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Sometimes reading the user comments on IMDB fills me with despair for the
species. For anybody to dismiss 2001: A Space Odyssey as "boring" they must
have no interest in science, technology, philosophy, history or the art of
film-making. Finally I understand why most Hollywood productions are so
shallow and vacuous - they understand their audience.
Thankfully, those that cannot appreciate Kubrick's accomplishment are still a minority. Most viewers are able to see the intelligence and sheer virtuosity that went into the making of this epic. This is the film that put the science in "science fiction", and its depiction of space travel and mankind's future remains unsurpassed to this day. It was so far ahead of its time that humanity still hasn't caught up.
2001 is primarily a technical film. The reason it is slow, and filled with minutae is because the aim was to realistically envision the future of technology (and the past, in the awe inspiring opening scenes). The film's greatest strength is in the details. Remember that when this film was made, man still hadn't made it out to the moon... but there it is in 2001, and that's just the start of the journey. To create such an incredibly detailed vision of the future that 35 years later it is still the best we have is beyond belief - I still can't work out how some of the shots were done. The film's only notable mistake was the optimism with which it predicted mankind's technological (and social) development. It is our shame that the year 2001 did not look like the film 2001, not Kubrick's.
Besides the incredible special effects, camera work and set design, Kubrick also presents the viewer with a lot of food for thought about what it means to be human, and where the human race is going. Yes, the ending is weird and hard to comprehend - but that's the nature of the future. Kubrick and Clarke have started the task of envisioning it, now it's up to the audience to continue. There's no neat resolution, no definitive full stop, because then the audience could stop thinking after the final reel. I know that's what most audiences seem to want these days, but Kubrick isn't going to let us off so lightly.
I'm glad to see that this film is in the IMDB top 100 films, and only wish that it were even higher. Stanley Kubrick is one of the very finest film-makers the world has known, and 2001 his finest accomplishment. 10/10.
For all those bewildered by the length and pace of this film ("like, why
does he show spaceships docking for, like, 15 minutes?"), here's a word you
might want to think about:
Beauty is an under-rated concept. Sure, you'll often see nice photography and so on in films. But when did you last see a film that contains beauty purely for the sake of it? There is a weird belief among cinemagoers that anything which is not plot or character related must be removed. This is depressing hogwash. There is nothing wrong with creating a beautiful sequence that has nothing to do with the film's plot. A director can show 15 minutes of spaceships for no reason than that they are beautiful, and it is neither illegal nor evil to do so.
'2001' requires you to watch in a different way than you normally watch films. It requires you to relax. It requires you to experience strange and beautiful images without feeling guilty that there is no complex plot or detailed characterization. Don't get me wrong, plots and characters are good, but they're not the be-all and end-all of everything. There are different KINDS of film, and to enjoy '2001' you must tune your brain to a different wavelength and succumb to the pleasure of beauty, PURE beauty, unfettered by the banal conventions of everyday films.
"All art is quite useless" - Oscar Wilde.
Instead of writing a paragraph, I'll give four good reasons why 2001 is the greatest cinema experience of all time: 1) It is a visual Odyssey that could only be told on the big screen. The special effects that won Kubrick his only Oscar are the most stunning effects before that age of Jurassic Park and T2. They allow Kubrick to give an accurate (or at least are the most accurate) depiction of space travel to date. The silence that fills the space scenes not only serves its purpose as accurate science, but also adds to the mood of the film (to be discussed in a later point with HAL). The fact that Kubrick shot the moon scenes before the Apollo landing is a gutsy yet fulfilling move. Many have said that upon its original release, it was a favorite "trip" movie. I can think of no other movie that has such amazing visuals for its time and even of all time (sorry Phantom Menace fans!) 2) Kubrick's directing style is terrific. As in all his films, Kubrick likes to use his camera as means to delve into the psychology of his characters and plots. His camera is not as mobile as other greats, such as Scorsese, but instead sits and watches the narrative unfold. Faces are the key element of a Kubrick film. Like classic movies, such as M and Touch of Evil, Kubrick focuses on the characters' faces to give the audience a psychological view-point. Even he uses extreme close-ups of HAL's glowing red "eye" to show the coldness and determination of the computerizd villain. I could go on, but in summation Kubrick is at the hieght of his style. 3) HAL 9000 is one of the most villainous characters in film history. I whole-heartedly agree with the late Gene Siskle's opinion of HAL 9000. Most of this film takes place in space. Through the use of silence and the darkness of space itself, a mood of isolation is created. Dave and his crewmen are isolated between earth and jupiter, with nowhere to escape. Combine this mood with the cold, calculated actions of HAL 9000 and you have the most fearful villain imaginable. I still, although having see this film several times, feel my chest tighten in a particular scene. 4) The controversial ending of 2001 always turns people away from this film. Instead of trying to give my opinion of the what it means and what my idea of 2001's meaning in general is, I'd like to discuss the fact that the ending serves to leave the movie open-ended. Kubrick has stated that he inteded to make 2001 open for discussion. He left its meaning in the hands of the viewer. By respecting the audience's intelligence, Kubrick allowed his movie to be the beginning, not the end, of a meaningful discussion on man's past, present, and future. The beauty of 2001 is that the ending need not mean anything deep, it can just be a purely plot driven explanation and the entire movie can be viewed as an entertaining journey through space. No other movie, save the great Citizen Kane, leaves itself open to discussion like 2001. It is truly meant to be a surreal journey that involves not only the eye but the mind. Instead of waiting in long lines for the Phantom Menace, rent a widescreen edition of 2001 and enjoy the greatest cinematic experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I did and I lost two and a half hours of my life that I can never
I honestly have no idea what the critics and fans see in this movie. And that's not because I can't appreciate "art". I love a good film with profound messages, brilliant cinematography, and great directing.
