2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Days to Go: 362
Films to Go: 147
Have I seen it before? – No (but have seen parts)
IMDB rating: 8.4 out of 10
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
My rating: 8 out of 10
Next films I’ll be watching:
The African Queen (1951) – link is to my post for that film
All the President’s Men (1976)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
American Graffiti (1973)
See THE LIST here.
Friendly reminder: These discussions of films in the ‘Year of Classic Films Challenge’ may contain some minor spoilers. I will still try to keep it to a minimum and hopefully only those who have seen the movie will know what I’m referring to. However, there may be some discussion of plot and such.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey rates an 8 out of 10 on my scale. Some people, including most critics, think of Stanley Kubrick as some sort of filmmaking genius. Others, who do not ‘get’ his style, think of him as maybe a little crazy. But, regardless of what you think of the man, he has written, produced and/or directed quite a few critically acclaimed, award winning films. His films have had 13 Academy Award nominations, and in 1969, 2001: A Space Odyssey took home the statue for Best Visual Effects.
First, the reasons I gave it an 8. My feelings about ‘2001’ are pretty much the same as my feelings about Avatar. Both films are visually gorgeous, and fairly groundbreaking with their visual effects. ‘2001’ also has probably one of the most iconic musical scores/soundtrack in film history. However, there was just something about each film that didn’t quite make them homeruns for me. In this case, I just couldn’t fully get on board with Kubrick and the story he told (and how he told it).
The main thing I can’t wrap my head around (well, besides like 30% of the film) is the beginning and the end. If you chopped off the part with the monkeys in the beginning, and the weird aging scenes at the end, it would be a really cool space movie with a killer computer (a completely different movie for sure). But, Kubrick went with the alien monolith starting/ending life thing. Maybe I just didn’t ‘get it.’ As a matter of fact, I’m almost certain I didn’t.
Well, now that we got that out of the way, what did I like? The visual effects are mind blowing for 1968. People, this was nearly 10 years before Star Wars! Kubrick went with slower, more realistic space scenes: guys floating very slowly, heavy breathing in the space suits, walking up the walls, jogging around a circular room, etc. Very cool stuff.
Even if you’ve never seen this movie, you have heard the music. My favorite is not the theme music (‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ by Richard Strauss), but is ‘The Blue Danube Waltz’ by Johann Strauss. When Kubrick played this during the vast exterior space shots you can’t help but grin. What a beautiful piece of music.
These are some questions and observations meant to spark discussion about the film. If you have not seen it, you may want to stop reading if you don’t want to read any spoilers.
My friend and colleague Don Driscoll, the Norfolk Comic Books Examiner, said this: “The genius thing about ‘2001’ (whether it is intentional or not) is that you can start that movie at any point, and it can be the beginning of the film, just loop back to the scene right before you started… which just goes to show how completely nonsensical it is.” I think he’s right. The way Kubrick weaves this odd tale, you really could pick any point, watch the film until the end, then start at the beginning until you reach your starting point and it would play out essentially the same way. Not sure how I feel about that, but it would be interesting to try it.
Also, there are quite a few plot holes like: [Spoilers galore in next paragraph]
If HAL has control of the pods (used one to kill Frank), why didn’t he just shut down the pod Dave was in before he could get back to the ship? Why would they bother to put a “Computer Malfunction” light on the ship if the HAL 9000 had never malfunctioned (ok, that one is really just kinda funny…just like the “Life Functions Terminated” light, were you really anticipating that?!). Why did Dave get into a pod without a helmet in the first place? Isn’t that covered in pod training? When Dave and Frank were discussing HAL and HAL could read their lips, why didn’t the two guys just write notes back and forth where HAL couldn’t see them instead of sitting right in front of his camera and talking? And the list goes on. Nitpicking things? Sure. Are there issues like this in most space films? Absolutely. But, they are fun to point out and talk about.
What do you think Kubrick was going for with the monolith, dawn of man scene with the monkeys, aging scene at the end, etc? I think it has something to do with the alien species that created it being so powerful that they jump started human evolution and then start the cycle over again at the end of the film (perhaps headed for a different planet?).
Did you think Kubrick went a little overboard with the lighting and color effects at the end after Dave shut down HAL and was flying to Jupiter or wherever he ended up? I thought it was several minutes too long. The effects were great, but it got old after a while.
The musical score/soundtrack from ‘2001’ is incredibly famous now. Can you think of any other films that had such an impactful soundtrack? One that instantly makes you think of the film.
Feel free to ask your own questions or leave your own thoughts beyond these talking points in the Comments Section below.
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