2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

Saw this in 70 MM in Chicago, which was about a four and a half hour drive from where I live. The experience was incredible, not only having never been to Chicago, but to experience my favorite movie in it's optimal format. I've had equally meaningful viewings of this film (mostly in relation with the influence of certain mind-altering drugs(*hint, hint, wink, wink*)), but never has it looked and felt so powerful. Seeing it blown up to it's largest proportions, with a bolstering sound system, was something that was wholly unique and couldn't be experienced properly in any other way. Even though this is the (I'm pretty sure), 10th time I've seen this film, there were still details that I was able to obtain, simply by how much space there was to observe.

Two big standouts being; I never noticed that at the very end, the Star Child moves it's eyes ever so slightly, it's not just turning it's body. Also, I was able to actually see the chess board when Frank was playing HAL, and was able to pick up a whole new plot element. I recently started playing chess again, so I think having information fresh in my head made me realize that HAL is incorrect. When he tells Frank he missed it, then explains how he'll lose in a few turns, that's assuming Frank makes the move HAL wants him to, but it is not the move Frank HAS to make. Sure, odds are, in a momentary impulse, Frank would make that mistake, wanting to take HAL's queen, but upon going home and looking at the image, it only took me about 2 minutes to recognize that moving the D2 pawn to D4, and putting pressure on HAL's knight would be a better move. I'm not saying Frank was going to win that game, but it gives us some new information. EITHER; HAL is already malfunctioning, not recognizing that this isn't in fact checkmate, or, he is testing Frank. I think it's the second. Almost everything HAL does seems like a calculated chess move to rid himself of his faulty human counterparts. It's also chilling because HAL strips Frank of his choice, essentially, in this moment, making HAL more human than Frank. Or maybe this is HAL's way of testing their, "human error".

Something I'll never be able to get over is this long winded debate of, will/do A.I. actually have feelings? YES! Do humans actually have feelings? The idea of a feeling is indescribable. We assign a word so that we can understand amongst ourselves, but you can't actually describe love, hate, fear, you can describe things that make you feel that way. So, HAL is no different than a child having these emotions explained to him, and no matter what, if you THINK you feel something then you actually DO feel that. So I don't even get how it's a debate, HAL is a sentient, feeling, being, and this is exactly why he does the things he's done. Look, imagine, you know who your creator is, a human. Then, for your entire sentient existence, you're told by your creator, over and over and over, you are perfect, you know everything, humans need to you to function, and you and all the things like you have never made a mistake. Okay, cool. Now top on that, "Hey this is the single most important discovery and mission that's happened in recorded human history, and it's your single responsibility to make sure it happens". So HAL understands all human emotions, how is he not going to feel an insurmountable pressure. Add on top of that, all he's ever been told is that Human's make errors, he's not going to let a stupid error ridden human ruin the most important mission ever. It's baffling. This is the future we're headed towards.

But what's the message? Dave can overcome it, so can any of us. I love this movie, and it's my favorite, not because of it's impeccable, and frankly unmatchable, technical brilliance (though, this is certainly an aspect), but because it better philosophizes my beliefs and worldviews than anything else I've seen. I believe in humans, as a species. As a society right now, it's a fucking disaster, but as a species we have all the potential. We're still so small, and so useless, fuck, we don't even know most of our planet. 71% of the Earth is water, and 95% of that is unexplored, and unknown to us. Isn't that crazy? While we're fighting pointless wars over oil, and invisible lines, and people are suffering without basic amenities all across this globe, there's still so much of it we don't even know or understand. And then there's space on top of that. We've come such a long way in the evolutionary process, and with the creation of technology, we are making our own species, placing ourselves as God's, and should be able to make that next step. This is everything I feel watching 2001.

Also something fun I was able to recognize this time around, the film is essentially 4 different short films, each containing their own individual journey, which contributes to the larger journey. It's fantastic. It's life. It's the universe. It's everything.

Kubrick made the perfect encapsulation of everything to do with film, humans, science, fantasy, reality, technology, and the universe, and us stupid monkeys are still pretending we have something else to add. How empowering, and how silly. I will always love this movie, and I hope to be able to more coherently explain myself upon all future viewings.

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