2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½


"2001: A Space Odyssey" is not one of Kubrick's films that I frequently revisit. It's one of those movies that I need an excuse to see again. Whether I had never seen it before, for a film school assignment, or to view it in higher quality. In this case, it was in part because of the latter, but also I had paid for the 4K version with added content on iTunes, something I did recently and is the first film I've purchased in nearly a decade.

And a lot can be said about this film, especially watching all this fascinating footage and listening to all the behind the scenes material, but I'm aware that hardly many of you even read my reviews from start to finish, so why bother?

Anyway, something that really struck me on this occasion was the fact that I was able to sympathize with HAL by seeing it from a position where this machine is not precisely an evil character attempting to exterminate the human being, but a machine that has acquired a consciousness and a sense of self and being that turns all of its acts not so much into cold and calculated killings, but rather that of someone trying to prevent himself from being murdered. So, in a sense, all HAL activities are self-defense. This fits in neatly with the now-iconic opening at the dawn of mankind, and the bone takes on a whole new significance. The bone, as we saw earlier, was a destructive tool. One may interpret this as the monkey being HAL and the technology being the bone, but to me, the monkey is the human being and how he employs the same technology to destroy, and if technology becomes an obstacle of what this human believes to be his own survival, the human being will not hesitate to end someone's life. This applies not only to interactions between humans and machines, but between ourselves. To top it all off, as hypocritical and evil beings, we fabricate stories to excuse our henious acts, the social and personal trainwrecks for which we are solely responsible. It is not a matter of left, right, or center. It's "your" problem. And "your" knows no political parties, views, orientations, social, socioeconomic, birth status, or walks of life. It's as if the human being is a terrible god, and HAL is the human being who is in risk of being annihilated by his creator at the first mistake.

Leaving my rather reductionist thoughts on complex matter behind, it is worth mentioning the film's influence on cinema, elevating the scifi genre from something practically on the same level as cartoons, childish and inconsequential, and opening the door for profound themes to be explored. It also presented us to numerous concepts and glimpses of technological advances in society and movies. The way he recorded the video displays using a projector (yes, neither Kubrick nor his team created tablets) or the amazing method in which we see in the distance the bottom of this tunnel spinning around and they go into it, but as our two leads reach the spinning bottom, this stops spinning but you see it still spinning, but what was spinning was the wider tunnel. It's a little detail, but it illustrates how Stanley became practically a magician with this picture; he was producing as much of a movie as he was making science.

All in all, first of all, if you read this far thank you very much and I hope you enjoyed my thoughts. This is a picture that requires patience, yet it is technically stunning; it should be regarded not as a science fiction film, but as a visual narrative, a visual poetry, a visual exercise in filmmaking miracle, and a visual exercise in science.

2001: A Space Odyssey
2010: The Year We Make Contact
Extreme Prejudice
Smiling Friends

Rafael liked these reviews