Sunday, November 2, 2008
#111: 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke (based on Clarke's writings, especially "The Sentinel")
Released April 6, 1968
Someone once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. In other words, how can you use one form of art to describe another?
I've always felt that saying was a bit silly, but when I think about writing anything about Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, it starts to make a lot of sense.
How do I sum up one of the greatest cinematic experiences you could possibly have, made by a director who had so much faith in his audience (or so much confidence in his film) that he entirely eschewed conventional storytelling and narrative with this movie? I suppose there's a first, second and third act here, but the first contains no dialogue and the third - still with very little dialogue - will just trip you the fuck out completely.
2001 requires participation on the viewer's part. It requires that you take it in, that you think about what it means or what it means to you. If I were to write about the movie tonight, I'd pretty much just be standing in your way. Why don't more movies let you do that?
To honor Kubrick, I'm just going to take a moment to laud the technical brilliance of his film. Before humans had even landed on the moon, Kubrick took viewers on a realistic voyage into the universe and, by film's end, eternity. Every single detail, the haunting and frightening music, the groundbreaking effects, the perfectly composed shots and beautiful lighting, amounts to an absolute masterpiece.
While I've watched 2001 dozens of times, I finally had the opportunity tonight to see it in a theater. I never usually sit as close to the screen as I did tonight, but I just wanted to feel like I was surrounded by this movie. Though the print wasn't of the best quality and the screen was by no means massive, it was an intense, immersive experience. I highly recommend seeing it in a theater if you have the means.
Regardless of how you manage to take it in, the movie is like nothing else you may ever see, one of the most intellectually and philosophically interesting pieces of art ever put to film. In its own vernacular, it is the Monolith: the touchstone for cinematic progress that helped move the medium forward.
For more on 2001: A Space Odyssey:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia.
- The Wikipedia entry for the 2001 novel, written by Clark during production of the movie.
- A very interesting and lovingly crafted explanation of the movie.
- Buy the DVD or Blu-Ray.
The 2001: A Space Odyssey trailer: