Primate progress is tracked from tool use to interplanetary travel.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, and Douglas Rain
Initial Review by Bobby Schmidt
I like to think that there's no such thing as a perfect movie, that there has to be some flaw, be it technical, plot based, directing, acting... something. But, 2001 may be as close to perfection as there is, at least in my likely biased eyes. I'm not going to go on as long as I probably could here, but want to simply touch on a few things that make the movie so worthy of praise. When I get to the plot, I will absolutely be leaving a ton out, as there is just a ton to unpack... even if the movie wasn't two and a half hours!
I'll start where 2001 does... with music. I love the overture intro, as it essentially prepares you for what's to come (more on that later). I won't pretend to know much at all about classical music, but the importance and fit of 2001's score is undeniable. The music always worked along side the visuals, adding to the immersion in any given scene. Since most of the film goes without dialogue, it's vital to have such a powerful score. The film won a well deserved BAFTA for best Soundtrack
I like to assume he would have done some amazing things, considering how deliberate and on point he usually was. His stylistic choices and general vision and attention to detail for 2001 is the other main thing I want to mention. The sets were impressive, especially the ships being sleek and clean, with an insightful view of computer systems and space aged communications. We get a look at flat screen TVs, tablets, video chat ($1.70 for an earth to space call seems more than reasonable!), etc that are things that eventually came to be, much like the images we see in 2001. Kubrick made sure to work with consultants to get things as right as possible, including people from NASA. One great example of detail is the silence when Dave reenters the ship from his pod. We don't hear the exploding bolts or Dave being shot into the chamber, as there is no air for the sounds to travel upon. I think there's a lot to like about Kubrick's direction, especially when it came to pacing (I'm sure some would argue it's too slow and long), precise cuts, and divisive plot/message of the movie.
Is there even a plot or message in this movie!? Of course there is, but it seems to be one of the most divisive aspects of 2001. Kubrick, per usual, never really wanted to explain what everything was or what any of it meant. It's mainly a story of evolution and, more so, survival, but with a possibly extra terrestrial influence sparking major turns. Many may say the evolution story starts with the Dawn of Man and the man-apes, but I think the overture is the literal beginning. What we see is nothingness, what we hear is creation.. building up, violently erupting. It's even possible that this is our first glimpse of the monolith, a completely smooth and black rectangle that starts the process, and then triggers key evolutionary moments, such as our ancestors' ability to use tools. One of the more well known scenes cuts us directly from one tool/weapon, to another... a space craft (or bomb as originally planed before Kubrick decided he was done with movie bombs). As our tools advance, the more helpful they are toward our survival... but also more dangerous as well. We see from the bone being used to kill a member of the same species to HAL finding Dave and the crew unnecessary and even dangerous for the mission. But still, we survive and we evolve. At the center of it all, seems to be the aforementioned monolith. We never get an explanation, so just as command's message says, "Its origin and purpose still a total mystery." I like to think that it's no less a tool as all the others. Be it a tool of some other being or consciousness that decided to intervene, or a tool of our own making in order to preserve and repeat the process of creation, evolution and survival from the ascended/starchild state or beyond. I think one of the best things about a film like 2001 is how it isn't directly self-explanatory. I'm guessing we'll see a few different views from the group.
As I said I would, I'm leaving a ton out of this mess of a review, which I suppose could be good for later discussion (if it happens). But really, I feel like I'm having a hard time giving a worthwhile synopsis and explanation of everything great about 2001. I didn't even touch on the many scenes to admire, such as the score driven space travel, the star-gate, HAL's conversation with Dave, HAL reading their lips, HAL's deactivation, and the wormhole bedroom Dave finds himself in, etc. The portrayal (and voice) of functional and advanced AI, and how it goes wrong, is certainly worth noting, and always a solid topic. Anyway, I'm going to throw it to you guys... and I look forward to different takes and descriptions, and how you each grade the movie, including Drew's spiteful C or D!
As for me, you already know this is a masterpiece and A+