2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

Awesome, influential, mind-blowing, cool, obsessional, pretentious - '2001: A Space Odyssey' is all of these. That it is both great and claptrap remains fascinating. Certainly, it deviates from Stanley Kubrick's claimed intention to make a 'proverbial good science-fiction movie', as it defies genre and is unlike any science-fiction film before it, good or god-awful.

'2001' is strewn with unforgettable images - the stunning and now oft-parodied cut from a bone (wielded by ape-man as a weapon and tossed aloft) to a satellite that condenses eons of time into a millisecond; the alignment of sun and moon above the rim of the monolith; the docking shuttle and space station's orbital waltz; the circular crew habitat of the Discovery (made an actuality in the space shuttle program).

The musical motifs (Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra, Johann Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz) will forever bring the film to mind, and snippets of its minimalist dialogue ("Open the pod bay doors, Hal", "See you next Wednesday", "Good morning, Dave") pop up in homages and cultural references left, right and center, but they still have sensational power enjoyed in their 'Space Odyssey' context.

Whether you read this film as a mysterious adventure, a symbolic sermon or a mystic vision, one haunting conclusion is inescapable - how disappointing that it is '2001' and we're still tribal apes enthralled by technology, a very long way from becoming children of the stars. Whatever secret if any —lies at the heart of '2001', certain things are beyond question - it is a work of considerable genius and an unerringly satisfying, utterly unique cinematic experience.

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