Blake's Review of 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that goes beyond films. It is a film that takes us to the darkest edges of the universe and shows us places where time and age cease to exist. Descended down from the heavens by some strange alien named Stanley Kubrick, 2001 is a film that is so ambitious and so epic that it remains ahead of its time 42 years after its making.
From the beginning of the film at the Dawn of Man there is a unforgettable shot of an otherworldly horizon, and it is our signal that we are no longer in Kansas anymore. Following, is a twenty minute section engaging us in the uneventful lives of our primordial ancestors in a archaic documentary fashion. This segment is an early indication that we are not in the prescence of a director who caters to his audience. Kubrick reminds me alot of the filmmaker Tarkovksy (Solaris, Andrei Rublev), in that he doesn't rush to make scenes unfold quickly nor does he make films that are palatable to every taste. Many people will be put off by this film, calling it boring and dull and yes, the film isn't Star Wars. There are no shootouts, chase scenes or much talking for that matter. But where 2001 lacks in fast paced action, it makes up for in fascinating insights on our place in the universe and in the future.
From the Dawn of Man we are shuttled millions of years into the future (following the apes making contact with an ominous black rectangle named The Monolith). The main plot is set in motion as astronaut Dave Bowman is sent on an assignment to Jupiter for research. But unlike most sci-fi pictures the plot is not the most important thing here neither are the actors really. It's what the film says through these aspects that's the star. In the middle of the film Bowman and his shipmates antagonize with the computer system of their ship who has their whole environment in his control. While many would find this predictament to be an interesting premise for a horror film, Kubrick turns it into a cautionary message about our over reliance on technology. HAL is the prototype for the irony of modern technology: In that technology started out as our servant and has ended up being our mental enslaver. And that my friends is something that is MORE relavent today then it ever has been.
Look at the film on just a technical level, and it's still a masterpiece. Here are some of the most magnificent special effects in the history of cinema and they were done over 40 years ago! None of what today's big-time directors, with their 100 billion dollar budgets, do can come anywhere close to what Kubrick did here. The stargate sequence is still one of the freakiest experiences I've ever had in cinema; Only because I know that the deepest reaches of space probably look somewhat similar to this. The use of editing and jump cuts is still influential today, and at that time had considerable influence on Speilberg and George Lucas. I know its been said a trillion times but the genius of the famous bone/satellite jump cut still makes me awe at Kubrick's creativity.
I am not the first to review this film (1,079 reviewers came before me) and I most certainly won't be the last. Here is a film that is so jampacked with the mysteries and themes of our existence that for generations after all of us are gone, people will still be discussing the purpose of the monolith, the stargate, and good ol' HAL. Someone earlier asked what the point of this film is, I don't think there is any simple way to answer that question but if I had to try I would say this: The universe is a mystery filled with questions that only provide answers with more questions, and those questions will never be in reach to our small earthling existence. That's what I gather anyway, and for me the mystique of the questions is what makes 2001 all the more exhilirating. 2001: A Space Odyssey is not only a film that deserves to be seen, it deserves to bought, examined, examined and examind again.