2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

From the opening strains of the orchestra, you know you are in for something other worldly, something that will truly shatter the very foundations of the mind and subconscious. The Atonality of it all suggests a reworking of thought itself, of structure, of form - and that is what will come to pass by the end of the film: a transformation, a “waking up” as the philosopher Alan Watts once said. A realization shaking the very foundation of the human existence. 

No matter how many times I see this towering achievement of a film, I am constantly blown away by the sheer artistry of it, the remarkable visuals that blur everything beyond the realm of the TV screen. Nothing else matters, only rockets hurtling through space, and non-Newtonian/non - Euclidean phantasmagorical fever dreams of time, space, matter and light. What Kubrick achieves here is using film as a medium to relay deep ruminations about the very existence of it all - of this great reality that we call the here and now. 

Around the time of this film, Buddhist philosophy was becoming more popular in the United States and the Western World. At the same time, you had scientists and thinkers like Timothy Leary undergoing psychedelic experiments using LSD, DMT, Salvia and the like. The expansion of the mind was the sub culture of the era; looking outward and then inward to see the true nature of the self. To cut out the ego. To find some great, as the Mahayana Buddhists say, Tathata - meaning “suchness” or quite plainly “nirvana”.

Let me explain, because this is the philosophy that I live my life by: We are that which we seek. Meaning, human beings - we are that great “What If”, that big “I Am”…dare I say it…”God”. The Big Bang was an explosion of two atoms - so then, by definition, everything that was, is and ever will be comes from those two atoms. The Big Bang is still happening and we are the Big Bang continuing - we are the universe, ever expanding. We are all made of stardust - and that energy that keeps us alive, that binds the entire universe, well that IS the universe and it IS us. We are the universe, we can only experience it one at a time. We are here so that the Universe can come to know itself. So the same energy that is in the trees, in the rocks, in the leaves, in the grass - the same energy that forms Black Holes, and the gravity that keeps planets spinning - that’s us. It’s all the same energy. And so when we die, we go back to that energy, and the cycle of birth continues - as it has always done.

That is what I get out of this movie. I see those philosophies at play here. Dave, at the end of the film, goes on a MAJOR trip through the very foundations of the universe. And what does he come to realize? That we are the universe. That life continues - it goes on and on, and will always. We go back to the great Tathata. And Hal, the supercomputer, he realized that. He realized that Dave and the crew would find this great awakening, and was jealous because he would never be able to experience it himself, being a computer. He wanted that nirvana, to be a part of it all, but realized he could never. And so he tried to abort the mission. 

Again, that is my interpretation of the film. The monolith is still a great mystery to me. But maybe that’s the point, maybe it is the great mystery of life, the unknown that has guided us through the ages into new beginnings and Brave New Worlds. Maybe Kubrick was try to tell us all something - that since we are all a part of the Big Bang still continuing - we will be ever expanding and human nature and nature as a whole will ever continue. It goes on. Life. The Universe. Because it’s all of us and we are it. 

YEAHH. This movie is a mindfuck. It’s beautiful. If only more movies could make us feel and realize the secrets of the universe like this film does. This is one of those movies that only comes along every 50 years or so. It’s up there with the films of Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Federico Fellini in its ability to cut deep into the mind and expose our very subconscious onto celluloid. What a cinematic masterpiece. 

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