2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★

Achievable Watchlist Film 5

“Dr Floyd: Don't suppose you have any idea what the thing is, huh? 
Dr. Rolf Halvorsen: Wish to hell we did.”

Minor spoilers ahead i guess. 

It’s been a couple months since I’ve delved into my achievable watchlist, but now i’m back to it. First off, I know my views on this film are definitely going to be a hot take, and I can guarantee that 99 percent of Letterboxd users will disagree with me, but I’ve given this a couple days of thought and I can’t be dishonest about my views. 

Because I don’t want to sound extremely down on this movie, I will start with the positives. The cinematography and the score namely, was some of the best i’ve seen. I don’t usually talk about the scores of movies, but wow, Khachaturyan’s score was so haunting and along with cinematography was one of the things that saved this movie from being totally horrible. His score really cut to the bone and made you feel like you were actually floating through the vacuum of space. Moving on to Geoffrey Unsworth’s cinematography. Oh my goodness was that stuff tasty. Truly a technical spectacle to behold. 

But as the travel “film” trend of 2018 taught us, pretty pictures and music does not make a good movie. To quote the quite possibly most over-quoted quote in film school: “story is king.” I can’t emphasize enough how important acting, cinematography, set building, soundtrack, etc. is to make a good film, but if you don’t have a story, your movie is ultimately lifeless. It is just a bunch of pretty pictures used to hypnotize it’s viewers. 

Let’s take a look at the story of 2001. 

It’s gets off to a good start with the evolution of apes, showing that deep at our core humans still are humans. The scene shifts from the chaotic and barbaric nature of pre-historic times to the peaceful and serene future filled with space travel and interplanetary business. A beautiful contrast. The mystery set up during the time of the apes is continued into the present time and the guy who appears to be the protagonist (Dr. Floyd) is part of a committee to discuss what to do about it. Well we meet this guy’s daughter and learn more about him. The set building is amazing. Everything is tasty. It’s on a roll. We’re just starting to get interested when.....

BLAM! It’s 18 months later and we’re on a spaceship with two guys and an annoying computer we don’t know or care about and this guy Floyd is never to be seen again. Already a big no-no and the first major demise of a movie’s story: the audience is now disinterested in the characters. So they yeet off to Jupiter because this monolith thing was pointing there. And then they have trust issues with this computer and then it goes psychopath killer for no reason and then Dave disables it. So the whole movie (despite all the floating in space for like an hour and a half that didn’t really didn’t contribute much) points to one question: what are these monoliths and do they have some like mindblowing revelations about mankind? Are we gonna answer that question? Nope. But here’s a cool light show and a weird space baby thing. Hm. That’s like a whodunnit mystery ending with the great detective sitting everyone down for the great reveal and then shrugging and being like “who cares about the mystery anyway”. WHAT? I’ve waiting all this time for you tell me the answer for you just to say there isn’t even a point for this to exist in the first place. That’s some fine storytelling right there. I really cannot bring myself to love a movie just because it’s pretty. And I thought interstellar was cold, this movie is lifeless. 

I like me a good ambiguous plot, I don’t even expect to fully understand it, but I
want enough content for my imagination to run with. 

I can respect the technical achievements of this movie, but I cannot love something without a soul. 

Added to:
Classics that let me down
First watches of 2019

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