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Undeniably bold, ambitious, and daring, Stanley Kubrick's galactic opera 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY initially divided both critics and audiences but has since earned a place in film history as one of cinema's greatest achievements.
In many ways, the film is deserving of that spot. The use of classical music (sparsely; there are lengthy scenes where there are no music) is one of its greatest assets, and the rich cinematography brings out the detail in every shot. The special effects also deserve a shout-out. Even for being made in 1969, they still look fantastic today, particularly the miniature shots of a spacecraft landing on the moon. The extensive "journey of the mind" scene toward the end, a literal kaleidoscope of rushing lights, color, and positive/negative imagery, is also mind-blowing. Dialogue is used rather sparingly, too; we never hear a line uttered until about 25 minutes into the picture, and the last quarter is completely silent. Then there are the fateful scenes between astronauts David Bowman, Frank Poole, and their computer "companion", HAL 9000 (voiced by an amusingly appropriate deadpan baritone named Douglas Rain), which is the stuff of great drama and tension.
The film doesn't follow a particular story arc either; it's just four sections of different scenarios which are somehow "linked" by a mysterious monolith that appears out of nowhere. The film intentionally spares viewers information about said monolith, instead allowing the visuals to provide an interpretation.
On the flip side, though, 2001 may not be for everyone because the film features literally no face-paced action. It moves at an EXTREMELY languid pace, which, if you are the impatient type, may prove to be tough to sit through. The film's seemingly disconnected four acts also causes the structure of the movie to feel disjointed. After a powerful, tympani-crashing overture via "Also Sprach Zarathustra", we are transported first to a barren landscape of apes who grunt, bound, and smash bones across the screen with manic glee. After about twenty minutes of this, we go from an animal bone flying in midair to a space station orbiting the moon (set, rather ingeniously, to the strains of Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube"). This is followed by the longest sequence in the movie — the scenes aboard the ship Discovery. Although these three stories don't seem to have any major link to the narrative, this latter thread, which involves topics like human (and machinery!) error, suspicion, betrayal, murder, and sacrifice is arguably the "meatiest" of the three, mainly because its impact is arguably stronger than the preceding two acts. After wrapping itself up, we are then "treated" to an extremely long finale that defies explanation. After a seemingly never-ending flight through the aforementioned dazzling lights of colors we find ourselves in what appears to be the room of an elegant mansion. But is it REALLY our time? The exotic, alienesque grunts of György Ligeti's experimental "Adventures" implies that it could very well be an "extra-terrestrial"'s "prison." Again, however, we are given no explanation, instead being "asked" to make the conclusion ourselves.
All of this makes 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY difficult to recommend to a casual viewer who would typically go after something "mainstream," but having said it still is mandatory viewing for cinema enthusiasts, because its strong parts are very creative and unlike anything we'll ever see in the movies again. Its technical credits across the board are top-notch, the performances by everyone involved are well done, and as mentioned, the music is fantastic and put to great use. The fact that it's experimental and different than what you might expect also makes it stand out. Note, however, that it takes an extreme amount of patience to sit through this movie.
2001: A Space Odyssey was co-written by director Stanley Kubrick with Arthur C Clarke and released in 1968. The picture was not lavished with praise upon its initial release (the glacial pace and cryptic approach of Kubrick frustrated many) but is now regarded to be one of the greatest films ever made. This is a film of mythic grandeur and visual wonder and it may be the director's magnum opus. The genesis of the project began in the early sixties when Kubrick decided he wanted to make the ultimate science fiction film. He was advised that the greatest authority on the subject was the British writer Arthur C Clarke and so sought him out - the pair meeting in New York in 1964 where Kubrick outlined his plan to make an epic film about man's relationship to the stars. An arthouse space film rather than one with aliens in rubber suits, flying saucers and death rays. Kubrick was particularly interested in the Clarke's 1954 novel Childhood's End which had the evolution of mankind shaped by extraterrestrials who usher humanity towards its destiny exploring the vast expanse of space. The rights to Childhood's End resided elsewhere but Clarke felt his 1948 story Sentinel of Eternity was similar in many ways and could form the basis of Kubrick's film. Sentinel of Eternity was about the discovery of a mysterious structure on the lunar surface which has been left by a higher form of intelligence as a sort of alarm to alert them to the fact that mankind is ready for the stars. The human race are gods in waiting.
The core themes of Sentinel of Eternity would feature heavily in the first and last sections of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is split into four different sections - The Dawn of Man, TMA-1, Jupiter Mission and Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite. It begins memorably in prehistoric times (this section only runs for about 15 minutes) with ape like people in the African desert dodging leopards and fighting amongst themselves. Sort of One Million Years B.C meets Planet of the Apes but shot with striking visual skill (Moon, Earth, Sun) by Kubrick and benefiting from some good make-up work. The apes discover a mysterious black monolith (clearly left by a higher intelligence from beyond the stars) like a giant rectangular stone rising from the dust which triggers one of them to pick up a bone to use as a weapon and tool. It may not seem much but mankind has made an evolutionary leap. In one of the most famous jump-cuts in cinema, the bone is thrown into the air and becomes a space station as we are plunged thousands of years into the future where it is now AD2001. Although the film was made in the 1960s, the beautiful space sequences have not appreciably dated and have a resonant timeless quality. Kubrick famously eschewed a conventional score and made of use of Johann Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz and Richard Strauss' Also Spoke Zarathustra. It is impossible not to hear this music now and not immediately think of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The romantic music set against the cold technological virtuosity highlights the paradoxical and ambiguous nature of the film.
The oblique Kubrick is more interested in posing questions than answering them and the mysterious monolith that appears through points in mankind's history to be contemplated is almost like the ultimate metaphor for what the film is about. How insignificant we are in relation to the unimaginable vastness of the universe and how little we understand. The bone becoming a space a station seems to suggest that even with technology we are still at a primitive stage of our development. This is a painstakingly realistic depiction of space exploration compared to most science fiction films. In Star Trek they zip across the universe in the blink of an eye but in 2001 everything is laborious and slow. Working in space here doesn't seem terribly exciting at times and I like the way it's almost conveyed in a very comfortable domestic way at times. Life on the space station seems like being a corporate headquarters rather than the Starship Enterprise. When the action moves farther into space the sense of loneliness and distance is more pronounced. There are no space shuttle stewardesses to give you a futuristic dinner to suck through a straw and a quick call home is now all but impossible. One of the most notable things Kubrick does is make the space sequences occur in silence apart from the classical strains of music that stir now and again. This of course is scientifically accurate because (ahem) in space no one can hear you scream. Other science fictions films (understandably) ignore the silence of the vacuum of space for sound effects.
An interesting thing about the film I think is the absence of famous actors. If anything, the cast are rather bland but maybe that was the point. There are no Hollywood stars or over eager performers to detract from the hypnotic stillness and cold beauty of the film. The most memorable character in the film is actually the malfunctioning HAL 9000 computer (voiced of Douglas Rain) that controls the space ship Discovery in the third section. This is the longest part of the film and concerns the attempt by astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) and their crew to discover why the monolith found on the Moon in the second portion of the film has sent a signal to one of the moons of Jupiter. Hal is having the computer version of a nervous breakdown though and will become a great danger to the crew. Hal's voice and omnipresent red dot eye makes him one of the most famous electronic entities in cinema and he's actually the most human character in the film in many ways. Inquisitive, prone to error, even becoming scared. "Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you."
There is a great scene where Bowman and Poole confer in an air lock in secret about Hal and we quickly gather that the computer is lip reading everything they say. William Sylvester as Dr Heywood Floyd is also rather bland in the second segment but almost to the benefit of the film again. You do though get an appearance by Leonard ("Miss Jones!") Rossiter as a Russian scientist. The lunar section (TMA-1 - "Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One") and the discovery of the monolith on the Moon is very atmospheric. I love the kaleidoscopic trippy journey through inner space and the fabric of time in the last section too. 2001: A Space Odyssey is obviously going to be too lackadaisical (this film requires an attention span) and oblique for some viewers but it remains a wondrous far out experience for those who have the patience to stick with it. Douglas Trumbell's painstaking years in the making special effects still hold up well and one only has to look at the (inferior) likes of Contact, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Contact, The Abyss, 2010 etc to see just how influential this film has become in the decades since its release. Ultimately, the only real flaw is that 2001: A Space Odyssey was intended to be seen on a cinema screen and a television can never quite do it justice.
You can buy this for under a fiver with a trailer, commentary by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, 1966 Interview with Stanley Kubrick ,2001: The Making of a Myth (Channel 4 documentary) and five more features - The Legacy of 2001, Kubrick's view of the future, Special Effects and early conceptual artwork, and Space and beyond.
FILM ONLY REVIEW
At the start of the film we are witnessing the birth of man and who they came to be, what we watch is how they find a strange object in the Earth and what effects it has on them. We then move to thousands of years later when space travel is the norm. A Doctor is travelling to the moon on a mission to see what they have discovered. They too find a strange object with powers and different abilities.
Later we see a new mission travelling Jupiter, this shuttle has the high powered computer HAL helping the crew member on their way. HAL is intelligent and tries to control the mission but the crew member get wise to this. Just what will the crew find on Jupiter if indeed they get there and what is the significance of the objects they have already found?
I have to say I have found it very hard trying to write a plot summery for this film as it found it a very strange film indeed and I felt there was a complete lack of story and it was all very disjointed. The few little stories we had were very poorly told and I just could not follow them and to top all this off the ending was absolutely rubbish and both me and hubby had no idea just what was going on.
We did have a few actors in the film but none of them really made a stand out performance. They all came across as wooden. Some of the actors included, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester and Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL. I felt they did not know where they wanted to take their characters and they gave the impression of reading their lines from the scenery. They were trying to give the impression of being in space and having to walk wearing gravity boots but they made this look awful and they all looked like they have had an accident in their pants and as a result had to walk this way. None of the characters really stood out to me and they were all pretty weak and poor. We never got to see any of them develop as we did not get to know much about them or their past and for me this was disappointing.
This is a very old film and due to this fact the special effects were pretty awful. I suppose they would have looked amazing in 1968 when this film first came out but they would not stand up to even the worst film of modern times. We had a lot of space scenes and they were not the worst effects of the film but they seemed very cheap. The appearance of the space rockets was poor and I am sure there were a few times when I spotted a small piece of wire moving them. The appearance of the planets was quite good and I liked how old they looked compared to the images we have today. The sets were also quite cheaply made and I could not work out what effect they were going for. I imagine from the title of the film they were trying to make them look futuristic but the overall feel which both me and hubby got from them was from the 1960's.
I had to laugh at some of the costumes, the women looked like they were wearing mushrooms on their heads and it just looked daft, this did give us both a chuckle though. The space suits also looked strange and slightly out of place. The crew did not manage to get the effects right with the appearance of living and walking on a spinning ship. The tried hard but it just did not happen and they slowness they gave was very dull and off putting. The whole film seemed to move so slowly. We got a shot of a ship moving towards the moon and it lasted fro a good 15 minutes, I did at this point go for a cigarette and when I returned it had still not got any closer. I felt this was overly played and this did happen a lot throughout the film. The length of the film could have been reduced to half an hour if these scenes would have been speeded up and maybe I would not have lost interest so much if this had been the case.
The soundtrack for the film was the best part and I found it to be excellent. The music was all orchestral and very powerful. All of the songs used seemed to be known by me already and I was able to place some of them in other shows I had heard them in. The only problem with the soundtrack was that it did not seem to fit. We would have a lovely orchestral piece playing and I could imagine people dancing around on stage to it and not the boring space ship travelling through space that we got. I think this was very badly placed in the film and it happened a lot. There was one track which we heard a few times in the film and I felt it was a good choice and fitted in well. I think the sound track sometimes did help add to the drama of what we were seeing.
I have to talk about the end of the film, I don't feel I will be giving anything away by doing so as I have no idea what actually happened. It seemed to go so far fetched and unbelievable. We felt there was no story to the end and this was no really very surprising considering the story throughout the film. If anyone does know what the ending was all about then please do feel free to message me and let me know.