This film just isn't one of them.
My main complaint about this film is that it's so horribly slow-paced, to the point of boring its audience to death. On the other hand, sequences of dialog go by too quickly and there's not enough exposition to let people who haven't read the book know what's going on (My mother had mercy on me and explained everything before I watched it). Would it have killed them to hire a narrator? At least for the beginning and the end?
Let me break it down for you: (Spoilers throughout)
For the first two minutes you are treated to a black screen with no music, waiting for the actual movie to begin.
For the following minute and a half, you see several pictures of sunrises and savanna landscapes. Like the audience couldn't figure out how to set the scene unless they saw the establishing shot three or four times.
The next eleven minutes are occupied with the grunting monkeys. They fight, see the monolith, fight some more, pommel things with a bone. Supposedly they are prehistoric men whose evolution is being influenced by the monolith's singing. Not that you could tell if you hadn't read the book.
*Finally* we get into space. Only to be subjected to twelve minutes of ships slowly spinning to the Blue Danube Waltz (A pretty quick-tempo-ed waltz as I understand, yet here it feels absolutely agonizing). At last we get some innocuous dialog and rather cryptic exposition about the government not letting people land on the moon. We are left to wonder about this for fourteen more minutes of Blue Danube and spinning ships and neat camera tricks with anti-gravity.
Next comes four minutes of watching a ship travel over the surface of the moon and dock at a space station. We get a little more exposition in a board room scene that follows. Then we're back outside traveling at a snail's pace over the moon. A second monolith is revealed, again filling our ears with that horrible ringing (I had no idea that was an actual piece of music!). The monolith does its little light show and then the plot jumps forward.
*Seven* minutes of watching the ship to Jupiter travel. By this point in time my brains had turned into mush. Could it be moving any slower? Maybe it's "realistic" to portray it as such, but we still don't need to see five or six different shots of the same thing to grasp the concept of its "realism". Let me tell you about this "realism" thing; I cheered when the secondary astronaut character died. Not because I'm a sadist and like watching people die, but because after five minutes I was just so annoyed at the sound of his darn breathing! I'm supposed to care about this character, feel when he dies! Instead I found myself waiting for blissful silence whatever way it came.
Anyway, now we get to the most interesting part of the film-the part with HAL. Forget Dave the stick-of-wood protagonist. The real star of the show is that coldly impersonal, chillingly villainous, ruthlessly merciless bad guy of a computer. He's great. And the "Open the pod bay doors" sequence is wonderful. But it's too short. And it's not long before the director once again lapses into too-long goings on.
Four minutes for HAL to die. And die he does. Slowly, painfully, losing intelligence with every minute, voice getting lower and slower, singing "Daisy, Daisy", all with a low and constant hissing that becomes just as annoying as the heavy breathing.
Seven minutes of flying colors as Dave enters the monolith. Seven. I could FEEL my brains melting and dripping out of my ears! Seven full minutes of absolutely nothing but some guy's whacked out psychedelic version of space travel, again with that thrice-cursed chorus! We got the idea at the beginning of the sequence! Why drag it out so long? Unless he wanted to make LSD users go psychotic and have flashbacks.
