Stanley Kubrick’sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, turns 50 next year. This milestone anniversary will most certainly be celebrated with special screenings, commemorative merchandise, retrospective lectures etc.

The epic science-fiction film from 1968 is one of director Stanley Kubrick’s greatest works. The film deals with the themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. Noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery.


Stanley Kubrick collaborated with writer Arthur C. Clarke who offered Kubrick six of his short stories, and by May 1964, Kubrick had chosen “The Sentinel” as the source material for the film. They spent two years transforming “The Sentinel” into a novel, and then into a script for 2001.

Harry Lange, Anthony Masters and Ernest Archer was nominated for the Academy Award for “Best Art Direction” and won a BAFTA for the film. Hans “Harry” Kurt Lange was a professional illustrator, film production designer, and art director, who worked on many classics of science fiction including on all three of the Star Wars films, Superman II (1980) and The Dark Crystal (1982).

Lange, who was a former NASA illustrator, told BBC what it was like to work with Kubrick on the film.

“I met Stanley through Arthur C Clarke – a friend from my NASA days – who told me he was collaborating with Kubrick on filming one of his stories.

“I was virtually the first person, and the last person, to work on the project with Stanley Kubrick. I got along with him very well. He was an absolute stickler for detail and a good taskmaster. That was fine with me, because I was new to filmmaking.

Here are some of his sketches for the film, and for comparison, what eventually ended up in on the big screen.

The Academy Award-nominated Lange passed away in 2008. All images, courtesy of Harry Lange Archive/The Boynett Collection. Copyright 1968 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros Pictures. All rights reserved