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A 1968 film by Stanley Kubrick.

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2001? - Huston, we have a problem

  • Aug 30, 2000
  • by
Pros: the suspence and continued mystery

Cons: the suspence and contined mystery

When this movie was released (yea, I was around and a full-fledged adult then) the year 2001 seemed beyond my realm of reasoning. Now, half way through the year 2000, with the year 2001 peeking over the horizon, I decided to take another look at a film that filled me with trepidation when released. Oddly enough, I find most of the circumstances in the movie trite and some are even out of date! Yes, I laid on the ground at the lake the night Armstrong walked on the moon, listening to the broadcast on the radio, and telling my oldest son if he looked carefully he could see him up there (I was devious then too). Space travel to me, then, consisted of such things as The Day the Earth Stood Still and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original release, not the Sutherland one). Now here I am immersed in the history I previously thought of as only movie fodder.

Even after viewing this movie today I remain in awe of the premise of the story. I have still not quite figured out just exactly what they are telling us and haven't decided if I should be afraid or just blow the entire concept off. As in 1984 , another era I managed to make it through, I wonder if we are being ruled by some unknown larger power, playing with us like puppets, or are we making our own destiny? That is what is so cool about this movie - the thought provoking idea that something is out there - or are we the something that is out there to someone else?

A brief synopses of the movie - it starts somewhere before time began - a league of apes are ruling the world, maybe they still do, they cavort around a large black monolith that is calling to them. As with the forbidden fruit in Eden, when they touch the monolith, the peaceful apes turn into man eating (had there been any men), violent beings. Tossing one of the bones in the air that they use for weapons, as it twirls in the sky, we are suddenly shot forward to the year 2001 - and the odyssey begins.

The monolith is once again discovered - on the moon - by the Americans. It seems the source of the monolith is somewhere on Jupiter, and the travel to Jupiter starts. Of course nowadays we know about space travel, but when this was released, we Americans were dumber than corn about the wherewithals of space. Any little thing they wanted to shove in our faces we believed because we had no basis for disbelief.

Basically, the ship is being run by HAL - computer, back when computers used to fill an entire room instead of fit in the palm of our hands (of course, they still rule our lives today too). HAL is aware of what the mission entails but will not divulge this information to the two men awake on the ship - Dullea and Lockwood. HAL seems like an affable enough little computer, keeping these space weary guys company - a few games of chess, a little playful interaction. But if you listen carefully, you can hear just a touch of edge to HAL's synthesized voice.

HAL, being only a computer and supposedly having no feelings, of course is unable to tell a lie. He convinces the guys there is a problem with an exterior antenna and they make plans to go outside to affect the repairs. Earth station central tells them HAL is basically messing with them and everyone starts to doubt HAL and his intentions. Of course, Lockwood does go outside and HAL effects his demise, at the same time stopping the systems that are keeping the other astronauts alive.

Approaching Jupiter, Dullea sees the monolith float by and is suddenly embroiled in a spectacular light show, as only could have been effected during the 60's. Nothing to this day can compare to the visual stimuli we were assaulted with in the 60's. Those drug induced directors of that era slipped us into their own psychedelically burned out minds, but since most of us were in the same shape, all worked out well! In the final scene we find an embryo, vaguely looking like Dullea, seen floating toward Earth.

A truly confusing and outrageous movie, never fully explained to this day. Everyone spouts their own theories about the movie but I doubt if even Kubrick knew what it all meant, as a good movie should be. Damn those predictable ones - these are the guys that leave you wondering forever.


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More 2001: A Space Odyssey reviews
review by . March 31, 2011
  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 …
Quick Tip by . April 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Over long, slow paced, & too minimalistic in terms of actual storytelling. Visually, it's absolutely stunning, but not Kubrick's best film.
review by . August 07, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Could someone please tell me what the big deal is about this movie, please? I do enjoy Stanley Kubrick a great deal, Dr Strangelove, The Shining, Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, all great movies. But this movie is called a "Space Odyssey", it was an odyssey I stayed awake while I watched it, or didn't kill myself. I already know that I am going to be abased by "film buffs/experts in film history" about my review of "this fine cinematic masterpiece". Consequently, whenever someone states they are …
review by . May 06, 2009
2001: A Space Odyssey is a breath taking look at a possible future through the eyes of Arthur C. Clarke and under the direction of Stanley Kubrick. The movie itself is more of a visual work of art than anything else. All of Kubrick's future (no pun intended) trademarks can be found in this film (cold sterile sets and the Kubrick "stare" to name a few). The two made an awesome team. A shame that they never worked with each other again. Imagine the possibilities.     The movie …
review by . July 23, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
Could someone please tell me what the big deal is about this movie, please? I do enjoy Stanley Kubrick a great deal, Dr Strangelove, The Shining, Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, all great movies. But this movie is called a "Space Odyssey", it was an odyssey I stayed awake while I watched it.    The Cinematography was wonderful, the music was wonderful, the special effects were great (for 1968), but come on the story was very weak. I mean I did get the point about man, where …
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2001: A Space Odyssey (occasionally referred to as simply 2001) is a 1968 epic science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. The film deals with thematic elements of human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life, and is notable for its scientific realism, pioneering special effects, ambiguous imagery that is open-ended to a point approaching surrealism, sound in place of traditional narrative techniques, and minimal use of dialogue.

The film has a memorable soundtrack—the result of the association that Kubrick made between the rotary motion of the satellites and the dancers of waltzes, which led him to use the The Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss II, and the famous symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, to portray the philosophical evolution of Man theorized in Nietzsche's homonymous work.

Despite initially receiving mixed reviews, 2001: A Space Odyssey is today recognized by many critics and audiences as one of the greatest films ever made; the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of critics ranked it among the top ten films of all time. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, and received one for visual effects. In 1991, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
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