- Produced and Directed by Stanley Kubrick
- April 2, 1968 (Uptown Theater) / April 3, 1968 (US) / May 15, 1968 (UK)
After its discovery, a mysterious object leads mankind on a journey to Jupiter with potential history changing consequences.
2001: A Space Odyssey is deep and thoughtful science fiction. It’s about the big questions of existence as well as what would it be like to encounter an intelligence greater than our own. It touches on evolution and grand leaps in understanding. This is science fiction but science fiction without space battles and explosions as is all too common. It’s heavy on the dialogue. Nobody’s going to pull a gun and spray bullets though several people do get killed before the end of the story.
There’s a lot of heavy science here at least to the point of realism. For instance, the communication between Earth and Discovery is non instantaneous and takes several minutes. And you really don’t hear much of anything when the movie moves to space. When I first saw this as a young pup that really jumped out.
There are a lot of creative and innovative techniques used here to depict the world you see. Rotating or just curved sets to give the illusion of space. And that set for the moon still blows me away. Some of the special effects used look almost as good as anything you would see today. Perhaps even better.
What I appreciate most about this world Kubrick created here is that it looks like a real world. If you’re a certain age, there is plenty you will recognize. Pan Am for instance-though there is almost nobody today that remembers that. Perhaps I should have said “near geriatric.” These are environments you can point to and see the similarities between present day stuff and the future. Or in this case the past as this is one of many films set in the future that is now in the past.
The sets and the clothing look futuristic yet functional. While crafted to look cool they were also crafted to look realistic. From the computer consuls and the space suits and everything for me it is believable and not just cool looking.
2001: A Space Odyssey as a film is broken up in narrative sections. The first is the opening with the man apes and their encounter with the monolith. The second is the monolith being discovered on the moon. And the third and final is the one everybody remembers and that’s with Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) and HAL 9000. And truth be told I understand why. The first two sections are pure set up with the third being an actual story.
There are no clear answers handed to you in this film. You don’t get the meaning to everything you see and hear. That’s part of the reason people still talk about this movie. It gives you enough to draw conclusions, but it doesn’t give you straight out answers. Your mind must do the work. Writers and directors in Hollywood have largely forgotten that in modern film.
2001: A Space Odyssey is definitely a long slog. It’s not something you pop in when you don’t have a lot of time to spare to focus. This film requires you to pay attention to it. If you do not you can miss something. I also say that this is one of those movies that can be watched with absolutely no sound (not as though it’s heavy on background noise to begin with) but completely on mute. It’s a visual feast that you can enjoy on its own.
My major complaint with this movie is that there is a lot of for lack of a better word ‘fluff’. Do we really need the camera to linger on the whole meal thing? Do we need the camera to focus on Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) as he reads how to use the zero-gravity toilet? A great many of these things eat up a lot of this movie. You just need a few seconds to let the viewer know what’s going on. That is more than enough but we don’t need to watch somebody consume puréed food and do not much else.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a serious work of big question science-fiction. It does not give us easy answers or just hand us the answers. It’s a beautiful and well-crafted movie that everyone should look at it released once.