Tyler Duswalt’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you.”
A stunning spectacle of sights and sounds, a monumental vision executed to essential perfection, a powerful pursuit to tackle life’s hardest questions: 2001: A Space Odyssey one of the most rewarding cinematic experiences I’ve encountered. Widely considered to be the pioneer of modern sci-fi, the film’s incredible ambition is matched only by its presentation. Stanley Kubrick’s mastery of the medium shines on all fronts here: his perfectionism elevates every technical aspect to the grandest heights, his recurring themes of dehumanization and the nature of man call for substantial introspection, and his ability to tell a story solely through visuals allows for this journey through the stars to flourish in ways never before thought to be possible.
The film contains some of the most striking images ever put to film: the Monolith aligning with the sun, a spacecraft spinning to the ever-graceful “Blue Danube,” a transcendental hallway of light patterns. Kubrick’s confidence cannot be understated, either. Between the opening minutes of darkness and the grand Overture, to a built-in intermission and the wonderfully prolonged Stargate sequence, this film is bold beyond comprehension. So much is accomplished in very few shots, and it’s a testament to the remarkable editing. The power of a single shot is something Kubrick understands and implements with a masterful touch: but long takes, swift camera movements, and the resulting slower pace wouldn’t hold their charm if it weren’t for consistently gorgeous composition. His form is something I personally adore, and this film is a beautiful culmination of his style and brilliance: arguably the peak.
Never before has a film burrowed its way into my mind for so long. It begs for its viewers to face its mysteries and complexities head-on. Rather than characters simply covering philosophical ground through dialogue, Kubrick and Clarke’s screenplay point to high-concept themes by means of the overarching sequence of events and characters’ mannerisms. Many details such as the banality of human conversation raise questions of whether or not man will continually degrade into the primal state from whence he came. But the film captures a surprisingly optimistic idea: that man does have somewhere to go after we’ve reached the supposed Final Frontier. The film’s three sections all end with some form of enlightenment, signs of man’s rising insight. It’s a definite must-see for the timeless visuals and the contribution to contemporary sci-fi, and yet the film holds immense value past its impressive exterior. 2001: A Space Odyssey’s legacy is immortal; for me, nothing else within the genre encapsulates such an extraordinary sense of grandeur.
On a personal note, this is my current favorite film from my all-time favorite filmmaker. The notion of posting a cohesive review for a Kubrick film has been daunting as a result, but I hope my words have done my feelings some justice.