I am only reviewing the film so there are no bonus features to speak about. The running time of the film is a whopping 141 minutes and I felt this was way too long and everything seemed so drawn out. The rate is a U but I don't think children would enjoy this film as there is no real story and they will not be able to work out what is happening. The film can be bought on DVD for just a few pounds but I would advise against wasting money on it.
I am not able to give this film a recommendation and I can only give it 2 stars. I have given both of these stars for the soundtrack although the majority of it did not fit the film. I really would recommend spending your time either watching the grass grow or paint drying instead of watching this film.
Based on a book wrote in 1948 called The Sentinel
Its basically a story about the evolution of man, starting off the film with a group of chimps.A strange black monolith,is the discovered by the chimps, and although scared at first soon start to touch and investigate this strange entity.This almost give the chimps they need to start evolution.Not long after it has landed the chimps soon start to use bones of dead animals ass both weapons and tools protecting their territory from rival chimp parties.
The next scene you see is set in the year 2000, when another monolith is found on the moon,Humans are already inhabited on the moon and it is discovered on a dig.A top scientist is then sent to the moon to help discover what its actual purpose is.Upon his arrival he briefs the team stating that the utmost secrecy is to be withheld at all times.The team are then led to the monolith and upon nearing it , it starts to emit a high pitched radio signal causing the crew great distress.
The next chapter Jupiter mission is set 18 months after the discovery of the moon monolith.A small crew is on there way to Jupiter, with them is the most sophisticated computer known to man,the very best in artificial intelligence.Also known as HAL-9000.The computer however starts to jepordise the mission, I'm not going to tell you how as it may ruin this part of the film for you.
The final part of the film is linked into the third part,erm what to describe basically one of the crew members finds another time and dimension,maybe set in to future I'm not really sure.You are simply taken on a journey in this final part of the film.
Right so the plot line does not really sound to interesting or complex, this film however is not really about the story line.I have never seen anything like it before in my life.For the first half hour there is no dialogue, you simple get absorbed into the stunning visuals and soundtrack.There is under 40 minutes of spoke dialogue throughout the whole film.The only way i can describe it is visually poetic.Its not just a film it is a work of art a stroke of genius from Stanley Kubrick.
The sheer attention to detail throughout the film is incredible,every little detail is covered nothing is skipped.This was what continuously astounded me about the film.
WOW,that is all i can say considering it was made in the 60's it is truly incredible what is achieved in the film.No cgi which is a plus as everything is real.The spaceships are incredibly designed and whoever designed them really must have had fun in doing so.From the stunning opening sequences at the dawn of time to the amazing line up of the planets in space , i was not ceased to be amazed non stop throughout the whole film. Everything throughout the film was based on models running on tracks, and it looks alot better then many of today's million pound releases.Kubrick clearly cut no corners,as a 30 tonne Ferris wheel was built specifically for the on-board craft shots,the scene with the crew member running around the ship truly was like nothing i have ever seen before.The space travel scenes were filmed using Slit-scan photography.And it truly leaves you with a sense of travelling through space.The scene with the spaceships docking is also extremely visually stimulating.
The film is set around a classical soundtrack this is perfect for what the film is about.The music plays such a key element throughout the film due to the lack of dialogue.It simple compliments the film in such a perfect way, this coupled with the visual is what makes this film a piece of art.Again the scene with the docking spaceship with the classical music in the background is what takes the film to a whole new level i was simple absorbed by it.
I picked up on quite a few things throughout the film, which I'm sure many others have,the only character that shows emotion throughout the whole film is the computer.Its like Kubrick was trying to toy the viewer into thinking the evolution of humans had gone so far they had pretty much made themselves redundant and surplus to requirements.
It's quite possibly the most incredible piece of film i have ever seen.You do have to be in the mood to watch it however, do not try to watch it if you want a nice relaxing evening.The amount of things that went through my head during and after the film was immense and I've never got an experience like this from a film before.Its also quite a long film clocking in at 2hrs and 20 minutes.
I rented this film but I will now be purchasing it, it is available from Amazon for about £5. Believe me buy this film it will be the best £5 you have ever spent.
Since it's release way back in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick has become a world famous cult classic amongst it's followers. It revolves around an extrterrestrial artifact that triggers off and monitors key stages of one man's journey from ape to child.
At the dawn of man a mysterious monolith is the catalyst for an evolutionary leap in primates. They go from scavenger to hunter, weilding tools. Many millions of years later a monolith uncovered by a geographical team on the moon sends an alarming radio signal towards Jupiter.
A manned expedition to investigate what is happening is sabotaged by the ship's disturbed computer on board the Spaceship Discovery. Surviving this sabotage one of the astronauts played by Keir Dullea is hurtled through a gateway of stars and through time and space. Eventually he ends up ageing, dieing and being reborn in a new phase of existence.
The movie itself is a bewildering affair really and I have to admit I was confused for large parts of it which maybe gives it it's appeal as it's not straightforward or predictable. The whole first half hour of the movie there is no dilalogue at all as we watch apes gather round this monolith and beat it with bones they have gathered.
Visually this movie is stunning and the special effects are a dazzling mix of imagination and science.
For me this movie was really quite a mysterious adventure into the unknown or perhaps a vision of what the future might be. Whatever you take from it, it is well worth watching to see what you make of the whole evolution ideas in the movie. It will get you thinking as I did about heaven and earth and the infinity that is out there in space and time, undiscovered by humans.
note: also appears on The Student Room and Flixster in part
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most divisive films of all time - it is hailed by some as an artistic, philosophical triumph, and by others as an art farty piece of pretentious twaddle. I don't sit on either side of the argument massively - it has its plusses and its minusses, but this is an artistically realised film with impressive direction, an almost hypnotic pace, and some intriguing philosophical questions about humanity.
It's a film that's not particularly easy to summarise, because it's more an experience than anything else - it's got some entrancing visuals and expert use of music. The plot concerns evolution of the apes to humans, with the film opening with the apes discovering a monolith, and then flashing forward a huge amount of time to the present, where things take place onboard a spaceship and a crew are forced to contend with a computer named HAL that seems to have taken on a "mind" of its own, and perhaps hints towards the latest step in evolution. Meanwhile, the humans attempt to both stay alive and keep the definitions of what it means to be human by stopping this monstrosity.
