In the same realm of Under the Skin and The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey might be a movie that may never leave my mind. It’s going to dwell and fester in the darkest corners of my headspace until the day I die. That’s how it feels at the moment anyway. My initial reaction when watching films like this, however few there may be, is one of wondering whether I even like what I’m seeing. Once I realize and accept the film I am watching is nothing even remotely in the vicinity of normalcy, and in some cases complete coherency, I can begin to enjoy and hopefully become wholly enamored with the spectacle on the screen.
In the simplest and most basic summation of 2001 (as it shall hence forth be known i this review/personal interpretation – whatever you want to call this) it is exactly that, a spectacle. It is a visual orgy, an ocular buffet of images that convey a sense of otherworld-ness. It’s fascinating to see that so many science fiction tropes emanated from a masterpiece created forty-six long years ago. The film was so far ahead of its time that upon initial release it was described as an obscure and pretentious failure. As we know now all it took was time for people to realize what they had witnessed.
To this day its purpose and themes are still hotly debated and, based on comments made by Kubrick himself, this deliberation will likely continue for the foreseeable future (and since Kubrick is dead these things will most likely never fully be explained). Some say the book, written in parallel with the film by the screenplay co-writer Arthur C. Clarke, is a skeleton key of sorts to the film’s many unanswered questions. But both Clarke and Kubrick flatly explained that the book was finished during the creation of the screenplay; the screenplay was eventually changed multiple times and therefore the book and film are two different beasts entirely. But it could, at the very least, act as a kind of catharsis if you need kind of clarity, even if it’s just yours alone.
Of all the theories out there, the one I am drawn to most is the Nietzsche Allegory. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a philosophical novel written by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that focuses on the topic of mankind’s potential, and this is directly referenced in Richard Strauss’ musical piece of the same name that plays throughout the film. In the novel he writes that mankind is simply a bridge between ape and something called the Übermensch, which is German for Above-Human or Superhuman. Kubrick himself even hinted that this particular theory holds water saying, “Somebody said man is the missing link between primitive apes and civilized human beings. You might say that is inherent in the story too. We are semi-civilized, capable of cooperation and affection, but needing some sort of transfiguration into a higher form of life. Man is really in a very unstable condition.” To further support this theory, in the chapter of Nietzsche’s novel titled Of the Three Metamorphoses, Nietzsche ascertains the child as the final step before the Überman. This is more support for the interpretation of the light of the ‘star-child’ who appears at the end of the film.
er tRegardless of what you think everything means, one thing is certain; 2001 is a master-class in the sci-fi genre, cinema as a whole and in mankind’s history. Do I think it’s something more than just a movie? Yes. It’s a thought provoking, visual journey into areas not ever explored in cinema previously, and it does so with finesse and determination. It showcased the care Kubrick took with his work and it showed that film doesn’t have to be mindless drivel. Not everything has to be this abstract and profound, but 2001 strives for something far beyond that of just being deemed a “good movie”. It wanted to stand the test of time, and so far it’s succeeding because of its unique exploration of imagination and the pondering of mankind’s potential. It is a fascinating journey into space, time and the consciousness of our minds. For me it was a phenomenal experience and yet another reminder of why I love movies and will continue to do so until the day I die. And like I said, this will be somewhere in my head when I pass on and I am quite content with this. Whether it’s your first time watching it or it’s a reminder of why you love it, 2001 should be experienced by anyone that calls themselves a fan of film. Movies like this come along so rarely, but when they do they change my way of thinking. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me.
Run Time: 160 minutes
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Amazing Nerdskulls
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