What Mick Jagger Said Was ‘The Point’ of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

Mick Jagger acted in some movies but he’s not really known as a film critic. However, he opened up about his feelings on 2001: A Space Odyssey the year it came out — as well as a strange experience he had while watching the film. Jagger had his own theory about the point of the movie. Oddly enough, the director of the film has some minor connection to The Rolling Stones.

Mick Jagger wearing a hat
Mick Jagger | Adger Cowans/Getty Images

The strange thing that happened when Mick Jagger saw ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic that divides people. Some find it riveting and avant-garde while others feel it is slow and boring. In a Rolling Stone interview from 1968, Jagger discussed his experience watching the film. He recalled the audience behaving strangely.

“It was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen,” Jagger said. “It’s a very commercial movie. I really got hung up on the audience more than the movie. They kept leaving at the freaky parts ’cause they just couldn’t make it.” It’s interesting how Jagger called 2001: A Space Odyssey “very commercial” even though it apparently repelled some audiences.

A trailer for 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Jagger had a little more to say about the audience reaction to 2001: A Space Odyssey. “People’s comments are the greatest: ‘you need a lot of imagination to understand the movie,’ ‘it’s a million dollar put-on.’” In addition, he lauded a girl who believed the mysterious black monolith from the film was simply, as Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Cott put it, “big block of hash.”

Mick Jagger on ‘the point’ of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

Because 2001: A Space Odyssey is so oblique, there are many interpretations of the film and what director Stanley Kubrick was trying to accomplish with it. Jagger had his own theory about Kubrick’s intent. 

Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey
A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey | FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

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“I think the point of the movie is that he [Kubrick] wants to get this whole thing across to the mass audience,” Jagger opined. “He’s fantastically interested in doing all these games with the spaceship models and all, that’s his hangup, but it’s incidental. The point is to freak everybody out, which he is very good at. But if you have already been through all that then you can turn onto all the other’s levels.”

The other connections between The Rolling Stones and Stanley Kubrick

Variety reports 2001: A Space Odyssey received mixed reviews on first release but it had lots of celebrity fans. Some of them included Jagger, John Lennon, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, and Henry Fonda. Ultimately, 2001: A Space Odyssey became a big hit with hippies — and an enduring classic.

“Paint It Black”

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The connection between The Rolling Stones and Kubrick did not end there. Kubrick featured The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” in his classic Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket. To this day, many critics try to figure out the messages in Kubrick’s movies — but Jagger felt he understood what Kubrick was doing in 2001.