What I cannot deny despite its slow pace and inaccessible approach, it is extremely well made - the visuals are astounding, and the cinematography is amazing. It has also stood the test of time extremely well, given it's now over 40 years old, and has a very classic feel that's rarely evoked in modern science fiction.
It's a real mixed bag - there's a LOT to like, but you need a lot of patience to stick with it on the first viewing, and it tends to be something I watch as a background film rather than something to watch with a few mates and a few beers. More an "experience" than a film, 2001 is a challenging film, but patient viewers will be rewarded with fantastical imagery and food-for-thought.
This review was originally written by myself, here:
Famed, and rightly so, for its miraculous special effects, this film manages to leave the viewer almost unaware of the fact that the majority of the shots in space were models. It deservedly won an Oscar for Kubrick in the special effects field. One of the most divisive films ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey was made in 1968 - one year before the moon landings took place. This could indicate that the excitement of potential exploration was at its peak throughout the globe as the so called 'Space Race' was apparent, and thus Kubrick took it upon himself to predict how far the human race could go in our exploration of the universe's realms and depths. I, however, would beg to differ on this theory. The next few paragraphs of this review will hopefully give across my own viewpoint and explain why I do not believe that 2001 is merely a look at the future technological advances which will partake.
There is a distinct lack of dialogue in this film. From the 20-odd minute opening to the similarly lengthed ending, classical music and characters' sounds The film begins, much like Lawrence of Arabia, with a black screen for several minutes as music is played - Ligeti's Requiem in this case. Not only does this indicate that the film will be significantly different from the typical science fiction film, but it has a reason for being there too, unlike the beginning of Lawrence. After a brief shot of the allignment of the planets, we begin the "Dawn of Man" sequence. In this, we are shown the instance when man-apes made an important evolutionary step - the usage of their surroundings as weapons. This occurs soon after the apes see the monolith, whilst the same music from the opening darkness is used. When we next see the monolith, we yet again hear "Requiem". This, to me, means that the opening pitch-black shot is in fact a shot of the monolith itself, and we as the audience are being subjected to similar treatment as the apes and astronauts - a moment of enlightenment. This theory is backed up by the fact that the monolith's dimensions are supposedly exactly the same as a typical cinema screen.
Then, the famous jump cut takes place, where we are subconsciously informed that we still hold primitive instincts as the satellite is effectively a space based weapon. After a rather memorable scene, to say the least, in which a space station is docked, we see that a monolith has been uncovered on the moon. A meeting takes place where one Dr. Floyd shrugs off several accusations of secrecy and hidden agendas - could this mean that the discovery of the monolith was faked? To me, yes. Though I disagree with certain conspiracies that claim Kubrick filmed the moon landings himself and was keeping a hidden message of it inside this film as a warning, I do feel that Kubrick was aware of the possibility of the moon landing being faked in order for the USA to get ahead and win the aforementioned Space Race and was putting his own pessimistic thoughts into 2001.
18 months after the lunar escapades, we meet one of cinema's finest villains in the form of HAL 9000 - a computer who looks after the crew members and such. Notably,the letters are one down in the alphabet ordering from the formation of IBM, yet Kubrick said the following regarding this:
"By the way, just to show you how interpretation can sometimes be bewildering: A cryptographer went to see the film, and he said, "Oh. I get it. Each letter of HAL's name is one letter ahead of IBM. The H is one letter in front of I, the A is one letter in front of B, and the L is one letter in front of M." Now this is a pure coincidence, because HAL's name is an acronym of heuristic and algorithmic, the two methods of computer programming...an almost inconceivable coincidence. It would have taken a cryptographer to have noticed that."
However, with several instances of appearances of IBM, I'm not convinced that Kubrick is telling the truth here.
I do believe that, with these references along with others which could pass off as product placement, Kubrick is warning us of our possible over-reliance on major monopolous companies, much like Ridley Scott did 14 years after this film with Blade Runner.
Following the events on the ship, where Dave Bowman has his battle with HAL, we see Dave go on a journey known as the 'Stargate Sequence'. This can be interpreted in a number of ways. Some see it as Dave realising that the discovery of the monolith on the moon was fake and that he now knows he is being watched by an audience, whilst some see it as a load of nonsense simply there to confuse. Of course, these people are getting 2001 and Donnie Darko mixed up. I myself do not have a singular interpretation of this ending set in stone.
I will start this paragraph by saying that 2001: A Space Odyssey is perhaps my favourite film of all time.
Ambiguity alone can not make a great film, so it is to Kubrick's credit that it has been debated over so many times since its initial release back in 1968. Though Kubrick himself has made many films which I adore, none of them can quite match this in terms of depth. So why is it my favourite film of all? Well, not only does each viewing increase your appreciation of it, but it is one of the deepest and most philosophical films ever made, standing up to an exhaustive list of interpretations.
This two disc DVD has very good extras, the deepest set of the Kubrick DVD available. These include an audio documentary with Stanley Kubrick, over two hours worth of documentaries (with key contributions from such folk as Arthur C. Clarke and Steven Spielberg) and a highly interesting feature that shows early conceptual artwork, drawn by Kubrick's wife. In this, we see many different images detailing what the stargate sequence could have been like.
Overall, this is a must-watch film for cinema fans.
Normally before I write a review I don't like to look at the reviews of other people so as to avoid them swaying my thoughts from what I wanted to say. However, this time I had to, to see if it was just me that HATED this film.
In polite conversations as soon as this film is mentioned the expression, "oh this is a must see film", or "this is a film you must see before you die" tend to be used. I can honestly say I thought I had died while watching this film.
On a positive note, the images are very vivid and the soundtrack is a classic, and maybe this is a film that had to be seen on the big screen with a cinema sound system, but on the small screen in my home I was bored to tears. I can honestly say that I have never fast forwarded a film before but I did at multiple times through this film. A review I read before watching this talked about epic moments and that there was times when there was long periods with no dialogue. To me it felt like the entire film had no dialogue.
As far as I can see there is only one good reason to watch this film, and that is so that when this film is touted as the most incredible film ever, you can quite honestly disagree!
