2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Full disclosure:

I finished this movie when I got up this morning. I tried, really I tried, to stay up and finish it last night, but I had just taken pain killers and really, I challenge anyone to stay awake during certain parts of this film when they are fighting the somnolent effects of medication. Segments of this film are such a wonderful collection of background noise and music they acted like a lullaby for me and I wasn't going to fight it.

It's been a while since I paid a visit to Hal and Dave and poor Dr. Poole. It's been too long since I listened to The Blue Danube while watching a pen float through the air. The movie is magical for me. Why do I like it so much? Probably because it focuses on the minutiae of space travel. There are many shots of people eating food and ships traveling, there are instructions on how to use a zero-gravity toilet (which I need to hunt down for curiosity), there are phone calls made and recordings listened to. When put to Strauss it all does feel like a dance, but it is also a collection of the mundane. And in no movie have I ever been so transfixed by the mundane. Police, Adjective eat your heart out.

Of course there is an overarching plot, there are philosophical questions that work their way to the surface at different times. This is a movie that allows you the time and space (perhaps pun intended) to think, but it doesn't demand it of you. When I first saw the film decades ago I loved it, but there was no way I understood it. Maybe I don't understand it now, though I think I do, or at least have tricked myself into thinking I have a better grasp of it. But I could honestly care less about gaining an understanding of this film. What it does for me is fill me with wonder. And that is no small feat.

The plot here feels of such secondary importance, that you are almost shocked when it crops up. It's there, and it drives the narrative, but not desperately like other grand sci-fi films. I quite liked Interstellar but there was no real time for wonder, no significant moments of reflection. It was plot, plot, plot. It is a different type of movie from 2001. They are apples and oranges. Wall-E actually comes the closest for me in feeling to 2001, at least the opening third of it where Wall-E explores his wasteland and goes about his daily routine. I often wonder watching a sci-fi film what normal life is like in the world of the film. 2001 gives me some of that. And I love it.

What is the film about? If you were to say that a giant space brick mates with a human male to create a new species, I would say maybe you're right. (At least the space baby has Dave's eyes). Honestly it doesn't matter to me, because this is a film where my ideas shift and change, and yes, evolve with each viewing. It may have put me to sleep last night, but I assure you it is no fault of the film's.

If anything, I must attribute it to human error.

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