Tuesday, 17 July 2012

2001: A Space Odyssey - Review

My first real thought when coming away from this film is "What the fuck was that all about?" And to be honest I think that's most people's reaction when they first see this movie.

So it's not really surprising that this is one of the most debated films in history with many different people trying to work out it's meaning. Kubrick himself said that:

"You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film- and such speculation is one indication in that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level- but I don't want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obliged to pursue or else fear he's missed the point."     

The film has polarized opinion with some heralding it as a masterpiece of cinema that taxes and challenges yourself to think while others call it pretentious, self-indulgent bollocks with a rubbish plot and little to no structure. I fall into the first category.

I really like the movie's inaccessibility. Obtuse would be another good word to describe this as well. The film gives you no easy explanation of the events going on in it and forces you to make your own conclusions of the film. It provokes ideas and debate which is why this film appeals to me so much. Very few movies (as well as books, TV shows, comics...) force to think for yourself these days. Everything is usually hand wrapped, put in a box, and given to you as a gift with all the answers and the meanings laid out for you. To have a film that doesn't simply prepare everything for you in advance is really refreshing. 

But, whatever you think of the film's content you have to agree this film looks absolutely fucking stunning. The directorial work on this film in simply stunning and yet another example of Kubrick's immense skills in imagery. The shots in my mind that stick out for me in particular are the opening sweeping shots of all the space-stations accompanied perfectly with The Blue Danube. And by space-stations- I mean models. Hand crafted models, none of this poxy CGI shit we have these days. Models full of the most intricate and small details that make them all the more believable. Just watching them float through space really is an awe-inspiring sight.

Going back to the directing work, the interior shots of the spaceship are mesmerising. The way that the actors can not only walked in a straight line but also on the walls, over the ceiling and then back down to the floor. Seeing these for the first time truly was one of those "How in the name of fuck did they do that?" moments.

Kubrick's co-writer Arthur C.Clarke was a futurist and had a diverse and intelligent understanding on science and technology. These two factors made him very clever indeed on predicting what kinds of technology we would have in the future. And it's this knowledge that I think gives the this movie such 
credibility to me. Often with Sci-fi people's visions of the future can look very dated in deed. However with this movie what Kubrick and Clarke did was to say in even though this may not be the actual future it at least looks likes a credible alternate future. 

But sadly it's not all perfect. This film suffers terribly from the 60's scientific optimism, in which everyone thought at the rate the space race was going we most probably would be going to Jupiter in 2001. As we all now know, humanity stopped dreaming and space interest died in the 70s. So looking at this film with the title of "2001" always is a bit of a sore reminder to me.

But still that doesn't get in the way with how fascinating and awesome this film is. Check it out if you have an open attitude to films and are willing to have your minds incredibly taxed afterwards. 

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