Now I have no doubt that many people will say that I missed the point of this film, but I would like to assure everyone that I very much got the point. The only problem was the point was not worth getting.
My advice is to close your eyes and enjoy the classical soundtrack.
This has been called a must see film and has received the most amazing reviews from all the main movie sites i looked at so i decided to rent this from lovefilm and not miss out on an obvious 'classic'. HOWEVER..... i found this film boring, weird and very missable. People will tell you to look out for all the hidden meanings and deep thoughts but i feel this is just hype. The music score is a classic and opens the film to great anticipation. This honestly was the best part of the film, so why not just buy the musical score on CD. I am not a movie expert. I know what i like and what i dont. I love sci fi and a good story and feel this film didnt really deliver either. There are large gaps of no dialogue and any action and an ending that is just strange. Maybe its just me but that is what reviews are all about!
2001: A Space Odyssey is a sci-fi film made in 1968, directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke.
One of the recurring themes in this film is evolution. The first 30 mins or so have no dialogue at all, and focus on a very distant point in our past, when a group of herbivore apes are attacked, and one is killed, by a leopard. They are also driven from their water hole by another tribe, so they sleep in a rock crater overnight. When they wake up, they notice that a huge black monolith has appeared in front of them. They are very curious as to what this is, and one of them touches it. Not long after, this particular ape remembers the monolith and realises he can use a bone as a weapon to defend himself. So they go back and kill the tribe that took over their water hole and, jubilant, the aforementioned ape throws his bone in the air. This leads to one of the best cuts I've ever seen, when we see the bone flying through the air in slow motion and we cut to an orbiting satellite at the dawn of the 21st century.
Man has found another monolith on the moon, but it emits a strange high frequency radio signal. Fast forward 18 months later, we are on the spaceship Discovery 1, bound for Jupiter, because that is where the monolith originated from. Onboard are Captains Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood), along with three companions and a revolutionary computer system called HAL 9000. As the mission wears on, HAL seems to be making mistakes, which is very unusual because the 9000 series has an impeccable operating record. Soon Bowman finds out more than he ever could have imagined.
This does seem like a love it or hate it film, with opinions going from 'one of the greatest movies ever made' to 'boring and pretentious'. Now while I wouldn't consider it personally to be one of my all time favourite films, it is very good. There's very little dialogue, even after the first 30 mins, but it never seems boring. Perhaps because the visuals are so striking, there's so much to see that you forget there's no talking.
Of course everyone knows about the famous classical music featured in this film, and it fits in brilliantly. It's probably because of this film but when I hear the famous theme I think of our past and our future and where we are going, it's very thought-provoking. The ending is a little confusing, as we are not given a clear conclusion. I guess Kubrick left it open so we can interpret it any way we want. HAL is great, all we see whenever he is on screen is a red light, but over the course of the film I started to see him as more and more human. I even felt sorry for him when he was singing, I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen this yet.
Overall a classic of the genre with an amazing soundtrack and lots of memorable moments and quotes, four stars.
The back story for the production of '2001: A Space Odyssey' is an interesting one. It's one of the rare, perhaps only incidences where the film and novel were created at the same time. The brainchild of both director Stanley Kubrick and Sci.Fi writer Arthur C. Clarke. '2001' was originally going to be a collection of short stories much like 'How The West Was Won' a few years prior and based loosely on some of Clarke's existing work; including the short story 'The Sentinel'. This was then shaped to the structure that we now see today, an ongoing story told from different characters' experiences in different time periods spanning from the dawn of man to the twenty-first century.
We start from the very beginning, epic wide shots of glorious vistas and jagged peaks set the scene for a community of apes who go about their daily lives. They eat, sleep and are under the constant threat of vicious predators and the rival, neighbouring ape clan who are party to fighting each other down by the local watering hole. But one day this all changes when a large black, rectangular monolith appears in the desert, pointing towards the sky. The apes gather round this unknown object and start to touch and explore it. It soon begins to change their way of life. One of the apes is sifting through the skeletal remains of an animal when it realises that it can use the bone as a club and starts to hit the ground. The ape's discovery continues when it beats one of the rival clan members to death. In a fit of rage and blood lust, he throws the bone into the air.
It is now the future.
A fast forward in time to the twenty-first century lands us with Doctor Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester), journeying to the moon to consult on the discovery of a strange black monolith that was found buried on the moon. This has future influence on a space mission to Jupiter months later that is overseen by a HAL 9000, a super computer that has a perfect track record and has never made a miscalculation. Or has it? What ensues is some of the most iconic and famous sequences in cinema history.
For every person who praises '2001' as a champion of cinema, there will always be someone who disagrees. Some people delve into a 'space movie' hopeful for a 'Star Wars' inspired, fun couple of hours, but those may be bitterly disappointed with '2001'. It's easy to see why there are those who can't stand (or understand) this film. The pacing ranges from slow to a crawl, there is no 'action' to speak of, the overall tone is cold and uninviting and there is no satisfying/reassuring conclusion to cap it all off. My parents jokingly refer to it as "the cure to insomnia". But it's these reasons and more that I love '2001: A Space Odyssey' and the things that it stands for.
Words can't describe how much of an influential, trailblazing piece of work '2001' is, so many films that have come after it owe their existence to it in some way (including 'Star Wars'. '2001: A Space Odyssey' is both artistic and philosophical in equal measure and yet surprisingly manages to sit on the good side of the pretension fence, exploring the existence and purpose of mankind in a way that very few films have been able to do. The film has the trademark Kubrick stylisation yet has more substance than a lot movies of its genre and time period. It continues to puzzle audiences to this day as to what its true meaning is. The film flows like poetry and takes you on a journey from the proverbial primordial soup to beyond the infinite.
Some of the imagery presented here is mind blowing, even more so when you realise that this is a film that was made forty years ago. The effects are subtle yet stunning; spaceships glide through space, crew members defy gravity and this was way before the computer graphics and green screens that dominate today's science fiction. It's like watching a grand magic trick, you will be scratching your head throughout thinking out loud; "How the hell did they do that?" It's usually cringing to watch effects shots in old movies as more often than not the technology or skill wasn't available to make it the best it possibly could but here, dare I say; everything is perfect.
