2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

Saw this on 70mm film at the first weekend of the Hollywood Theatre in Portland showing films in this format since 1986, when projector parts mysteriously went missing and the venue fell into disrepair. I won't attempt to post a highfalutin letterboxd review of this masterpiece since that has been done and done and done again (as it should be), but instead I'll share a few details about the experience. First off, it wasn't quite the sublime experience I've found it to be in the past, through no fault of the film's, really, except that I noticed this time how disjointed it can be — particularly when it leaps from the demise of HAL to Dave's ultimate trip beyond the infinite.

I noticed how much Dave (Keir Dullea) resembles Ian Curtis (of Joy Division), particularly when his visage is awash in hues of cosmic light. I noticed something that had somehow never occurred to me before: a piece of music I primarily associate with Aliens was used here first. I noticed the tall dude sitting directly in front of me, not thinking to slouch a little in his seat so his big head wasn't aligned with the moon, sun, and earth during the film's opening sequence. I noticed the younger guy next to me incessantly shaking his leg as if silently tapping his foot, shaking his entire body, his seat, my seat, and therefore, shaking me (and this was sort of interesting when Dave was rocketing through space and time, but aside from that it was pretty annoying). I noticed myself laughing at things I never found particularly funny before, like HAL's eerily sedate pleading with Dave. I noticed the sense of, "Whoa, this is kind of historic" when the theatre's programmer asked if anyone had seen the film at the Hollywood during its original run in 1968 and several people raised their hands. There was a ton of excitement in the very packed house.

This was my first experience seeing 2001 in a theater at all, and I have to say that despite some annoyances it was pretty spectacular. While seeming more disjointed than it had before, it still uses its distinct acts to convey one of science fiction cinema's greatest myths. Its production and the technique of its filming are as meticulous and evocative as ever — perhaps at their finest during the Louis XVI room sequence, when we see perspectives shift from Dave to Dave to Dave. I'm still in love with the idea that the film is the black monolith, and it shows us this when we think we're seeing nothing at all.

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