2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY


1968

DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick

A classic that still inspires filmmakers today, as well as debate…

This is a beautiful film, spectacular to look at, let alone here, but its pacing turns into a work of art, rather than a movie. It is divided into four distinct chapters: The Dawn of Man, Le voyage dans la Lune, The ACTUAL story, and the psychedelic final 25 minutes. The Apes are cool and this opening sequence presents the monoliths as something creeping and desperately important. The voyage to the moon, which clocks up 40 minutes is elegant and innovative though slow and bar some minor plot development, filled with small talk.

The Discovery story begins at minute 50, finally introducing the main cast who are played and directed clinically, but again, continue to show what life may well be like in the future or eleven years ago now. But the final act is where this becomes something which many people have found hard to swallow. Having sat through 110 minutes of apes, space flight and meals through straws, our hero as you might call him, enters the Monolith in orbit of Jupiter, and spends the next 25 minutes becoming a star child.

All in all, this is one of the best Sci Fi films that I have ever seen, and SEEN is very much the word. This is a delight to look at and listen too, designed for big screens and even bigger sound systems, but there’s nothing to offer in the way of plot. The characters are handled in typical Kubrick fashion, as clinical devices to drive the paper-thin narrative, with HAL, the on board computer, managing to be the heart of the entire film.

In fact, it starts down the road of becoming a little heartbreaking when the moment to comes to shut down this paranoid killing machine, and in many ways, that could be the genius of this film. This is many things, but not least it is an existentialist exploration of our place in the universe, but it’s also only half a story. Every door is opened but not a one is entered or explored. What has happened to HAL? What possessed Dave Bowman to fly into the Monolith? What the hell was going on?

The point is to discover this for yourself, to read what you want into it and derive your own conclusions, but in the end, it comes across as a film so self-indulgent that it simply doesn’t care how it tells it story, just how it looks on the screen. This is truly and work of art and in may ways, belongs in that genre, but it is also one a hell of a good-looking movie, but in the end, to me, it fails to be all that it could have been.

2010: The Year We Make Contact is in many ways a better FILM, with a well-rounded plot and method, and manages to fill in most of the blanks from the first. It is very underrated because you cannot be better that one of Hollywood’s sacred cows, but as good as this is, it literally lost the plot somewhere in its production.

This is still an inspiration to filmmakers everywhere as so it should be. A masterpiece of modern cinema. Most defiantly…

N.B. There are may ways to interpreted 2001: A Space Odyssey, some see it as a religious allegory, others as man with his tools, evolving as he goes. But there are some pretty radical views of the film, fuelled by Kubrick’s deliberate failure to justify his own film. For more on this subject, take a look at INTERPRETATIONS OF 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY on Wikipedia. Very interesting read, though many world argue that you shouldn’t need to read volumes just to understand what you’ve seen on film.

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