Sunday, April 18, 2010

2001: A Space Odyssey

Never having watched 2001: A Space Odyssey was my longest-held cinephile shame. That is, until yesterday's screening. For years, I avoided "Slow Walking on Spaceship Movies" the same way other people avoid "Boat Movies" or "Torture Porn." Solaris was most likely the culprit that began my distaste. Thanks to the 1001 Movies You Must See group, I've righted my greatest wrong.

Despite 2001 being one of the most written about and highest rated sci-fi films of all-time, I knew relatively nothing about it before yesterday. I knew Kubrick directed it and that it didn't star Michael J. Fox even though the poster wants to make you think he is. Going into the film without knowing the details was definitely the way to go. My opinions may have been skewed had I known there was 20-minute acid trip scene and another 20-minute section with men in monkey costumes. Coming in fresh, I was ready for anything and ended up loving everything.

I'll admit, the prelude started pressing my buttons right away but once the visuals arrived, I was hooked. Yes, the movie is long. Yes, the pacing is slow. And yes, the spaceship walking is extremely slow. But as a whole, 2001 was just as good as everyone said it was. It's 3:30AM so this won't be the most technical or thorough review but there are some thoughts that I have to put out there.

When I said that I knew little about 2001, I wasn't exaggerating. I didn't even know what year it was made. Once my wife told me that it came out in 1968, a full nine years before Star Wars, the imagery on-screen became almost unbearably impressive. Stories of ecstatic crowds cheering and applauding when the Star Destroyer flew from overhead have a way of floating around film programs. Star Wars was heralded as sci-fi's savior and a pioneer in visual effects. And while I don't want to take away anything from Star Wars, the visuals and cinematography in this film are, at the least, on par with it's sci-fi successor. It's the type of thing where writing about it may cheapen its impressiveness. I would urge anyone on the fence with this film to do yourself the favor and watch this film. Keep in mind, as Whitney pointed out to me, that it was released before the moon landing.


Goose3984 said...

I have never seen Harold and Maude, there I said it, i feel better now.

elgringo said...

Want to know a little secret? I don't think I've ever made it all the way through Harold and Maude. I've tried a couple times but could never get into it.

Have you seen Being There? I bet you'd love it.

Thomas Pluck said...

2001 is one of those movies that lives up to the hype and gives back what you put into it; if you are distracted, it will be incomprehensible and boring. If you give it your full attention it is one of the most amazing film experiences out there.

Its influence is still felt, from WALL-E to Moon to of course Star Wars, which took the pristine white panels and made them dirty, dinged up and old.

Jonny said...

Apparently, when 2001 premiered in Hollywood, a lot of people walked out of the theater in disgust. I read that Rock Hudson walked right by Kubrick and uttered "what a pile of shit." From what I read, Kubrick loved polarizing the film was upon its initial release, and people thought he was crazy for actually liking that his film made some of the Hollywood elite squirm. What a bad ass.

PS: Being There is absolutely brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Goose3984, go find "Harold and Maude" RIGHTNOW. Go on. I'll wait. It's the best romantic comedy ever. And the weirdest.

I didn't see "2001" for the first time until last year and only knew the hype about it. The first time through I was sure I hated it because it was so slow and there were NO interesting characters -- I mean, just ... NONE. But the second time I saw the technical brilliance of the whole business and came to appreciate it. I even teared up at the "Daisy" scene.

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