jackson's Review of 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)
Within my previous review (if you are familiar with it), you'll notice that my previous diagnosis of "2001: A Space Odyssey," is relatively short. A review that barely scratches the surface of its stirring secrets, anonymous mysteries and its unquantified imagination. My opinions are obviously not valid and purely subjective, but over the course of my years as a cinephile, I haven't interpreted a film with such profound effect like "2001." My first experience still contains resonance: Sitting in my lounge room, surround sound, slow but ultimately dextrous and hypnotizing pace, and left within a perplexing and bewildering state upon the films ambiguous ending - Yes, I knew upon soon as I had finished, that this film would require repetitive viewings. Ultimately, I have to thank "2001" for its internal power; a film that was solely responsible for illuminating the possibilities of production values while containing the ability of expressing, thematically and philosophically, views on such a grandeur scale.
Similar to most of Kubrick's films, "2001" was annihilated on its initial release. One critic classifying Kubrick's efforts as "a monumental bore." Besides finding a connection with adolescence (who watched the film frequently with the accompany of marijuana), Kubrick Sci-Fi was lauded. However, the steeped irony of all Kubrick efforts is that, like "2001," many of his films, while disgraced on their release, have evolved in the future generations as classics. The probable reason that "2001" suffered on its initial release is that its final presentation contained such a level authenticity, that cinema-goers were left extremely perplexed; a monumental leap that was light-years ahead of its time; it defied a genre (the Sci-Fi genre usually contained the aesthetics of exploitation B-Movies); used the notions of the mysterious infinite to break the boundaries of imagination; displayed the insignificance of humanity to the anonymous divine; and contained an overt vision of space with a wholly realistic atmosphere. With a run-time of only 140 minutes - and with such lofty themes - it's quite amazing that Kubrick was able to cover a narrative structure - divided into four acts - that basically creates a subjective hypothesis and map of human existence.
Shortly after finishing the audacious "Dr. Strangelove," one thing was ultimately certain about the fearless director: the man contained an imagination unparalleled with. To no surprise, Kubrick become fascinated by the notions of extraterrestrial life (what better way to let your imagination run-wild within the untapped universe of the infinite?). Fixated on making "The proverbial good science fiction movie," Kubrick met with Sci-Fi author Arthur C. Clarke, to which he described as "a recluse, a nut who lives in a tree." Eventually, they met through a mutual acquittance that worked at the studio, and upon their first meeting they would engage on project that would take the next four years of their lives.
Kubrick begins his magnum opus with the first chapter: "The Dawn Of Man." Beginning with a Darwinist approach, Kubrick details genesis' civilization. Accompanied by beautifully shots detailing a natural landscape inhabited by Apes. Similar to various sequences throughout, Kubrick's direction and atmosphere is evidently subtle; with the applications of 'Silent Films' aesthetics, for the first 40-minutes, the auteur allows his narrative to unfold visually rather than verbally. Ultimately, the overall attenuated atmosphere and attention to bantam details forms an emergence of cinematic technicality and documentary presentation; a beautiful example of "Pure Cinema." As the passage continuous, the Apes actions are obviously still primitive; they are subordinate within comparison to the other Apes and miserably fail at defending their area, all due to their inferiority. Banished from their previous position, the Apes wake to a strange Black-facade-God-like-statue (with the accompany of a truly shattering score). The following day - the Monolith has now Vanished - one Ape begins to dismantle decaying skeletons in the vast terrain with the use of a bone. Perplexed, the Ape realizes that the bone could serve as a commodity for physical defense, to which he proves by killing the supposed superior Apes. Conclusively in the opening passage, Kubrick's thematics and personal beliefs accumulate for an audacious statement: the Monolith is symbolically situated with the connotations of a divine teacher, a God like figure if you will, and this teacher is a catalyst for these primitive creatures intelligence - the provider of civilizations first weapon.
Victorious, the Ape lodges the bone of out his palm and into the air with Kubrick following the bones transaction elegantly. Upon its return to earth, the sequence switches from a Bone to a spacecraft in the year "2001." A monumental editing sequence in its own right, but even more granduer as a monumental statement. In one shot, Kubrick transcends a four million spatial span, and with a juxtapostion of weapons (Bone to Spacecraft), Kubrick is suggesting the minimalistic differences over the course of humanity and that our motivations haven't changed from the beginnings of our intelligence. The human race is still manufacturing weapons for the purpose of power, the only difference is that our technological skills have dramatically improved.
The next segment is dubbed "TMA-1" and begins with an assemblage of various Spaceships gracefully orbiting with the accompany of classical music. As stated from the director himslef, the music chosen for "2001" would be vital to the films resonant atmosphere, and as I previously stated, Kubrick's most certainly gained inspiration from the aesthetics of 'Silent Cinema,' as his comments concur "he wanted the film to be a primarily non-verbal experience." Initially, Kubrick hired Alex North for an actual score, but Kubrick being as meticulous as he is, choose the triumphant melodies of classical music, most notably Johann Strauss II's waltz, "An der schönen blauen Donau." Triumphantly displayed within this chapter, and with the accompany of his visceral vision of space with the emergence of Strauss delicate waltz, Kubrick's aesthetics are astonishing; the following passage contains the presentation of a breathing painting, moving with profound elegancy and flamboyance. Furthermore, the special effects still contain contemporary resonance. As previously stated, Kubrick was extremely meticulous and one of his sole motivations for such a movie was to create a realistic projection of space. So as you could imagine, his final projection of the ships would most certainty have to replicate the real prototypes. Obviously, Kubrick most certainty succeeded with the richly detailed Spaceships that he provides. Eventually we meet our first humanistic character: Dr Heywood R. Floyd (Sylvester). Really only serving as the catalyst to the plot, Dr. Floyd is assigned to investigate a mysterious object that he has been assigned to investigate on another planet. Once Floyd arrives, himself and his teammates discover the Monolith as it begins to instigate a piercing sound-wave.
