Saturday, 18 October 2014

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Film Review





 Fig. 1. 2001: A Space Odyssey poster.
 
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) will almost certainly leave you speechless, filled with heaps of suspense and stunning visuals, it is definitely a great piece of science fiction that still stands strong today. The story itself is somewhat hard to follow, you can even argue that there isn’t actually a narrative at all, as Milne points out ‘apart from a sequence involving an endearingly sulky computer, so offended by a suggestion that it has made a mistake that it announces in the silkiest of tones its intention of taking over command, there is remarkably little plot to 2001. The film, in fact, might be best described as a factual philosophical speculation, rather than as the drama it sets out as but never develops into: and like all good speculations, it leaves the spectator up in the air with a tantalising vision as food for thought.’(Milne, 2010). Kubrick leaves so many questions unanswered, leaving you to form your own conclusions.

One of the most influential factors of the film is the incredible music; it’s noticeable from the start that it injects a huge amount of suspense into the audience. Perfectly executed in every way, it was an extremely powerful tool that held the film together. At times it makes you feel quite uneasy and almost uncomfortable; the sheer power of it definitely had the best impact on the film. As Brayton states ‘2001 was the first film of the director's career where the music choices were consistently thoughtful and extraordinarily important, especially his use of three pieces by György Ligeti (without Ligeti's permission), with the composer's jarring micropolyphony creating a sense of unearthly aural sensation, chaotic without actually being formless, that ideally suits the film's depiction of human beings getting in out of their element (of course, the iconic use of the fanfare from Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" - itself based on a Nietszche work where he discusses, among other topics, the idea of the Superman, which makes it thematically cunning and aurally pleasing - is also brilliant, though a bit damaged by almost a half-century of parodies).’ (Brayton, 2014).

 Fig. 2. Journey to the moon still.

 2001: A Space Odyssey is a ground breaking film for its visuals, each aspect was carefully conceptualised to create the futuristic world. As Spiegel points out ‘The cuts from shot to shot, scene to scene, are so precise and never rushed. Some may see this as overindulgence, but the deliberate choices throughout, visually and aurally, combine to create one of the most exciting and challenging pictures of the decade.’ (Spiegel, 2014), Kubrick did a fantastic job at creating and displaying every little detail of the future to the audience. This ranges from the larger details like the spaceships and HAL, to the more subtle things like the food trays, anti-gravity slippers and hair nets (see fig. 2.).


Fig. 3. Monolith still.


  It’s possible that the black monolith’s appearance is connected to the advances in evolution. This seems to be the case as at the start of the film when the monolith first appears in front of the apes (see fig. 3.); they take the first steps into evolution. Survival of the fittest springs to mind as the ape beats a rival ape to death with a bone, this is cleverly mimicked later on in the film when Dave is terminating HAL. During that scene Dave has an almost lifeless face; it reflects the brutality of survival. Shortly after HAL is terminated, Dave is faced with the monolith; he survived and was ready to take the next step of evolution.

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is definitely a film for any sci-fi lover to watch, it’s packed with superb visuals, chilling music and a ton of suspense.




Illustration list:
Stanley, K. (1968). Figure 1. 2001: A Space Odyssey poster. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0GguOzQtbN0/USOpuQPofwI/AAAAAAAATsg/xvIDu2WRbeY/s1600/1968_2001+Space+Odyssey_11.jpg (Accessed on 18/10/14)

Bibliography:
Brayton, T. (2014). antagonie.blogspot.co.uk. http://antagonie.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/stanley-kubrick-beyond-infinite.html (Accessed on 18/10/2014)
Milne, T. (2010). theguardian.com. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/21/space-odyssey-review-science-fiction (Accessed on 18/10/2014)
Spiegel, J. (2014). moviemezzanine.com. http://moviemezzanine.com/history-of-film-2001-a-space-odyssey/ (Accessed on 18/10/2014)

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