Enthusiasts for Kubrick (like me) can rest assured that all the boxes can be ticked. The symmetry, the carefully selected colour schemes, the themes of dehumanisation and of course, the tracking shots form the film's backbone and gives it all the more finesse in doing so. I can't think of any other director who could have pulled this project off as well as Stanley Kubrick, the cold and uninviting overtones are very much like the cold and uninviting overtones of space itself. The slow pace gives Kubrick the time to craft a film of intense beauty and perfection. Just take a look at the instructions for the space toilet (you find these in the trivia section for the film on imdb.com) as an example of the level of detail you can find throughout this film. Kubrick and Clarke have truly created one of the best sci.fi films ever.
Performances are equally refined. HAL (voiced by Douglas Rain) is perhaps the standout which is incredible considering the computer mainly consists of a lens and a red light. There's something very relaxing in his tone of voice which works incredibly well, even more so when HAL malfunctions and starts killing the crew in order to (by his logic) save the mission.
'2001' is brimming with highlights. The bone throwing match cutting to the satellite in space (the most famous and effective edit in film history), the docking sequence to the sound of classical music, Frank jogging around the circular corridor of the Discovery ship and of course, HAL's decent into madness. '2001' is also one of the most realistic space movies ever made. The scenes in space are carried out in complete silence and no liberties are taken with even the smallest detail such as the results of low gravity and the limits of realistic technology. There are no laser swords or warp speeds here, this is as close as most of us are going to get to being in space. The film is a true landmark, not only of its genre, but of all cinema.
There are two kinds of sci.fi movie: there's your fun, fantasy sci.fi a la 'Star Wars' and then there's your serious sci.fi that gets you to think about things like '1984'. There's no reason that a film can't straddle between these two categories. 'RoboCop' has a fantasy, comic book style about it but at the same time is satirical over the capitalism and federalism of America for example. '2001: A Space Odyssey' sits in the thinking man's playground in the school of sci.fi; suggesting a future over reliance of modern technology (which has been proven to be right on the money) and poses questions that will cease to shut up even the most novice of pub philosophers.
In short; '2001: A Space Odyssey' may not suit everyone as it does make for rather difficult viewing, but those who give it the time and effort will be richly rewarded. Its ambiguous ending can and probably has filled books full of different interpretations and meanings. I'm still not entirely sure what it all means but this uncertainty incites repeated viewings of a film entirely deserving of the title; classic. I could probably write a lot more on this film but I don't want to run the risk of my review running longer than the product its reviewing. A masterpiece.
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Time Approx: 143 minutes
In the mid-1960s Stanley Kubrick wanted to make a science-fiction movie which would deal with the space exploration and the prospect of the existence of extra-terrestrials. He had previously made the satirical DR. STRANGELOVE, which with its theme of nuclear destruction skirted the genre. Here however, working with the acclaimed science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, Kubrick came up with the science-fiction classic 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The film divides audiences, with some viewers believing it is the greatest science-fiction film ever made, whereas others end up baffled and bored.
The movie is divided up into four episodes. The first is set millions of years in the past. The second is set at the start of the 21st Century and follows a journey to the moon during which Dr Heywood Floyd visits an excavation which has uncovered an alien artefact which has been buried for a very long time. The third episode moves the story forward by 18 months and follows a journey to Jupiter when astronauts Frank Poole and Dave Bowman are stuck with a malfunctioning computer HAL 9000. The 4th and final episode sees Bowman discover his secret orders, reach Jupiter and achieve the next stage in human evolution.
The common link between each of these sections is a mysterious monolith, and throughout the film Kubrick refuses to answer the obvious question of what exactly the monolith is and where it came from. More clarity is provided in Clarke's novel (not novelisation, as it is not an adaptation of the film but is instead simply a different version of the story), and indeed Clarke then went on to write a further 3 sequels which expanded upon the story - one of which was adapted into a movie (2010), although Kubrick was not involved in the adaptation. It is also worth noting that the original idea for the film comes from Clarke's original short story, THE SENTINEL.
Kubrick allows for a great deal of viewer interpretation, and it is no bad thing to watch a film that demands so much of the audience. In this modern age of movies some viewers take this ambiguity as a negative point, as we are so often 'handed everything on a plate' in the movies we devour. However in the late 1960s and 1970s it was more common for Hollywood films to feature ambiguity and I think that it is something that is sorely missing from much of today's Hollywood product.
As well as providing the viewer with a great deal to think about Kubrick also provides us with a great deal to look at as well. The special effects are fantastic, and there are some fantastic uses of film conventions. For example, the transition between man's first weapon (at the end of the first episode) to the twirling space station at the beginning of the second episode draws clear parallels betweem the two, and provides an unspoken commentary on man's progress. The visual effects in the final sequence as Bowman begins his evolutionary process are remarkable, but do seem to go on for a very long time, which when watched on DVD can lead to boredom, no matter how one loves the film.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is a hugely influential movie and is a must-see for anyone with an interest in science-fiction cinema. I would not recommend it however if your tendencies in this genre are more along the lines of shoot-em-up violent action sci-fi movies. It is a shame that there has not been a DVD release as yet which does justice to 2001's place in the science fiction world - the version I have has no special features at all. I very much hope that there is a 40th anniversary release planned for next year (2008) which will rectify this situation.
One of the landmark science fiction films of the twentieth century, 2001: A Space Odyssey was a deliberate collaboration by successful director Stanley Kubrick and sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke that intended to be precisely that; the ultimate space movie. Historically flawless by intent, 2001 was released at just the right time to blow the minds of American cinemagoers, presenting a series of scientifically plausible portraits of a future envisaged during the space race era.
A Space Odyssey exploits the universe of 2001 as an essential background and framework to explore the main plot, concerning humanitys quest to solve an ancient, cryptic puzzle through the solar system. A terrifyingly inexplicable object has been excavated on the surface of the Moon, identical to an object that is seen to appear on prehistoric Earth and instigate the Dawn of Man. The monolith on the Moon sends a signal out to Jupiter, and the space shuttle Discovery is sent in that direction on the secret brief to essentially find out whats going on. But the two-man crew of the Discovery are forced to contend with another developing life form in the form of the ships emotionally aware computer, HAL.
