2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½

A million things have been written, felt, explained, and explored about this film--and in many ways--I hate a lot of those things. The least of those that I hate, are the writings that accept 2001: A Space Odyssey as a sublime, avant garde, science fiction experience, instead of explain the why's and how's. I know mainstream sci-fi has absolved itself of such thorough analysis, but this is 2001.

The rigidity of Kubrick's formal style is so succinct, it is impossible to argue against the film's value and impact. Is there even a point in doing so? The film is beyond iconic and influential. It's elegance in symmetry and abstraction are still absolutely breathtaking. I think I may confuse its simplicity for it's coldness--even though--after all, it is space. There is still something about the film as a whole that feels a little too "objet d'art". As the pure distillation of artistry and science, it limits it's own emotional capacity, which in itself is a comment on our own human capacity for emotion. And of course, there is Hal, who in his dying state, seems to say something that underlies the entire film "I'm afraid", a human element of fear in the face of such an immense unknown. Be dwarfed by it or become one with it.

The end game light show, in theory, as transcendence and evolution is fine. But I think it doesn't fully succeed as much as the literal set pieces before it. Its a nice attempt and it does come around to the star child, which I think emotionally reels it all back in. Kubrick's masterstroke of genius was the synergy of classical music and slowly floating objects in space. There is an argument that for those moments when we watch the ships move and matter in actual space, it is through the eyes of god. I'm not getting into any--monolith means that and Hal broke down because of this, nonsense. You are fine to do so, but I think it steps on the film's meditative nature a bit too much. I'd rather accept the monolith, Hal, humans, stars, and the planets for the simple nature and beauty of what they are, as they are; motion and intelligence.

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