I just watched 2001 and wrote a critique on it:
2001: A space odyssey (1968)
It is difficult to say what 2001: A space odyssey is about but I will at least try. The story begins with the chapter called The Dawn of Man where a group apes are following with their lives in pre-history and suddenly a monolith appears and the apes seem to worship it somehow and one of them has a glimpse of intelligence. A moment later the apes are eating other animals and murdering one another; from that point we can see that humanity has began, with intelligence and violence. The next events of the movie are in a distant future and American astronauts are discussing to go to an expedition to the moon to observe a mysterious crater, things happen and later there is a spaceship heading to Jupiter due to the discoveries made in the moon. Inside the ship there is the crew (obviously) and an Artificial Intelligence who or which (that thing is almost a guy) controls most of it. The computer is called HAL 9000, considered flawless and perfect for the mission.
2001`s artistic and classy aspect is present since the beginning, the Director Stanley Kubrick chooses to use classical in every moment that there is a shot of a landscape, or a planet, or a spaceship, or the apes or even nothingness; seriously, the initial “scene” is a black screen with classical music playing for two minutes at least, and this is a frequent aspect of the movie. Some people may think that is a boring aspect, which is comprehensible since is long, repetitive and monotonous; others might say that is a way of showing the beauty of the soundtrack or the shots were impressive at the time, (there is someone out there that liked those moments I am sure). I saw the slow paced scenes as a way for Kubrick to show off the special effects and soundtrack, besides the whole symbolical aspect of the movie, which reach close to the peak of a free interpretative story. Since the soundtrack was mentioned, 2001 basically set the standards of what a ton of sci-fi movies would use later, it is amazing just because it not only complements the scene at that moment but the scene actually complements the soundtrack, a perfect example is the initial two minutes where there is only classical music playing in the background, the tone goes from a great sense of achievement by humanity to a scary and weak feeling of darkness and loneliness.
The film`s technical details, that includes the visual effects, photography, art direction, costume design do not seem outdated, and I watched it on 2015 so probably it was a visually mind blowing picture when it was released. Most of the credit goes to the scenes inside spaceship, for example the spinning treadmill scene, a interesting detail is that Kubrick used practical effects to record that not C.G.I. The shots of planets and spaceships almost became a standard for movies about space exploration after that, even Star Wars has similar type of camera angles and environmental design.
One aspect that 2001 clearly does not show any special relevance is it`s characters and acting. Most of the dialogues are simple and monotonic; it just did not grip my attention. But for every rule there is an exception, and 2001`s most charismatic, intriguing, questionable character is the computer program HAL 9000 who is voiced by Douglas Rain. HAL is sarcastic, evil, and manipulative and it is just a voice; a computer voice has more humanity than any other character in the movie. HAL will probably creep you out, since he maintains a calm tone all the time, this is weird when he is basically killing people for pleasure, and he does that without facial expression. All of this may seem nothing special today because it looks common, what actually happens is that the character had such a huge impact in sci-fi narrative that it`s formula (of the computer as a villain) was used in many other movies after that. Kubrick created another character standard villain by just removing the body and keeping it`s mind.
The hard aspect of talking about 2001 is it`s plot, the story`s finale is completely symbolic and interpretative; there are multiple ways of seeing the event of the movie and to attempt to find logic in most of them. What cannot be denied is the idea of evolution and progress of humanity, from the dawn of man with the apes’ scene to the expedition towards Jupiter in the search for the anomaly. One of the interpretations about the sense of progress in the movie is the presence of HAL, since he is a new form of “being”, one that is only the mind not bounded by a body. The idea of progress may have been Kubrick’s attempt to promote the whole space race for the Americans, since the movie was released in the period of Cold War. But the “Pride of the U.S” is one of the many ideas present in the movie and unfortunately one of the few that is actually explicit. Towards the ending the movie loses it`s easily comprehensive aspect, since explaining what happens will make most people lose their interest for the picture I can only say that Kubrick tried to exemplify the limit of the human comprehension of reality.
2001 A space odyssey is definitely a classic Sci-Fi movie; it prepared terrain for what would be the genre for the next fifty years both the technical aspect and scenario. The movie is slow paced and might seem boring for some people, meaning that even being a classic and well acclaimed picture it still has it`s target audience. It`s complexity another factor that may limit the type of viewer, some people enjoy blowing their minds and others get angry because the production made something that seems senseless. What is undeniable is the fact that this movie was a innovative and revolutionary masterpiece, it raises a ton of questions and most of the Sci-Fi movies only raise one, WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? WHAT IS OUR GOAL IN LIFE? WHERE DID WE COME FROM? .