2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½

Well, I don't even know where to start on this one. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey has one of the most though-provoking messages and one of the biggest payoffs in cinematic history. Giving a brief summary of the story is barely worth it since the various acts are entirely different from one another and doesn't seem to form a coherent plot line until the message of the film is presented. The film was adapted from a short story by Arthur C Clarke called "The Sentinel" and was shot in 70mm Super Panavision, which is interesting since 70mm seems to be making a comeback because of such directors as Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino.

During my recent rewatch, I watched 2001 with a friend who is not an avid film lover and to my surprise he didn't even like the film. I was equal part annoyed and equal part fascinated by this. What could make anyone dislike this film? Well firstly the slow pacing bored him and secondly he didn't grasp any of the subtext, I guess that large parts or even a majority of the modern audience needs the lame story telling technique of characters summarising the plot and underlying themes through sloppy and unnatural dialogue.

Myself, on the other hand, was seeing the film for a second time and had already fallen in love with it on the first viewing. This time I was able to get even more out of the experience since the films big revelation was already known to me, I was instead able to focus on all the details of the story and the visuals. Spectacular visuals is one of the films strong points and the slit-scan scene is still unique to this day.

In most films the story tends to be a vehicle which helps one or multiple characters to develop. In 2001 the characters are the vehicles which allows the story to develop and progress. The use of dialogue is minimal to say the least as most of the information and plot points are communicated through the heavy visuals. To make statements on such complex topics as evolution, technology and extra-terrestrial life in this fashion is something that only a director like Kubrick would attempt and succeed with.

fewer and fewer films have any kind of philosophical message and almost none have one that could be pondered for hours, like the one in 2001. Some may see the film as pretentious because of its structure, odd techniques and the use of classical music in science-fiction, but I don't think Kubrick had any interest in making a pretentious movie, he wanted to make something bigger, something different as well as something profound and 2001: A Space Odyssey is that and more.

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