Welcome to my blog, there will be nothing but movie reviews and film related content here. I try and review a wide variety of films, from old to new, and throw in film reviews from the current year as well. All comments are appreciated here, I will reply as soon as possible, and feel free to follow!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey - 1968

2001: A Space Odyssey is a film concerning the developement of the human race, and is broken down into four parts. The Dawn of Man, TMA-1 or Monolith on the Moon (no title card), Jupiter Mission, and Jupiter and Beyong the Infinite. It begins with The Dawn of Man, where for quite awhile nothing goes on but many apes running around. And what happens when a mysterious monolith appears? The apes begin to all crowd around it, touching it, then the next thing is one of the apes gains the knowledge of tool use. But along with another ape this is immediately used for violence. TMA-1 is the next sequence in the film, in which astronauts discover the same, or very similar monolith that was found many years ago. Like the apes, they begin to touch it and a loud screeching sound occurs. This is supposedly sent to Jupiter, and soon a few other astronauts will go on a space mission to find out just what this strange monolith is really all about.


2001: A Space Odyssey has got to be one of the most unique films I have ever seen, especially for its time. This is the film that may be overlooked by regular movie goers today, but is no doubt what has set the standard for great science fiction. But I do understand why most people you will talk to in current time either have not seen this, or did not like it. 2001: A Space Odyssey is definitely a taste specific film, and it isn't the type of movie that many people will enjoy. It is more for those who have a passion for the art of film making. Even though these are all very different films as far as story goes, I would compare it to Star Wars and Star Trek. They are not actually that similar, but taking into consideration all are focused on space, at times they can have a similar feel to them. So as far as personal taste goes, I would say if you like Star Wars and Star Trek then this will probably fit your taste as well.


The story is quite complicated really, and I am sure it will take many people reading interpretations before they fully understand the film. But that is one of the points Kubrick is trying to make here. 2001: A Space Odyssey is not a film that has an exact answer to every question is asks. As Kubrick himself said, it is more of just a film that is supposed to be experienced by the viewer. It isn't what the majority of people think, not what the critics think, it is what you make out of the film. That is not usually my style of movie, as far as when a message is trying to be pushed into a film, but here that is what Kubrick wanted and it worked very well, brilliantly to be honest. However, this film can be a confusion to many audiences, and even though I have not read it, I have heard the book provides many more explanation to the things that occur than the film does. From what I have read, there are more answers concering the monolith and a more specific ending. I know that the film and novel were originally intended to compliment each other, and they have their differences, but if you want more answers that is probably the best way to go.


I have heard many people say this film is much too long, and that I don't get. I am sure some, or a lot, find it to be very boring. I strongly disagree because I thought every minute of this film was very well made, but there certainly are parts that drag out a bit. That isn't meant as criticism, but more as a fact. The film begins with about a 2 minute black screen, which I have read that Kubrick said was intended to be the side of the monolith. But I knew this was a film for me when it opened with the alignment of the moon, earth and sun, while playing the much too famous "Also Sprach Zarathustra". It may be slow moving, but everything in 2001: A Space Odyssey is needed, beginning with The Dawn of Man. This is probably where most viewers who do not make it all the way through this film will just cut the TV off. I am not sure the exact time, but it goes on for a very long while, nothing but the audience just sitting and watching the habits of the peaceful apes. But the mystery begins when the monolith comes, and the nature of the apes changed. This eventually leads into the second part, TMA-1, where the humans come across the monolith. The story is so perfect here, because even without very much dialogue and a lot of long scenes, the audience is drawn into the film with the wonders of where the monolith came from. And I think this is the part of the film that gets to people the most. There has been a time where everyone in the world is curious about where exactly we came from, and are we the only intelligent life in the universe, and this is why 2001: A Space Odyssey does not have an actual answer to all of its questions. It is more of what do you personally believe, which is one of the biggest reasons it speaks to so many people. But, as I have said, the book does have more of an answer to such questions mainly concerning the monolith. Obviously I cannot spoil them, but it does give good answers to its questions.


It is mostly famous for the technical brilliance it displays on the screen, but 2001: A Space Odyssey does have characters, and yes they do speak. These mainly only come in during the last two parts of the film, but it surprisingly enough has quite an unforgettable character in HAL 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain. This is the "perfect" computer that never makes a mistake, which leads the film's main characters into their trip to Jupiter. Obviously, if I wanted I could go into more detail about the characters, but that is not what this film is about, so I am just wasting my breath discussing such things. And this definitely took getting used to. Normally in just the average film that I watch the thing that I pay closest attention to would be the performances. Just in general that is the thing that I care most about in films. But here it does not matter whether we have talented actors or not, the script is short for most characters and very supporting to everyone. This is no doubt something that everyone might not like, and I cannot believe I am saying this. The performances were good, but honestly it doesn't even matter one bit.