I'm not even going to try to explain the ending, mostly because I don't quite get it myself. Supposedly he's in an alien research laboratory and they're teaching him deep and profound things while he watches himself getting older and older and then they send him back to earth as some kind of cosmic celestial space baby. None of this comes across in the film. For all you know, it's just a sequence of images with no purpose or plot whatsoever. A lot of the movie felt that way.
The first time I tried watching this movie I gave up halfway through. The second time I suffered through this sore excuse for a film, it was to help my sister time the sequences to see how long they lasted. It's that boring.
Call this crummy film "art" if you wish. I wouldn't. I've seen more interesting "art" in the local museum. And I am never subjecting myself to this kind of suffering ever again.
A review I have put off for far too long....
Bluntly, 2001 is one of the best science-fiction films made to date, if not the very best. Stanley Kubrick was a genius of a film maker and this is one of his very best works. And although it is misunderstood by many, and respectively underrated, it is considered one of the best films of all time and I'll have to agree. Back in 1968, no one had done anything like this before, and no one has since. It was a marvel of a special effects breakthrough back then, and seeing how the effects hold up today, it is no wonder as to why. The film still looks marvelous after almost forty years! Take note CGI people. Through the use of large miniatures and realistic lighting, Kubrick created some of the best special effects ever put on celluloid. This aspect alone almost single-handedly created the chilling void of the space atmosphere which is also attributed to the music and realistic sound effects. I can't think of another film where you can't here anything in space, like it is in reality. Not only is the absence of sound effects in space realistic, it is used cleverly as a tool to establish mood, and it works flawlessly.
Aside from the magnificent display of ingenious special effects, there are other factors that play a part in establishing the feel of the film. The music played, all classical, compliment what the eyes are seeing and make you feel the significance of man's journey through his evolution from ape to space traveler.
The story, while seemingly simple, is profound. Sequentially, several mysterious black monoliths are discovered and basically trigger certain events integral to the film. What are they? Where did they come from? What do they do? These are all questions one asks oneself while watching the story develop and is asked to find his own way. While most come away with a general idea of what took place in the story, each individual will have to decide what it means to them. Any way one decides to answer these question results in profound solutions. It's not left entirely up to interpretation, but in some aspects it is. Experience it for more clarification. The end result is quite chilling, no matter your personal solution.
While it is a long film, and sometimes slows down, it has to be in order to accurately portray the journey of man. It's not a subject that would have faired well in a shorter film, faster paced feature. Those with short attention spans need not apply.
Last but not least, is the epitome of a remorseless antagonist, HAL 9000, the computer. Never has a machine held such a chilling screen presence. Which reminds me, for a film with such profound ambition and execution, there is surprisingly little dialogue. Another sign of Kubrick's genius.
All in all, one of the best films made to date and one of the very best science fiction films made. A personal favorite. Everyone must see this film at least once.
Very highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
2001 is one of those movies where, if you don't like it, you are told
that you don't 'get it' and need to look at the deeper meaning and
symbolism. You're told that you clearly have a slow attention span, and
just want to see sex, explosions, and have the plot handed to you on a
Let's break down the movie shall we? Three minutes of blackness, with something that sounds like a dying hippo in the background. Then we get the opening credits. A minute of fascinating shots of the Savannah. Then a bunch of monkeys find a black rock and start killing things with bones. Cut to the first of many 20-minute shots of ships doing things while the 'Blue Danube' plays in the background. A bunch of pointless dialogue, and a group of moon scientists find another monolith.
Cut to a spaceship that's too long for the crew complement--three sleeping people, two people named Dave and Frank, who have only slightly more personality than the stiffs in hibernation. And then there's HAL, the 'perfect' supercomputer who runs the ship. Predictably, he snaps and starts breaking the First Law of Robotics. Now this is something that has potential. An evil, coldly ruthless super-mind who controls the surrounding environment and can predict your every move. And what does he do? He lets one guy float into space and turns off the hibernation machines so the three sleeping guys die, leaving Dave floating in a pod. He simply uses the airlock, puts on a spacesuit, and turns HAL off--agonizingly slowly. Then, apparently, there's some psychedelic 'evolution' at Jupiter.
Here's the movie with the pauses taken out: Apes see monolith, kill things. Scientists find moon monolith. HAL kills people. HAL dies; Dave gets a prerecorded message, and evolves at Jupiter.
This is not me 'not getting it.' This is me being bored to tears by long stretches of absolutely nothing. Sure, it's realistic, but I find I have no reason to care. No matter the message, no movie can be good without being entertaining. Frankly, every character could be replaced with Keanu Reeves, and nothing would change.
