2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½

2001: A Space Odyssey is the type of film I should be watching more and be more open to. I’m not ashamed to have immediately gone to an “Ending Explained” video but otherwise, the point is that I was already satisfied when I saw the opening to the video: this was made to evoke - to ask rather than answer. I like that. This movie is sci-fi cinema at its undeniable peak, and even though I’m not into it as an absolute favorite (my top sci-fi pick goes to The Empire Strikes Back at the moment) I don’t think there’s a possibility to overstate how technically profound this artwork is. 

Every single shot is astounding. 2001 really makes me question how Kubrick was able to pull these frames off. How to perfectly execute the scale, the motion, the colors. There is nothing like it out there. This is probably the grandest use of practical effects I’ve ever seen. The spectacle of the production falls in line with the strict, stoic construction of Kubrick’s craft. All of the interior designs in the space crafts are symmetrically flawless and technically awe-inspiring - people are out here walking upside-down and centrifugally in incredible revolving set pieces.  

The score is recognizable right from the beginning - it had me question whether or not the soundtrack was even original since I felt like I heard the songs numerous times before. Numbers I’d heard of but never knew the name. I recognized them from Greg Daniels’ Space Force and likely others. (Edit: I’m an idiot these were selected classical works from the soundtrack. Disregard the past few sentences. My point about the music’s greatness still stands though.)
And the sound design. Holy shit. The use of silence to create tension is brilliant, as well as the use of ambient noises (breathing, machines) or just full-blown pressure from the sound effects. 

The patient storytelling and music/sound choices heavily reminded me of Terrence Malick’s 2011 drama The Tree of Life

I kind of wish the narrative got moving sooner but that comes down to personal preference. When things got going I thought this was only a simple flick on the advancement of technology (with the immediate influence on Pixar’s WALL•E) until it got so much bigger than that in the very weird ending. There’s ideas there with age and the passage of time paired between humanity itself and Dave. I’ll have to ponder/revisit in order to expand on that though. 

Overall, this film is scarily perfect. The tedious sequence of the shots, the exchanges and delivery in the monotonous dialogue, the precise sound mixing: it all combines into 2001’s rigid construction that sheds its humanity in the profound but deeply ambiguous material. I find it fitting I’m watching this after the very similar monolith disappeared. I might bump this up to a ten but I’ll let it rest for now. 

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. 9/10. 

To end off here’s my favorite scene and some of my favorite shots, since this movie fucking earned it:

This scene was definitely the highlight, and this shot, this shot, this shot, this shot, and pretty much everything in between is unmatched.