This plot is perhaps one of the least recognised aspects of 2001, but it is at least the driving force behind the film; a durable premise upon which everything else can gain relevance. Reading Kubrick and Clarkes script without the visuals would give no idea as to whats going on, as the creative and intellectual choice was made to narrate the events entirely in pictures; little of what the characters actually say in their brief moments of discourse has any effect on the plot or its underlying implications, with the exception of the HAL sub-plot. The monolith riddle is free to be interpreted according to the viewers own desire and beliefs, while the parallels between ape-man, advanced man and the man-made computer couldnt be illustrated better.
Its difficult to avoid using artistic vocabulary such as illustrating and depicting when discussing this film, as much of it is structured like a sequence of moving (very, very slowly moving) storyboard frames rather than an action-oriented picture. 2001 remains a powerful and popular film, but criticism of its pacing is well deserved. Kubrick and Clarke craft a deliberately static and sterile pseudo-Utopia, a world that seems drably believable in its sheer mundanity. The long, long scenes of twenty-first century life prior to the unveiling of the sinister monolith make for an incredibly dull and almost pointless viewing experience, a series of sequences comprised of minute plot exposition, occasional glimpses of futuristic life, and a whole host of tedious model shots and unnecessary conversations held between characters who never appear in the film thereafter.
Modern viewers (and likely, viewers for several decades now) wont share the wow factor that the lunar vista and docking sequence rely on in their excessive duration. The combination of futuristic visuals and antique symphonic music works extremely well and is deservedly memorable, but the film would only be improved by choice editing of the lengthy space scenes, especially in the second quarter. Pacing aside, the film really does look incredible, assuming modern viewers accustomed to CGI are prepared to suspend their disbelief at the less advanced and often very obvious model shots and matte paintings. From the opening scenes of a barren prehistoric wasteland (filmed on a roof at MGM in London) to the exterior space shots and clever gravity-defying set designs, 2001s lasting strength is equally balanced between its iconic visuals and positive and critical interpretative sub-texts. The final quarter of the film, the legendary Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite, is a psychedelic mind trip that will deter casual viewers and astound those who found themselves hooked even in the uneventful opening hour. Pink Floyd fans benefit from a whole extra dimension to this sequence (see comments).
Despite its focus on technological advancement, and its implications, 2001 is ultimately (arguably) a story about the state of humanity, though is not necessarily a condemnation or sanction of our progress. To criticise the acting as stilted and wooden is to miss the point entirely. Dr. Floyds cold interaction with his daughter on video-phone concludes brilliantly with the characters insistence that his daughter inform his wife that he called, Poole stares blankly at the TV screen as his parents sing Happy Birthday on video, and Bowman doesnt utter a word as he disconnects the ships circuitry and endures HALs admissions of fear. It would be shamefully elementary to declare that the computer character displays the most humanity (freedom of interpretation requires at least the possibility of contradiction, rather than a clear, single meaning).
The clean white sets and lofty sci-fi plot will prevent casual viewers from fully appreciating the psychological horror of the films second half, and indeed its general critical tone from the onset. Far from being a peaceful Utopia to contrast with something dingy in the vein of Blade Runner, 2001 merely strives to anticipate the twenty-first century, without aesthetic embellishment, as best it can. Whether this works to create a visually compelling film is debatable, but the real focus is overtly that of mans evolution and progress, aided perhaps by the first monolith that introduced weaponry to the world in the hands of apes. Humanity is still shown to be insular, untrusting, devious and reliant on artificiality and technology.
2001 is a unique film, despite a few attempts to emulate its style. The excellent design concepts of space stations and craft interiors crept its way into the Star Trek movie series, the first film of which attempted to emulate 2001s style as an aid to telling an epic story. Sadly, only the most boring aspects of the film were replicated. The sequel to 2001, 2010, was based on Clarkes sequel to the originals novel (written alongside the production of the film, and only slightly different), but is a much different affair that even ignores some of the admirable stubborn traits of the original, the use of sound effects in the vacuum of space being particularly to my chagrin.
Star Wars may have polluted the science-fiction film forever, but 2001 was a marvel of its age, and can only be fully appreciated placed in its pre-Moon historical context. The docking scenes are tedious and the ape suits are rubbish, but the music from Richard and Johann Strauss is great, and HALs soft-spoken voice is infectiously sinister and quotable. Theres a lot to consider in 2001, and a surprising amount going on, yet its all reconciled with near-perfection. Sequels are unnecessary and re-makes are out of the question. This isnt a film for everyone; half-art and part-suspense, its a great piece of cinema that somehow clicks with a substantial portion of film fans.
Over the last few months there's been quite a few people who have accused me of getting by on controversy. They have claimed that I possibly like the attention I get from being different, and so automatically bag every popular movie that gets released. This is usually after I've given a bad review for some dull action movie that everyone else loved, The Matrix Reloaded being a perfect example. However my own defense started to look pretty bad when I revealed that I also have a strong dislike for that Stanley Kubrick "masterpiece" that I am reviewing here. In fact why am I acting like I should be scared to reveal the film here when you already know what this review is for? The movie I dislike with a passion is Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey.
Actually it feels pretty good to get it out in a review like this, but alas I can already here the clicking of keyboards as my in box prepares for a massive influx of hate mail. Nevertheless I believe I still have a few minutes to get this review finished before the first of it arrives so maybe I should use that time to best try and defend my stance. First of all then I'm going to be doing something unusual with this review, and yes I'm well aware of the irony of saying that I'm going to do something unusual in a bad review for 2001 so please keep the laughter quiet. What I'm going to be doing is that I'm not going to start out by criticizing the film like a film critic is supposed to, but instead I'll open by explaining the things in the film that I actually liked.
