2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

A sure sign of how much my tastes have changed is that I almost didn't give this 5-stars. It's been at least 6 years since the last viewing. But when I got to Jupiter, my brain said, "OH YES. THIS IS THE STUFF." Awe.

Some things I nitpick now: 

• why do Bowman and Poole turn the pod leaving the window facing HAL? It's not so much as they don't know HAL can read lips, but that their lack of consideration of it as a possibility runs contrary to their competence at every turn and the importance of their meeting there. It's so preventable. At least turn away from the window and talk while you pretend to work.

• it is evident that HAL can remotely control the pods, so why did they decide to meet in one assuming HAL has plenipotentiary powers where he has access? Is that not the case? Bowman switches off the communications but it's a strange thing to assume HAL has access to the pod's doors and motor functions but not the communication circuits. It's a small thing but we never learn why HAL doesn't just hijack Bowman's pod and fly him out into space. Perfectly logical. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's just one technical detail missing in a world otherwise flush with them. Just show a switch or button to that effect on a panel. It would even make sense for Bowman to turn it on after what happens to Poole.

• and this is such a peccadillo on my part, but I now think tool-use as introduced in the dawn of man is either skipping a step or incongruous ever so slightly in the progression of mankind into our present state. It is a perfectly cinematic expression (match cut to satellite: 👌) but the real leap is one of symbolic reasoning, without which language as we know it let alone complex problem solving like satellites would be impossible. Lots of animals use tools. The monolith gave the primordial man an inkling of how one thing could be something else, perhaps. But the match cut makes an equation between the bone and satellite, which suggests the stricter understanding of tool-use: it's one leap. I mean, the suggestion of the importance of symbols is all throughout the future in all the operation instructions, implying how abstract life has become, cover stories, video screens, chess, space toilets, and HAL itself, who is an entirely virtual entity, only capable of symbolic reasoning. It's a good directorial choice Kubes but the A to B of it is quibble-worthy, especially considering how heady this gets on the horizon.

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