on the Discovery One are flat panels (realized by the film's set designers by using rear-projection). In the film, 2010, the displays are cathode ray tubes (CRTs) with the slightly-curved face characteristic of most CRTs. (Actual CRTs were used in the set design.)
  • In the film, 2001, Dr. Floyd states that the monolith found on the Moon was located "near the crater Tycho" - hence the designation "TMA-1". "TMA" stood for "Tycho Magnetic Anomaly". In his text report at the beginning of 2010, Dr. Floyd states that the Monolith was discovered on the Moon's Sea of Tranquility. These two lunar locations are hundreds of miles apart.
  • By the end of the film, 2001, all three of Discovery One's pods would have been gone (The first one gone with Frank Poole, the second when Dave Bowman tried to save Poole, and the third through the Star Gate), but in 2010, we see that Discovery One still has one pod in its bay. (In the novel, it was explained that Bowman had somehow recovered the second pod afterwards, and it was this second pod that remained on Discovery).

Comic Book

In 1984, Marvel Comics published a 50-page comic book adaptation of the movie. It was adapted by J. M. DeMatteis, and illustrated by Joe Barney, Larry Hama and Tom Palmer.

DVD release

2010 was first released on DVD (R1) in 1998 by MGM. It was re-issued (with different artwork) in September 2000 by Warner Bros. Both releases are presented with the soundtrack remastered in Dolby 5.1 surround sound and in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, though a packaging error appears on the 2000 Warner release, claiming that the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen when, in reality, it is simply letterboxed and not anamorphic (the MGM version of the DVD makes no such claim). The R1 releases also include the film trailer and a 10 minute behind-the-scenes featurette "2010: The Odyssey Continues" (made at the time of the film's production), though this is not available in other regions.

The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on April 7, 2009. It features a BD-25 single-layer presentation with 1080p/VC-1 video and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround audio. The disc also includes the film's original "making of" promotional featurette (as above) and theatrical trailer as extras.


  1. ^ a b LoBrutto 1997, p. 456.
  2. ^ Arthur C. Clarke and Peter Hyams. The Odyssey File. Ballantine Books, 1984.
  3. ^ Excerpt from The Odyssey File.
  4. ^ "NY Times: 2010". NY Times. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  5. ^ Tony Banks interview,


  • LoBrutto, Vincent. Stanley Kubrick. London: Faber & Faber Limited, 1997.

External links


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