The reason it gets those 2 stars is very simple really, but it builds up to a very complex level. The reason is for it's cinematography. Oh great now I've done it, even the 2001 haters are going to be writing me hate mail now. "Who gives a stuff about cinematography...movies should be fun...blah blah blah." Well I give a stuff about cinematography, that's who. It's one of the most important aspects in showing movies as an art form, which they definitely are, and as far as artistic movies go 2001 A Space Odyssey is among the top of the list. The cinematography is breathtaking, typical Kubrick camera work designed to up the films emotional impact among anyone paying attention. Not just that though, 2001's cinematography is more than just fancy camera work because it carries with itself a rich amount of meaning. Literally nothing happens in the film which isn't designed for developing the films themes and philosophies. Right from the beginning you can see it's philosophies in those apes, the apes that seemed so useless to me when I first saw the film 5 years ago. It's shown in the moment where the ape picks up the bone and proceeds to smash the rest of the skeleton, my particular favorite shot in the movie, or when it throws that bone that proceeds to melt out into a futuristic space ship. It's seen in the scenes with Hal 9000 right up until that fancy light show at the end, absolutely nothing in the film is meaningless. Find me a scene that doesn't have a meaning and I'll show you a scene you don't understand, it's that simple.
So then why would I hate a film this rich in symbolism? That I can tell you with much more ease than I could describe what I liked about a film I dislike so much. The reason is that even though the film has a lot to say, I didn't like 90% of what it was saying. Kubrick had 1 angle to the film which described the dehumanizing effects of technology, and I could have lived with that if it had been the films main theme. Seeing the way the film develops from the first invention of the tool to the ultimate invention in Hal 9000. Seeing the humans becoming totally dependent on Hal, and then seeing Hal then decide that the tool no longer needs the humans. Even seeing him taken down by a screw driver, one of the humans most basic inventions are all moments that could have held a high level of power if it wasn't for the fact that they weren't the films main theme. The technology angle was sadly a secondary ideology, fused into the films main philosophy. A philosophy that deals less with technology and more with evolution cheapens the effect for me. Suddenly it becomes, not a film about the dehumanizing effects of technology, and more a story about how the first technology caused mans evolution, but ultimately prevented man from evolving to anything other than a violent fleshly species. You see I am a very religious person, and while I wasn't offended by the films philosophies I couldn't relate to them at all. Opening by showing apes as the creatures that started the use of tools, and then showing the fade to describe years of evolution. Finishing on showing Dave destroy Hal, and after he stops relying on technology he is able to evolve to a higher, post death, state of existence. The evolution angle was there in every facet of the film and, for someone like me, it felt too preachy. As a result it prevented me from attaching to any of the films idea's and rendered the power they could have had redundant.
Like I said though, the themes didn't offend me they just never moved me anywhere. I never attached to them, but they didn't directly prevent me from liking the rest of the film either. What did this was Kubrick himself when he decided that he had explored mans evolutionary path and so he didn't need more. The themes of technological evolution dehumanizing people meant that Kubrick intentionally downplayed the human characters. His satire meant that none of the human characters were developed beyond the terms of character A, B ECT..., and that Hal 9000, an emotionless computer, was the closest a character got to real emotion. I don't consider this to be a good thing. Kubrick may have intended it as satire, but it helped destroy the film for me. Now because it was dehumanized characters within the realms of evolutionary technological advancements, I was left with neither satisfying themes nor satisfying characters with which to grasp.
In the end though I was even denied that most basic of pleasures in the area of sound. I recognize the importance of silent movies on cinematic history, but we have moved beyond those now. Now cinematography can be combined with strong use of sound in order to build an emotional story, but sadly there are very few places where Kubrick considers a soundtrack to be useful to developing the evolutionary themes, and so he left it out. I did a test once and it was revealed that I do in fact react to sound before visuals, and while I can enjoy silent movies it's only when there's something other than sound for me to grasp, which I've already shown is extremely limited in 2001. Some films without a soundtrack though, use the background noises for tension building, but in space there is no background noise. In fact there were some parts of the film that were so silent I felt the need to check my speakers were still working. There were a few moments that used music, and it did use the best classical music you'll find including Blue Danube, my personal favorite. I actually have the soundtrack, but moments using these are few and far between. They're moments I don't understand at all, except that they had a slight refreshing effect from the silence, but that was all. Ultimately a few classic songs are not enough to warrant another viewing, especially since I can listen to the songs on CD.
Now those that have not seen the film may feel that this review contains a lot of spoilers. I assure you that this is not the case. The fact that 2001 does tell its story visually means that the actual script has very little to do with the plot, and even if you go in knowing everything from first act through to the third act (I mention things from the first 2 only) then you still wont have scratched the surface of the story the film is trying to tell. Sadly it still comes down to this; with it's silent nature, shallow characters and evolutionary themes, 2001 A Space Odyssey remains one of the deepest movies I have seen, but also one of the most boring.
Confirming that art and commerce can co-exist, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the biggest box-office hit of 1968, remains the greatest science fiction film yet made and is among the most revolutionary, challenging and debated work of the 20th century. It begins within a pre-historic age. A black monolith uplifts the intelligence of a group of apes on the African plains. The most famous edit in cinema introduces the 21st century, and after a second monolith is found on the moon a mission is launched to Jupiter. On the spacecraft are Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Poole (Gary Lockwood), along with the most famous computer in fiction, HAL. Their adventure will be, as per the original title, a "journey beyond the stars". Written by science fiction visionary Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, 2001 elevated the SF film to entirely new levels, being rigorously constructed with a story on the most epic of scales. Four years in the making and filmed in 70 mm, the attention to detail is staggering and four decades later barely any aspect of the film looks dated, the visual richness and elegant pacing creating the sense of actually being in space more convincingly than any other film. A sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two (1984) followed, while Solaris (1972), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Abyss (1989) and A.I. (2001) are all indebted to this absolute classic which towers monolithically over them all. On the DVD: There is nothing but the original trailer which, given the status of the film and the existence of an excellent making-of documentary shown on Channel 4 in 2001, is particularly disappointing. Shortly before he died Kubrick supervised the restoration of the film and the production of new 70 mm prints for theatrical release in 2001. Fortunately the DVD has been taken from this material and transferred at the 70 mm ratio of 2.21-1. There is some slight cropping noticeable, but both anamorphically enhanced image and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (the film was originally released with a six-channel magnetic sound) are excellent, making this transfer infinitely preferable to previous video incarnations. --Gary S Dalkin