50 years of “2001 – A Space Odyssey” – an incomplete review.

Yesterday I went to a 50th anniversary show of the classic “2001 – A Space Odyssey”.
I got the ticket late, on the same day, so the seat was not ideal – 4th row from the screen and to the side, so I had to turn the head to view the centre of the screen. This did not detract from the enjoyment of seeing the film on a big screen for the first time since it had its premiere in Denmark 50 years ago.
Since then I have seen it a few times on DVD, and it is a different experience.
Director Stanley Kubrick is, of course a legendary film maker, and was nominated for several Oscars.
In true Oscar comittee fashion, the only Oscar he received was for 2001. Further, in true Oscar comittee fashion regarding science fiction movies, the Oscar he was awarded was for the special effects, and not for the film per se.
Of course, the film was not entirely created by Kubrick, it was a collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke, a legendary figure in science fiction.
Having a fond memory of my 15 year old self seeing the film when it premiered I could be a bit apprehensive, does it really hold up ?
I find that it does hold up very well. Seeing those iconic images and hearing the music of this classic was very enjoyable.
The film has been said to be very slow, and in comparison with modern films it is true. Kubrick tells the story in a slow, deliberate way, giving you time to digest the beautiful imaging and the accompanying music. I very much like Kubrick’s cinematography in the film.
Occasionally the film does show its age, for example the imaging of the moon, and Jupiter and its moons could be done much better with the images available today. However, we must remember that the film was made before the moon landings and the space probes’ visits to the outer planets, so the astronomical imaging of the film must be forgiven.
The science and technology of the film is, with one notable exception, very realistic in keeping with the concept of hard science fiction. From the floating pen in weightlessness to the silence of space. In some of the space scenes there is not even any music, just eerie silence. Sometimes we hear (the astronaut’s) breath in some of the space scenes. We wre told, and I did not know, that the breath we hear is Kubrick’s own breathing.
Then there is HAL. The massive A.I. computer with excellent speech synthesis, an claiming never to make mistakes. What happens when HAL makes an apparent mistake ? It is probably up to the viewer to decide which is tha case, a mistake by the A.I. or a deliberate misdirection. I would say that this looks like a deliberate “mistake” by HAL, when “he” says that “he” cannot let the astronauts endanger the mission. Also, I see echoes of this kind of A.I. logic in the modern TV series “Person of Interest”, where the A.I. may take steps to eliminate human intervention, because “humans are prone to error”.
The exception to the strict science and technology is, of course the monolith(s), every scene with that has spiritual/religious overtones, in the imagery as well as the music (or sound effects), and it is the important link that binds all aspects of the film together, from the dawn of mankind to the “birth” of the star child.
The sparing use of dialogue is also interesting, not many films (if any) in the modern age would dare to have about 25 minutes of no dialogue in the beginning of the film *and* about 25 minutes without dialogue in the end of the film.
One aspect of going to see this film was n ot the film in and of itself, but the audience. I think that about 80% of the audience was not even born when this film premiered, but they came because of its allure as one of the great classics.
Much more could be said about this re-premiere, but now I will leave you to your own thoughts.
I enjoyed this re-watch very much, and I will say that it passed the test of time.
I rate the film 10/10 strange monoliths.

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