2001: A Space Odyssey


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Current Rating 9.02/10 | 95 Votes

"I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.". Any person that has ever watched 2001 can attest to the power of these words, for 2001 marks a person deeply. It isn't for everybody: many will surely shun it for it's glacial pace and sparsity of dialogue, but the open-minded and those who are able to recognise true cinematic mastery are in for one of the defining experiences of their movie life.

2001's story is vague, unprecise, and deeply subjective. The film starts with a segment named: The Dawn of Man, in which we assist to the event that jump-started the evolution of man: prehistoric apes discover a black monolith, and as they touch it, their minds open and they learn to handle objects with their hands, and thus, to hunt. Then, the movie flash-forwards to the future, when the same black monolith is discovered buried forty feet under the surface of the moon. This, in turn, precipitates an expedition to Jupiter. I will not go into the details of the story, but suffice to say that there are some surprises in hand for the astronauts. However, the story is very often cryptic, and is left to the viewer's interpretation. You will not understand everything in 2001, nor should you. And this is one of the film's messages: not everything can be understood, and not everything should be understood. Moreso, the film also shows us the vastness of space, and shows us how insignificant and how deeply fragile humanity is.

Visually, though, the movie is stunning. Kubrick has always been known as a master of images, and he does not dissapoint. The composition of each shot is meticulous and precise, yet haunting and deeply poetic. There are scenes in this movie that will be etched in the imagination of moviegoers forever: the ape smashing the bones, the spacecraft docking scene at the beginning, the final, cryptic moments of Dave Bowen... practically each shot in the movie is a textbook example of perfection. Secondly, it would be a crime not to mention Kubrick's camerawork and set design. It's vintage Kubrick: unwavering, precise, with an abundance of close face-shots, and in contrast, wide vista shots. The sets are amazing especially the ones aboard the Discovery spacecraft and beyond the infinite. Also noteworthy is the music. Instead of using Alex North's (the movie composer) music, he chose to accompany his film with classical pieces, such as "Also Spoke Zarathustra" and "The Blue Danube". They lend a classical, majestic air to an already grand film, and every scene is greatly enhanced by the beauty of these pieces.

The acting in the movie is good, but there aren't any really noteworthy performances, with one exception: HAL 9000. While he is visually represented only as an optical lens, the voicework by Douglas Rain makes him unforgettable. One of the most chilling and disturbing scenes I've ever seen is the one when he sings "Daisy".

Well, up to now, my review has been very positive, but I feel I need to caution some people about this movie, because it's very far from the usual science-fiction fare. This is not an action movie. This is not a movie akin to Star Wars nor Star Trek. For one, the pace is glacial, and this may be a serious hurdle for many. Also, dialogue is sparse, so don't expect heated conversations. My recommandation is that you see this movie with an open mind, and that you judge it for yourself.

In conclusion, 2001 is one of the most unusual movies of all time. It points beyond the narrative form of storytelling, using visuals and music to create an experience unlike any other. If I could characterise this movie with one word, it would be: Unique.

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