I spent many a sleepless night after watching 2001. Not only because of the
psychological horror (of which 2001 is a masterpiece) but also because of
the way it brought me (a restless soul) some clarity to the way I observe
the universe. It changed my way of thinking in a very profound way. And
after reading the novel (by Arthur C. Clarke) I found myself once again
inspired (a writer as I am) by the level of imagination.
The Space Odyssey is not something one can just "go and see". One has to be ready for it, or it cannot be understood. In fact I don't think it can be understood at all, at least not all of it at once. It is a philosophical journey to the infinite and beyond, a masterpiece of it's genre and still after 32 years technically quite impressive all the way to the powerful musical soundtrack featuring 'Also spracht Zarathustra' by Richard Strauss and 'Blue Danube' by Johann Strauss.
Take all the time you want, but eventually you are going to have to see this film. If it can bring some order and understanding to the universe of a struggling artist like me, it can certainly do it for you as well.
Or maybe I'm just plain crazy...
I write this review just after hearing of Stanley Kubrick's death. It's
a great loss, and I write about 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, because I feel
it is the consummate Kubrick film, the one he will be most remembered
for. It is a picture like no other, not only revolutionizing science
fiction, but changing the way films are conceptualized. It was probably
America's first 'art' film and has inspired the likes of George Lucas
and countless other writers and directors.
Aside from its visual greatness, the reason the film spawns so much discussion and analysis is because so many people have so many different interpretations of it. Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, his co-writer, had a vision, but we have never really found out what was going through their minds. Of course, the skinny on its 'message' is how technology of the future will take over humanity and decide the course of our lives unless we are careful. 2001's ending is one of hope, a version of our rebirth through the star-child's flight back to earth. It is meaningless to many, but discerning filmgoers will understand.
Although 2001 does not have the wicked, dark humor of DR. STRANGELOVE or CLOCKWORK ORANGE, or contain strong, eccentric characters that filled his earlier works like PATHS OF GLORY or SPARTACUS, I still feel he would've liked to be remembered most for this. If anything, HAL will be his most memorable character, dangerous, murderous, and artificial. It was a half-decade in the making at a time when Hollywood was still churning out dull musicals and just waking up to the New Wave of French and Italian cinema. Kubrick was a maverick director who made great films on his own terms, his own time, and for everyone else to marvel at. He will be missed.
Mankind's Self awakening is the theme of "2001: A Space Odyssey", a
process that unfolds along a space-time continuum. We "see" our
primordial past, and we "infer" a cosmic future. The powers of
intuition thus become the doors of perception, in our ongoing
From this transcendental perspective, a conventional, egocentric plot seems superfluous. Our frenzied conflicts and self-important dialogue are consumed in evolutionary change, and are irrelevant in a cosmos that is vast beyond comprehension. It's a tough lesson for a vain and aggressive species. Not surprising then that some of us huff and puff about the film's slowness and minimal story. For perceptive viewers, the remuneration is an inspirational sense of wonder and awe.
In this film, which is mostly visual, geometric symbols guide our intuition. Circles and arcs represent nature. Right angles represent conscious intelligence. Some people think the sleek, black monolith is a Von Neumann probe. Maybe. Without doubt, the monolith is a visual metaphor for an extraterrestrial intelligence whose physical form is never shown. Mystery is more profound than explanation.
"2001 ... " is unique among films in content and scope. The cinematography is out-of-this-world, the special and visual effects are breathtaking, and the classical music is sublime. I rarely use the word "masterpiece" to describe a movie. But Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is art in the highest sense, like Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa", or Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night".
This movie is certainly one of the greatest films ever made. It is a story
told in a steady pace, told mostly not by words but by cinematic means of
expression. Perfect blend of spectacular special effects and classical
bring to life creations of human imagination in both realistic and
way. The story itself is quite simple at a first glance. As the title
implies, there is an archetypal journey, a motive repeated for thousands
years. This motive was always used not only to depict a trip in space and
time, and beyond, but also had rich philosophic meaning. The film is a
poetical contemplation of most exciting eternal questions. It is not just
odyssey of a person; it is an odyssey of our species. The film is great by
itself, yet, in my case, the impression from it will always be mingled
that from the book. I've read it at the age of 10, really not thinking
problems like 'what is the relationship between evolution of humankind and
development of human morality'. But the impression was great enough to
me fall for entire genre of science fiction.
The day I learned '2001' got only special effects Oscar and was not even nominated for the Best Picture was the day when 'Academy Award' completely became two words meaning nothing to me.
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