In the third chapter "Jupiter Mission" the audience finally gain their protagonists, Dr. David Bowman (Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Lockwood). Both have just wakened from hyper-sleep and begin engaging daily rituals to form a social routine (accompanied by some brilliant innovative shots that reflect a perpetual rotating motion within the interior of the ship). However (and more importantly), we are introduced to humanity most recent technological development: HAL 9000 - Artificial Intelligence. The most interesting aspect within this accumulation of characterss is Kubrick's humanity paradox, as we begin to gain the various traits of the central characters, HAL - with being simply a red dot within the wall - is the one that seems to contain the most humanistic characteristics and genuine emotion. Where Scott's "Blade Runner" would obviously gain inspiration from, Kubrick's view on humanity and technology displays an irony and a paradox: the irony is that (like the faith of Poole) the entities that we consider as our greatest achievements ultimately lead to a greatest downfall. And the paradox, well, the further humanity race delve into the extremities of technology, we are slowly losing the essential humanistic emotions by developing them in other forms of Artificial life - obviously displayed through the juxtaposition of Bowman and HAL.
Eventually, HAL detects a problem with the ships mechanical functions. To rectify such set-backs, Poole attempts to fix the exterior of the Spacecraft. Through this passage, Kubrick evidently displays his meticulous style. While the sequence is undeniably slow, the attention to detail is astonishing - Kubrick continually interplays between Poole breathing within the interior of his suit to the eerie silences of the cosmic atmosphere. As stated, it is sequences like these that give "2001" that realistic documentary environment. After their investigations, Bowman and Poole realize that there Artificial acquittance is wrong, and quirky enough, a battle of wits and mysterious emotions begins between the humans and technology. However, despite these growing problems, Bowman and Poole continue to the nonfunctional component, with HAL watching all the way. As Poole slowly descends upon his destination, the pod sinisterly begins to move on Poole's position to which Kubrick switches to a three-way interval edit-zoom while simultaneously we see Poole fly lifeless into the depths of space. Dealing with such a passive character (let's face it, he is just a red dot in the wall after all), it's quite astonishing the amount of life Kubrick is able to bring a character that contains very few characteristics: from his questioning of genuine emotions; from his lip-reading which obviously identifies that he is conscious of human deceit; and the final edit sequence previously mentioned, HAL is really a robotic character like no other. Similar to "Psycho," but also in completely different proportions and with HAL assuming the role as the antagonist, Kubrick ultimately leaves us to sympathize with the most recluse (in terms of humanistic) character. And HAL's electronic disposal hits like a poignant jack-hammer as Bowman proceeds in dissembling his functions in a apathetic manner while HAL pleads for humanity by singing "Daisy Bell." Truly melancholic. Through this process, Bowman learns the true nature of his mission: the capture of the Monolith.
Bowman proceeds in mission and eventually engages with the dark entity, and what follows is undeniably perplexing, transcendental, ambiguous, audacious and simply breathtaking. Upon his engagement, Bowman is shot through the"Star-Gate": an accumulation of a range of dazzling, flamboyant special effects and futuristic landscapes that suggest a transcending moment of space and time to another dimension. Eventually, Bowman finds himself within the interior of a lounge room. Slowly we watch Bowman travel through the various stages of his life; eventuating and descending to his death, Bowman is reborn as the "Star-Child" and is perpetuated gracefully over the inferior earth. Perplexing to say the least, Kubrick's conclusion to his monumental efforts is riddled with ambiguity; offering multiple interpretations that would be wholly acceptable. So within this case (and if you disagree that's fine), my perceptions are purely subjective. Ultimately, within this ending, "2001" thematically and wholesomely comes full circle. The projection of Star-Child is the signalization for the 'new'; the redefined species, the next step of civilization. From the genesis' of man, "2001" details the relevance of humans inferiority under the prowess power of the Monolith, and the year "2001" is a manifestation of humanities intelligence; we, as the human race have reached our capacity and the "Star-Child" is the next step within our evolution. Using this train-of-thought, the room that Bowman is situated in could be well argued to represent a laboratory (for the aliens); an area for them to utilize their capabilities on subordinate humans.
As previously noted, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is the epitome of the boundaries and profound effect that the cinema can contain. An authentic experience within its power of conveying such monumental thematics to a transcendental state. "2001" was not only an experience that made me question the concepts of my own beliefs, it provided one for me: there are most certainly outer beings within the depths of the unknown, and if we ever share contact with them, we are most certainty going to be primitive to their superiority. Riddled with sheer philosophical power, "2001" is not only a film you must see, but rather believe.
The definition of a masterpiece.