2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Thinking story, great visuals, good cast

A story without any direction or explanation might not be for everyone, deliberately slow paced

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  2001:  A Space Odyssey

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  April 2, 1968

MPAA Rating:  G

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Sometimes things just line up…like everything in this movie

It is the dawn of human kind and the appearance of a strange monolith sparks human discovery.  Now, in present day, a new monolith has been discovered on the moon and an adventure which explores the very essence of man is about to begin.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 2001:  A Space Odyssey is based on the Arthur C. Clarke short story “The Sentinel” which was published in 1951 in The Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader.  Kubrick and Clarke developed a story for the film (and Clarke fleshed out “The Sentinel” into the novel 2001:  A Space Odyssey).  The movie was released to extremely polarizing reviews and confusion as to what the film was about.  The movie won an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects (the only Oscar Kubrick ever won…though he didn’t really create the effects) and was nominated for Best Director, Best Writing, Story and Screenplay—Written Directly for the Screen, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.  Since the film’s release, it has gained a cult following among fans and those in the science industries.  The film is frequently listed as one of the best science fiction film ever made and often is included in best films ever made lists.  “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” is considered one of the “Top 100 Quotes” in cinema by the American Film Institute, and the movie was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

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I’m killing the heck out of these bones!!!

So much has been said about 2001: A Space Odyssey that it is almost impossible to say anything new about it.  The first time I saw it, I honestly wasn’t a fan.  I found it boring and sluggish and saw Kubrick teasing the viewers by intentionally drawing out scenes just past the point of tolerance.  With multiple viewings after a slight break, I do admit that it is one of the more intriguing stories and best science fiction films ever made.

The story is true science fiction.  It is all about ideas and concepts instead of aliens, lasers, and world conquerors…that’s fantasy.  In this sci-fi aspect, 2001:  A Space Odyssey excels.  It doesn’t give the viewers any answers and lets them figure it out themselves…Clarke allegedly said that if someone claims to understand everything about 2001, both he and Kubrick failed as writers.  It isn’t meant to be completely understood and there are possibly no answers to some of the questions raised.

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Um guys, can you stand a little closer to the Monolith…I’m getting a glare.

The movie is divided into four parts.  The first two parts are pretty straight forward (except the Monolith) and just show how man has evolved.  The long period of no dialogue does not particularly bother me, and I feel that their is something amazing and horrifying about the whole ape sequence…a strange sense of dread.  As to the Monolith itself, it is almost a MacGuffin.  It could be God, an alien race, or simply a symbol of the human spark of knowledge and imagination.  Yes, it is physical in the story, but the viewers’ quest to find its meaning is about as fruitful as the characters in the film…so it serves its purpose for both the story and as a compelling question.

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I’m afraid Dave

The third and fourth parts of the film are where the story begins to get a bit crazy.  The second part of the film involves the sentient computer HAL-9000’s break from reality and murder of the crew being sent to investigate Jupiter where the Monolith on the moon sent a signal.  A big question by fans is what caused HAL to go crazy.  Though there is no “right” answer, I don’t think it is one thing.  HAL was for all intents and purposes human.  He was said to have pride and he could have fear.  Both pride and fear are great strains, and the Monolith and its meaning could have big implications not only for mankind but a sentient computer…craziness seems like it could have happened to anyone…or any computer.  Though HAL is a murderer, I genuinely feel sorry for him when Dave (Keir Dullea) is disconnecting him…in his monotone voice “I’m afraid, I’m afraid Dave” does seem mournful and confused.

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Mmmm…Space Amniotic fluid

The fourth part of the film is where reality literally breaks.  Time becomes subjective and relative as Dave ages in minutes (or it could actually be years).  Why?  It is unclear, but what is clear is that he undergoes the next evolution of man…and that was the purpose of the Monolith to begin with.  I don’t pretend to understand the energy star child (they talked about having the star child destroy the weapons orbiting Earth…restoring peace from the first murder by the apes).  I just take the whole film as a symbolic voyage of man and a study of his evolution instead of a literal voyage, but that is the beauty of 2001:  A Space Odyssey is that it is hard to misinterpret the story because it is so subjective.

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Yo, Monolith…can you give me a hand here?

Visually the movie also excels and had a huge impact on future sci-fi projects.  The science in the movie is very real and that has helped it age relatively well.  Conspiracy theorists claim that Kubrick was tapped to fake the moon landing the next year and that the video seen around the world on July 20, 1969 was his work.  It is pretty amazing to consider how far ahead 2001 was when it was made…not to mention Kubrick’s seamless blending of the story with classical music.

2001:  A Space Odyssey is one of those must-see films that is important in understanding other films.  I’d estimate that about half of the audience will be angry with the film and the other half would be fascinated.  A good film to me is one you leave the theater thinking about, and 2001 definitely qualifies.  2001:  A Space Odyssey was followed by 2010:  The Year We Made Contact in 1984 which does feature a return by Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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