The screenplay and direction combined were two quite amazing accomplishments. Most of the credit for how great this film turned out to be must go to Stanley Kubrick, considering he handled the visual effects, was the co-writer, and most of all the director of the film. But the most interesting thing was that the writer along with Kubrick was Arthur C. Clark, who was the actual author of the book. With that being the clear guide to making the film, Kubrick and Clarke really hit a home run with the screenplay. As I mentioned, and as probably everyone already knows from hearing about it, there is very little dialogue, which only increased the difficulty of Kubrick and Clarke's job. And often times they have us just sitting and watching spacecrafts float through space and listening to "The Blue Danube". But in the end, Kubrick's direction was so good it is honestly hard to believe at times. This was such a hard film to pull together with so much power in such a short time, and Kubrick does it beautifully. 2001: A Space Odyssey is undoubtedly one of the main reasons Kubrick is considered by me, and many others to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest director of all time.


One thing that still continues to amaze me about 2001: A Space Odyssey is that it is so scientifically accurate. I am no scientist, and never will be, but I have read from several different sources that this is one of the most scientifically accurate films ever made. All of the ships were designed based on how ships were supposed to be made, and there is no sound in space which is something you often will not see in movies, but is in fact the more accurate way to do the film. Normally in films I do not mind how accurate they are, as far as this goes or historical accuracy, but I do find it incredible that Kubrick has done so much in this film. It is one thing to make a brilliant film such as this one, and it is another to make one and keep it accurate. That is something that really makes the film all the more impressive in my eyes. I am not going to continue and ramble over this one specific part of the film, but if you are watching it for the first time it is something to look for, and read up on how 2001: A Space Odyssey was made.


Now for perhaps what is the most important, and no question the most impressive part of the film, and that is the technical brilliance displayed here. We all know whether we have seen the film or not, that as far as special effects go 2001: A Space Odyssey is quite groundbreaking for its time. In fact, it is not until 1977 when the original Star Wars was released that Roger Ebert compared the effects to that of this film. I personally feel that is a very big compliment to both of these films. But what I loved most was the sequence when Bowman is pulled into the colored lights, and the audience sits and watches the screen go through this for quite awhile. The cinematography was so great here as slit-scan photography is used. Which cool enough, is something I did not learn about until seeing this film. But just in general the spacecrafts floating around the universe was absolutely beautiful, and especially for its time the actual stars and space were done perfectly. Even if you are someone who finds this film boring, it is undeniably beautiful to just sit and watch. With no surprise here, 2001: A Space Odyssey won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.


Overall, this is a film that is not matched by an other science fiction film I have ever seen. Instantly after finishing it I wanted to watch it again, and after the second, I soon wanted to go back for a third. It is a film that has to fit your personal taste, but I loved every minute of it. Everything is so beautiful, and the moments without the dialogue when it is playing the outstanding music, those parts were actually some of my favorite throughout the entire film. The special effects cannot be matched for its time, and the cinematography was unbelievable. Kubrick and Clarke have combined writing this creenplay, and I have to wonder if they even knew what they were creating here. Even if I hated all of his other films (which I don't), Stanley Kubrick will always be remembered by me for this film alone. I love a lot of movies, but 2001: A Space Odyssey just might be my favorite of all time.

Rating: 10/10

26 comments:

  1. I must admit to thinking this is one of the most over rated films of all time! I watched it twice on the night I've only watched it and shrugged my shoulders, and haven't bothered with it since! Each to their own though isn't it!
    For me Kubrik's best will always be Dr. Strangelove.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, I suppose for some people it's just a turn off. I love Dr. Strangelove as well, it is in my top five. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this movie. It's my favorite Kubrick film. It's such a deep film that I get sucked into it every time I watch it. Nice review. It's good to know you really loved this

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah, thank you Jericho. It is nothing short of a work of art by Kubrick, who was nothing short of an artist.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great review. I really do wish I liked this film more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Daniel, if you haven't watched it in awhile, give it another shot!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great review Matt. This is one of Kubrick's best. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Supercrazyguitarmaniacdeluxe3July 10, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    My favourite of all time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. For me I think it is probably his best. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's in my top 3, thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great review, Matt. I agree, most younger people who don't appreciate films the way most of us in the film blogosphere do think 2001 is a rubbish film, due mainly to it's cool presentation and lethargic pacing. Personally, I think it's one of the greatest science fiction/fact films ever made, if not THE greatest.

