2001: A Space Odyssey is a film concerning the developement of the human race, and is broken down into four parts. The Dawn of Man, TMA-1 or Monolith on the Moon (no title card), Jupiter Mission, and Jupiter and Beyong the Infinite. It begins with The Dawn of Man, where for quite awhile nothing goes on but many apes running around. And what happens when a mysterious monolith appears? The apes begin to all crowd around it, touching it, then the next thing is one of the apes gains the knowledge of tool use. But along with another ape this is immediately used for violence. TMA-1 is the next sequence in the film, in which astronauts discover the same, or very similar monolith that was found many years ago. Like the apes, they begin to touch it and a loud screeching sound occurs. This is supposedly sent to Jupiter, and soon a few other astronauts will go on a space mission to find out just what this strange monolith is really all about.
2001: A Space Odyssey has got to be one of the most unique films I have ever seen, especially for its time. This is the film that may be overlooked by regular movie goers today, but is no doubt what has set the standard for great science fiction even today. But I do understand why most people you will talk to in today's time either have not seen this, or did not like it. 2001: A Space Odyssey is definitely a taste specific film, and it isn't the type of movie that many people will enjoy. It is more for those who have a passion for the art of film making. Even though these are all very different films as far as story goes, I would compare it to Star Wars and Star Trek. They are not actually that similar, but taking into consideration all are focused on space, at times they can have a similar feel to them. So as far as personal taste goes, I would say if you like Star Wars and Star Trek then this will probably fit your taste as well.
The story is quite complicated really, and I am sure it will take many people reading interpretations before they fully understand the film. But that is one of the points Kubrick is trying to make here. 2001: A Space Odyssey is not a film that has an exact answer to every question is asks. As Kubrick himself said, it is more of just a film that is supposed to be experienced by the viewer. It isn't what the majority of people think, not what the critics think, it is what you make out of the film. That is not usually my style of movie, as far as when a message is trying to be pushed into a film, but here that is what Kubrick wanted and it worked very well, brilliantly to be honest. However, this film can be a confusion to many audiences, and even though I have not read it, I have heard the book provides many more explanation to the things that occur than the film does. From what I have read, there are more answers concering the monolith and a more specific ending. I know that the film and novel were originally intended to compliment each other, and they have their differences, but if you want more answers that is probably the best way to go.
I have heard many people say this film is much too long, and that I don't get. I am sure some, or a lot, find it to be very boring. I strongly disagree because I thought every minute of this film was very well made, but there certainly are parts that drag out a bit. That isn't meant as criticism, but more as a fact. The film begins with about a 2 minute black screen, which I have read that Kubrick said was intended to be the side of the monolith. But I knew this was a film for me when it opened with the alignment of the moon, earth and sun, while playing the much too famous "Also Sprach Zarathustra". It may be slow moving, but everything in 2001: A Space Odyssey is needed, beginning with The Dawn of Man. This is probably where most viewers who do not make it all the way through this film will just cut the TV off. I am not sure the exact time, but it goes on for a very long while, nothing but the audience just sitting and watching the habits of the peaceful apes. But the mystery begins when the monolith comes, and the nature of the apes changed. This eventually leads into the second part, TMA-1, where the humans come across the monolith. The story is so perfect here, because even without very much dialogue and a lot of long scenes, the audience is drawn into the film with the wonders of where the monolith came from. And I think this is the part of the film that gets to people the most. There has been a time where everyone in the world is curious about where exactly we came from, and are we the only intelligent life in the universe, and this is why 2001: A Space Odyssey does not have an actual answer to all of its questions. It is more of what do you personally believe, which is one of the biggest reasons it speaks to so many people. But, as I have said, the book does have more of an answer to such questions mainly concerning the monolith. Obviously I cannot spoil them, but it does give good answers to its questions.
