2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Genre: Sci-Fi

Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester

Synopsis: An evolutionary space ballet in which man comes face-to-face with a possible superior species: a computer that is self-aware.

This is a movie that I have been avoiding for quite a while, not because I thought it would be bad or because I thought I wouldn’t like it or anything silly like that. I was avoiding this movie because it has such an impressive reputation. I knew that this movie would offer something brilliant and complex so I wanted to wait for the perfect moment…kind of like when you lose your virginity, only a lot less awkward and traumatizing and no money was involved. JOKE! I don’t pay for sex. I pay for my partners to leave afterwards. Moving on, this movie had a technical brilliance to it and I find it nothing short of amazing that it was made almost 50 years ago. It still holds up wonderfully well against the CGI crap of today and, when high, it conveys a sense of fantastical realism. It really was like looking into the future.

To get an understanding of the future, though, we have to delve into our ancient history. Kubrik does this in the first 20 minutes through a musical account of our evolution. After encountering a strange plinth, our ancient ancestors gain the ability to use weapons and tools, thus securing our position as the dominant species on the planet and all to the detriment of some cuddly and tasty-looking tapirs. It’s a very surreal scene yet haunting and beautiful. The musical accompaniment is grand and, when high, it ripples through your body leading to a crescendo that is strangely orgasmic. When watching the scene, I felt biological. I felt alive and human and animal all at the same time. It was a new experience and one I was unprepared for, although I welcomed it wholeheartedly.

Cut forward a few million years and we’re exploring space. The camera work was incredible and managed to inspire a sense of weightlessness, simulating the lack of gravity in space. It was truly masterful. Beneath all the beauty and technique and wonder, however, is Kubrick’s gritty and unsettling core. Throughout the film the audience receives snippets of the sinister and it isn’t until quite late in the movie that we realize that the central threat in the story is actually the ship’s computer, HAL 9000. Through his study of humans, HAL 9000 comes to understand that he is alive himself and, in a bid for survival, must eliminate the humans that threaten his existence. It’s a very simple story of ‘dog-eat-dog’ but it’s catapulted into the distant future…albeit a bit off on the time scale considering that it’s now 2013 and I haven’t been to space yet. Hell, I haven’t even been to Peckham yet.

The film does something that all great sci-fi should do: it takes simple yet fundamental questions and imposes them into an environment from our wildest fantasies. We have to remember that this film was created at a time when space was seen as the final frontier. People thought that this is what the future was like. It’s an anachronistic point of interest because I don’t think the future will be like that. I think Ghost in the Shell is more accurate, thanks to the role of the internet. I can’t say for certain what the future will hold, I just hope that my future doesn’t involve a moo moo and bucket of family recipe chicken.

This is a movie made for stoners: it’s beautiful and wondrous but it also packs an emotional and academic punch. Movies like this don’t get made anymore. Anyone who is a lover of cinema needs to watch this movie at some point in their life. It may not be as action-packed as Blade Runner or The Matrix but it has one thing in spades: humanity. Sumptuous, complex, heart-breaking humanity. 2001: A Space Odyssey was an experience I won’t soon forget.

High-lights:

  • “Stop Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave.”
  • Trippy as shit. The ending is all like “say wut???” but I think I get it so it’s OK.
  • Thoughts and feels were fully engaged.
  • “A cuddly baby tapir.” Goddamn it I finally understand what that Futurama bit was all about. I fucking love Futurama.

Downers:

  • My only regret is that I didn’t see it in a movie theater.

Summary:

This is the sort of movie you need to watch alone in a dark room after you’ve taken something that will cause your senses and imagination to run wild. I’m very glad I waited for the right moment to pop this cinematic cherry. This film will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest pieces of cinema and it richly deserves its place in the bakedmoviereviews.org ‘Mind Blowingly Awesome’ category.

10/10

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5 Comments

Filed under Mind Blowingly Awesome, Sci-Fi

5 responses to “2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

  1. “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.” Still one of my all-time favourites, great write up!

  2. Fantastic film. Unfortunately its deliberate pacing isn’t tolerated by today’s fast-paced audiences. People today don’t want to think, they want to be handed everything in a nice neat digestable summary. You should review 2010 next, which I also enjoyed 🙂

  3. Pingback: Eyes Wide Shut (1999) | bakedmoviereviews

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