    You've made a lot of good points here, and made me want to go and watch it again!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Rodney! Great to hear that you can appreciate this film as much as I do.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great Review Matt! This film is a beautiful piece about the human nature and how technology will soon start to have a life of it's own. Which, now being in 2011, seems more true than ever before.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Absolutely, thanks for the comment!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jesse P. From the VaultJuly 12, 2011 at 5:55 AM

    Do i agree??? LIKE HELL YEAH!!!!

    This movie is FUCKING amazing and that's the only WORD!

    Nice work as always!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good to see you agree Jesse. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love this movie, one of my all time favorites. Kubrick's a genius

    ReplyDelete
  18. Kubrick was definitely a genius, and it is one of mine as well. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This film truly fascinates me, and I think I will have to watch it again to understand it better. I think it is artistically brilliant with it's terrific narrative and ground breaking visuals. amazing review Matt!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks man, this is one that really needs multiple viewings.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "This is no doubt something that everyone might not like, and I cannot believe I am saying this. The performances were good, but honestly it doesn't even matter one bit."

    I agree! Great review, Matt! Your review makes me want to see the film again. And I will.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Glad you agree Rohit! Yeah, see it again. It's one that gets better and better everytime!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have enjoyed your blog as well. I have been on a 2001 (and 2010) kick for past week.You are right about Kubrick's intention to present questions instead of give a specific answer to the mysteries of life. Each time I watch 2001, I come up with new questions and different answers. A few years ago I wrote this comment on the opening chapter "The Dawn of Man.":

    "Does the appearance of the geometric shape represent a contamination of the organic pristine environment by technology of civilization? Apes pick up bones discover tools and weapons the technology for civilization. Implications that carnivores are associated with aggression. Spread of civilization will be the theme of human history on earth. Exploration, war and conquest. Fast forward to an environment completely void of anything organic. Warfare has evolved from bones to nuclear weaponry. Human civilization has expanded exploration and conquest to space."

    As a geeky kid I was simply awed by the unique special effects and technology. As an adult who has survived a "code blue" cardiac arrest and coma, the film now has incredible relevance and powerful message about life and death. From my "coma" I have a vivid memory of being in the stars. I have no more answers than Kubrick. But its been satisfying to have Kubrick and Clarke articulate what's been in my own dreams.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great comment. And yeah, to me it just isn't about the answers some people might want Kubrick to give, it's about how you interpret it. As genius as the man was, Kubrick obviously cannot give an answer to all of the questions he asks, so I think it was best that he left everything open to the viewers interpretation. I, as well, found the special effects quite impressive. Some of the best ever in my opinion. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I agree, what a film! 2001 : A Space Odyssey is not for everyone, I must say I love it, there is nothing else quite like it (ok maybe The Tree of Life, I'm curious to know if T Malick actually payed homage to 2001). As you say, 2001 is technically stunning, Kubrick wanted to make a mature science fiction film-and he succeeded I think. I read Kubrick deliberately made the human characters bland so the other elements like HAL, and space, could stand out more in the film

    You can check my review here: http://moviesandsongs365.blogspot.com/2011/05/movie-of-week-2001-space-odyssey-1968.html

    ReplyDelete
  26. I grew up with this film. My parents took me to it when it came out in the theater, at the super young age of 6. I had been exposed to Star Trek by then, and was already developing a flavor for science fiction. To me, this wasn't fiction. This was a forecast of what will really be, our progress into space. The beginning confused me and the ending most certainly left me perplexed, but the experience was spellbinding.

    Despite the advances of technology in CGI and 3D we see today, no other film has created such an impressively realistic presentation of space travel. Modern sci-fi productions over saturate the screen with objects. Everything moves too fast. You can only imagine what Kubrick would have done with a 2030 Space Odyssey follow-up, using technology of today. It just goes to show you how significant the input is from the director and producer.

    Aside from the realism, it is the questions posed, not answered, that is so important here. Kubrick may have touched upon something so incredibly important, that being external influences upon our development. Not to say aliens placed us here, but that our DNA could have come from outer space. It's very likely organic chemicals were delivered to Earth at various points, riding on space debris.

    I think it's also a statement on where we're going. That we may meet an untimely demise, or we may be elevated to the next level of consciousness. We've got a very long way to go... In some respects, I wish Kubrick had named the film 2100. Even in the late 1960's, just 40 years ahead was way too aggressive. But, the mystique of the millennium end was just too compelling and perhaps Clarke and Kubrick felt they had to use it. 2001.

    ReplyDelete