Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2001: A Space Odyssey

Where to begin with this one beyond saying I liked the book much better? This is not a knock on Kubrick. I have great respect for Kubrick. I also have great respect for Arthur C. Clarke. My undergrad thesis was on science fiction and I plan my master's thesis will also be on science fiction. I love science fiction. I love Kubrick's style. Epic Rap Battles of History was right when they said "Every single frame a painting". But this movie is, in a word, dull. Now, no other movie has captured the fact that space is like really totally big, guise, like you don't even know. So big. And quiet. And done it with the panache of adding in stewardesses in miniskirts and bubble helmets. That was a really big thing in the 60's. Interesting how quaint it looks to our sensibilities, or even how sexist, now that we don't view the miniskirt as a symbol of female liberation. Instead, we look back at these shows and movies showing THE FUTURE, and all the ladies are in miniskirts, ridiculous hairstyles, and opaque tights, and we just kind of go "Sure, uh-huh". Then again, considering what the actual fashion trends were in 2001, maybe we would have been better off with the mod space minis. But anyway, that's a diversion from the actual movie. I got very little from the opening, beyond that "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is cool as hell. And the monkey sequence was kind of... eh? I'm not a big monkey person, and watching people in bad monkey suits whack bones around a big monolith was just kind of hard to watch. The section with the HAL-9000 is the part everyone remembers, and there's a reason for it. It does build up genuinely creepy moments. The brain death of HAL as he continues to sing is terrifying, because they'd either have lobotomy patients sing a little ditty or recite the Lord's Prayer while they chunked up their brains with an ice pick. Then everyone remembers there are some crazy lights, and by that point, everyone in the audience is either expected to be too stoned or too confused to remember much else. Since I'm a natural straight-edge, I watched the movie stone-cold sober. It's not that it didn't make sense. It did. It's not that the movie isn't really beautiful in plenty of shots. It is that as well. It's just... well, a series of semi-connected vignettes that are more concerned with establishing atmosphere than forming a coherent narrative. I can't really wholeheartedly recommend this movie to anyone who isn't planning on making space movies or isn't a major Kubrick fan (or isn't a big-time stoner - I understand that was a major appeal). For everyone else, I'd say pick up the book. You can probably read it in about the same amount of time it takes to watch the movie. I can see why this film is important, but important doesn't always translate into enjoyable.

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