While it is mostly famous for the technical brilliance it displays on the screen, 2001: A Space Odyssey does have characters, and yes they do speak. These mainly only come in during the last two parts of the film, but it surprisingly enough has quite an unforgettable character in HAL 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain. This is the "perfect" computer that never makes a mistake, which leads the film's main characters into their trip to Jupiter. Obviously, if I wanted I could go into more detail about the characters, but that is not what this film is about, so I am just wasting my breath discussing such things. And this definitely took getting used to. Normally in just the average film that I watch the thing that I pay closest attention to would be the performances. Just in general that is the thing that I care most about in films. But here it does not matter whether we have talented actors or not, the script is short for most characters and very supporting to everyone. This is no doubt something that everyone might not like, and I cannot believe I am saying this. The performances were good, but honestly it doesn't even matter one bit.
The screenplay and direction combined were two quite amazing accomplishments. Most of the credit for how great this film turned out to be must go to Stanley Kubrick, considering he handled the visual effects, was the co-writer, and most of all the director of the film. But the most interesting thing was that the writer along with Kubrick was Arthur C. Clark, who was the actual author of the book. With that being the clear guide to making the film, Kubrick and Clarke really hit a home run with the screenplay. As I mentioned, and as probably everyone already knows from hearing about it, there is very little dialogue, which only increased the difficulty of Kubrick and Clarke's job. And often times they have us just sitting and watching spacecrafts float through space and listening to "The Blue Danube". But in the end, Kubrick's direction was so good it is honestly hard to believe at times. This was such a hard film to pull together with so much power in such a short time, and Kubrick does it beautifully. 2001: A Space Odyssey is undoubtedly one of the main reasons Kubrick is considered by me, and many others to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest director of all time.
One thing that still continues to amaze me about 2001: A Space Odyssey is that it is so scientifically accurate. I am no scientist, and never will be, but I have read from several different sources that this is one of the most scientifically accurate films ever made. All of the ships were designed based on how ships were supposed to be made, and there is no sound in space which is something you often will not see in movies, but is in fact the more accurate way to do the film. Normally in films I do not mind how accurate they are, as far as this goes or historical accuracy, but I do find it incredible that Kubrick has done so much in this film. It is one thing to make a brilliant film such as this one, and it is another to make one and keep it accurate. That is something that really makes the film all the more impressive in my eyes. I am not going to continue and ramble over this one specific part of the film, but if you are watching it for the first time it is something to look for, and read up on how 2001: A Space Odyssey was made.
Now for perhaps what is the most important, and no question the most impressive part of the film, and that is the technical brilliance displayed here. We all know whether we have seen the film or not, that as far as special effects go 2001: A Space Odyssey is quite groundbreaking for its time. In fact, it is not until 1977 when the original Star Wars was released that Roger Ebert compared the effects to that of this film. I personally feel that is a very big compliment to both of these films. But what I loved most was the sequence when Bowman is pulled into the colored lights, and the audience sits and watches the screen go through this for quite awhile. The cinematography was so great here as slit-scan photography is used. Which cool enough, is something I did not learn about until seeing this film. But just in general the spacecrafts floating around the universe was absolutely beautiful, and especially for its time the actual stars and space were done perfectly. Even if you are someone who finds this film boring, it is undeniably beautiful to just sit and watch. With no surprise here, 2001: A Space Odyssey won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Overall, this is a film that is not matched by an other science fiction film I have ever seen. Instantly after finishing it I wanted to watch it again, and after the second, I soon wanted to go back for a third. It is a film that has to fit your personal taste, but I loved every minute of it. Everything is so beautiful, and the moments without the dialogue when it is playing the outstanding music, those parts were actually some of my favorite throughout the entire film. The special effects cannot be matched for its time, and the cinematography was unbelievable. Kubrick and Clarke have combined writing this creenplay, and I have to wonder if they even knew what they were creating here. Even if I hated all of his other films (which I don't), Stanley Kubrick will always be remembered by me for this film alone. I love a lot of movies, but 2001: A Space Odyssey just might be my favorite of all time.