Sunday, October 9, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Ooh, this is a tough sell. On the one hand, my son was (prior to his current military obsession) a Sci-Fi nut. And no Sci-Fi film comes close to the pedigree of 2001. One of America's greatest directors teaming with one of the world's greatest Sci-Fi writers have produced arguably the greatest movie in the genre. AFI clearly thinks so. IMdb, for what it's worth, ranks it 13th, but let's face it. IMdb isn't the most scholarly of sources. Besides, two Star Wars movies rank higher despite that they are principally fantasy. Anyhow, Peter and I sat down to watch this monster.

What a wholly unwatchable movie! Now, it was amazingly innovative. They were producing this BEFORE the moon landing and getting a lot of interesting details right. They showed how advanced technology would be actually used by regular people. That stuff was great. So, what is it all about?

Well, there's this giant black block that teaches monkeys to kill each other, then it turns up under the surface of our moon. Trying to figure out what it does, they discover that it is transmitting a signal to a moon of Jupiter. So they send a team armed with an awesomely reliable computer to take a look-see.

Along the way, Astronauts Dave and Frank get this silly idea that HAL is faulty, and decide to shut him down. HAL no likey this idea, so he takes matters into his own ... um ... hands.

Kubrick's 2001 is a magnificent accomplishment. The visual imagery, the choreography, the soundtrack, it's a singular experience. However, from a purely entertainment standpoint, it's an endurance test. The first dialog is spoken 24 minutes into the movie. And the back end, the last half hour or so, well, drink a cup of coffee or two. I nodded off and had to rewatch it.

So, what's it all about? I mean, what is it REALLY all about? What is the ultimate message of the movie? Read the book. It makes some sense and is a lot less tedious. It's an amazingly well crafted movie and intensely influential but, man, AMRU 3 is all I can muster.
"My god, it's full of stars!"


  1. I admit that the whole movie makes not much sense, nevertheless I adore this movie about as much as most David Lynch movies which also don't make much sense.
    I guess I love movies that I don't understand :)

  2. I suppose I feel much the same way, only with a shorter attention span. Both amazed and bored at the same time. I like the Arthur C. Clarke quote "If you understand '2001' completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered."