2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

One listen to Strauss' 'The Blue Danube' and I instantly wanted to revisit one of the greatest films of all time and one of my personal favorites, Stanley Kubrick's otherworldly magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are only a mere handful of films that have made me constantly think about them since I first saw them and this is right up there. Regarded as one of the most groundbreaking and influential pieces of film art of the century, 2001 continues to bedazzle and hypnotize its audience nearly six decades after its launch.

I'm not going to waste my time going over everything because you've heard it all. Sleeping pill to some, acid trip to others, and filmmaking career starter to the lucky few. No matter how you frame it, there is no doubt in my mind that 2001 is one of the ten best films ever made. Epic in scope and storytelling, it's one of the most ambitious films cinema has ever seen. Tracing the evolution of humans from primitive apes to anti-gravity children of the Space Age to mysterious star baby, Stanley Kubrick has successfully told the history of man and beyond. It's not so often you see something like this; I can only imagine the impact this movie had in 1968. Yet here we are in 2021 still pondering about how the director managed to create such a timeless and ambitious tale of innovation and caution.

A rather understandable reason why some people dislike Kubrick's works is the lack of human warmth. To them, they're finely-crafted ice cubes. Slow, dull, robotic. I rarely encounter this issue when I watch a Kubrick and most of the time, this coldness works to the films' advantage since Kubrick's works largely focus on the deconstruction and dehumanization of mankind.

The fine line between man and machine has been crossed as technology has progressed millions of years; we literally went from killing with animal bones to conquering space with massive, intricately-engineered spacecraft. Robots and computers have become more human-like and a complete takeover is a real threat and fear. Sometimes I think we're living in a sci-fi dystopia waiting for nuts and bolts to replace us. Our reliance on tech has brought us great fortune and convenience but as we continue to develop toward tech's autonomy thanks to the inevitable process of evolution, we place our very safety and humanity at risk. What's tragic and scary is that we're to blame at the end of the day. Bottomline is 2001 makes me think so much and feel so much (out of the thoughts that come out of my head) about the future, the past, the present, our place in the universe, and a lot more. Not a lot of films can do that and any film that does that deserves my full recognition.

Claiming that I understand 2001 would be a lie since there are still so many mysteries surrounding this film. For instance, where did the monoliths come from? From aliens, from some sort of higher power? Or how about the final few minutes? Is the star child hopeful or is it deathly? I don't get all of these but I do enjoy thinking about them and that's the beauty of this movie. There are a variety of interpretations for what it all meant. Some things are just best left unanswered. Leaving more questions than answers is the ingredient for debate and mythmaking. Kubrick knew it and its effect is as strong as ever.

Speaking of Stanley Kubrick, what a filmmaker. I'm sure I didn't have to say that but he's definitely the greatest of all time in my book. A bad guy on set, sure, but how one man can breathe an enormous vision to life is beyond me. This is literally the story of man millions of years into the past and a thousand more in the future, and how Kubrick was able to convey this titanic message in two-and-a-half hours through visuals, sound, editing, and other film techniques deserves all the praise in the world. 2001 remains quite possibly the most visually-arresting and beautiful film I've ever seen. Also one of the best in the sound and editing departments.

There's something so inherently cinematic about 2001: A Space Odyssey. Perhaps it's the colors, the composition, the special effects, the experimental sound and atmosphere, or all of the above, but whatever it is, I feel like there could've been no other medium to capture this story. The 'Stargate' sequence is one of my favorite scenes of all time and honestly, every frame is a painting. How one match cut can transport us millions of years into the future is pure genius. How deafening silence can be just as haunting as a creepy mix of wailing voices is outstanding. How advancement and perfection in architecture and technology can just simply be the complete loss of humanity in plain sight is mind-boggling. It's just perfect.

So it seems I was wrong about me keeping this short. It's like I watched 2001 all over again. This is my second or so viewing and one thing about my very favorite films is that whenever I watch them again, it always feels like the first time. All my knowledge about the story and the characters vanish before I hit play. 2001 doesn't have much of a plot to begin with but what I truly value in a movie is the experience. Yes it's sluggish but also yes, I do enjoy astronauts moving slowly as they do something in the black, empty vastness of outer space. It's just so mesmerizing. I can't take my eyes off the screen and it's impossible to check my phone because 2001 has that magic you feel you're just privileged to witness. What a treat this must be to experience in a theater. There are lots of films I especially want to see in a theater because the big screen-dark room-loud speakers combo works perfectly for them and 2001 is on top of that list.

As an aspiring filmmaker, 2001's effect on me is undeniable. Seeing this for the first time was one of the earliest examples of, "And right then and there, I knew I wanted to make movies". Kubrick's direction is just so powerful and inspirational to all young artists and perfectionists. 2001 is the definitive Kubrick film and one of the greatest achievements in all of human history. The film starts on a black screen, as if a monolith staring at the audience. If Kubrick was indeed suggesting that his following film will transcend cinema and life altogether years into the future, he wasn't wrong one bit.

For this viewing, I committed a crime. And the crime was pausing. That's like cutting an epic guitar solo short; it hurt. I paused for a while around the middle because I watched the Oscars nominations livestream which were okay since I expected worse. I'll get to that tomorrow but let me wrap this review up.

In my first review of 2001, I noted at the end that it was the longest review I've written on the site thus far. Ha, get a load of this. Sorry if that was longer than promised but I just really got excited over this movie again. I don't blame myself though. 2001 is a masterpiece and that word doesn't even do this film justice. If you haven't experienced this yet, what in the galaxy are you doing with your life? See it, believe it, love it; you're wrong about calling this overrated. No 2001 slander is allowed, filmbros.
That's all, I don't want to elongate this write-up any further. Thanks for reading and stay safe. Take care, everyone!

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