2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★

Firstly, let me state how badly I wish I could have viewed 2001 on its original release date. It's a shame it was more than 20 years before I was born. As Kubrick's intentions were almost purely thematic, the time barrier was quite small and easy to overcome; nonetheless, time (45 years of it) was an initial factor that I had to conquer in order to appreciate the beauty that is 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I am amazed by Kubrick's filmmaking (like everyone else), and his ability to convey themes and messages with nothing else than visual aid. The score was wonderful, but in no way, shape or form did it help paint Kubrick's picture. There was no narration to help guide the audience, as well as very little dialogue throughout (none in the first or fourth act). Kubrick was able to maintain a sense of unity amongst the different acts, despite using different characters in every chapter--exception to Bowman.

While watching the first act, I would have never expected to be so moved by a gaggle of apes. But it tied so beautifully in with Kubrick's theory of human evolution; and hence, his use of classical symphonies as the score? To emulate how his movie comes together so harmoniously? Who knows. Nonetheless, the opening act set the foundation for the films theme, which is not simply human development; but the instances that successfully change man's thought process leading to discovery, and thus, evolution. For instance, as the apes first discover the monolith, they cannot possibly hope to understand it. This forces them to reevaluate the ways in which they perceive other objects--i.e. the bone.

I believe the monoliths were used to symbolize key advancements in human developments. Events that were monumental in the evolution of mankind. Also, Kubrick added several scenes of different objects/machines spinning, or rotating if you will. This could be viewed in one of two ways: mankind trapped in a circle of development, unable to escape rational thought or biological form; or, as I viewed it, mankind constantly propelling forward in their understanding of the universe.

Kubrick also ties in themes of technological advances, and the potential dangers of it. As well as the violent nature of man in the face of extinction. Both of these themes are conveyed wonderfully in HAL, the supercomputer that is able to process thought, emotion and possibly instinct(?) the same as a human being. The filmed is magnificently edited throughout. For example the bone being tossed into the air cut to the pen floating--potentially signifying the pen as the mightiest tool in modern society as opposed to the bone in prehistoric times. Other cuts are monumental to the movie, however I would prefer not to divulge any info. *Cough* Close up shots of HAL's eye *Cough*

The end of the film baffled me, and potentially went over my head. I feel as if Kubrick brought in a philosophical debate to inspire these questions--much like the monoliths within the movie. Overall, I don't think Kubrick intended the audience to get caught up within the plot of 2001, but to simply stir the pot (our brains) with his themes.

To be honest, I would have a hard time recommending this movie to friends and family because of it's extremely ambitious nature. It is also difficult to interpret for the common movie-goer. Hell, it was even ambiguous for me, a film-nerd/english major. But to you, fellow Letterbox'dians, I'd recommend anything that earned 4 stars in my book. Potentially 5 stars pending a re-watch.