I wrote the text below in response to a thread of comments regarding a brief, critical user review of the DVD 2001: A Space Oddysey.
I think that Anthony Costine's Rothko observation is valuable: for me, Mark Rothko's huge, nearly-formless canvases serve as the closest fine art is able to approach to a spiritual gateway - his works present me with the opportunity safely to stand on the threshold between life and death. The Clarke / Kubrick novel / screenplay (they wrote them together) considers the breathtaking enormity of the leaps made by humankind from our genetic divergence away from other primates. We are not really being invited to consider the detail of each technological development and innovation, but to gulp at the height of the cliff edge on which we now perch. The story then moves on to consider ways in which humankind may further develop, perhaps in ways that will seem god-like to the just-beyond-savages who we are today. 2001 is intended neither to be an intellectual movie, nor a thrill ride, nor a drama, no more than were one standing on the brink of the Grand Canyon, or sitting in front of a Mark Rothko painting, or watching a movie (such as Stalker) by Andrei Tarkovsky. Perhaps the 'mistake' is to consider it (along with Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky) primarily as work of science fiction. Maybe the fact that Clarke was a science fiction writer, and the movie was marketed as science fiction misdirects how the movie can most engagingly be viewed.