The World According to Keitho

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2001 A Space Odyssey

Posted by keithosaunders on June 28, 2016

2001 A Space Odyssey is to Stanley Kubrick what Stairway to Heaven was to Led Zeppelin.  (minus the lawsuit) It’s like no other film he ever made.  In fact it’s like no other film I’ve ever seen.  I have seen 2001 dozens of times and it remains riveting, suspenseful, and mind-bending.

A lot of people find this film boring.  There are huge swaths of it with no dialogue — the docking scene at the space station, the scenes in the pod, and of course the psychedelic final 20 minutes of the film.

In fact, much of the dialogue is small talk.  (Almost all of the action in the film unfolds in maddeningly deliberate real time.)  There’s a scene in the 2nd act of the film in which scientist Heyward Floyd leads a meeting at a space station above the moon.  It’s one of the wordier scenes in the film, but most of the dialogue is the exchange of pleasantries between the scientist!

I just finished re-watching the film on a 3 day installment plan.  Day one was the dawn of man through the moon sequence.  Day two was the beginning of the Jupiter mission through the intermission.  Day 3 began with the pod accident.  While astronaut Frank Poole is attempting to replace an ‘antenna control device’ he is rammed by his EVA pod, controlled by HAL, the computer, severing his oxygen supply and causing his death.  This is one of the most chilling scenes I’ve ever seen in cinema.  There is literally no sound in the scene other than Pooles breathing.  Once he is rammed the perspective shifts to his fellow astronaut Dave Bowman and the remainder of the scene — Bowman’s attempt to rescue Poole – takes place in silence.  This is followed by Bowman having to reenter the ship through the airlock and subsequently deactivate Hal.

The 4th act, the descent into the star gate and the evolution of Dave Bowman, is the most ambiguous and provocative part of the film, but for this time around I enjoyed focusing on some of the more mundane happenings:  Bowman receiving a video happy birthday from his parents, the stewardess on the shuttle retrieving a floating, weightless glass of water from a sleeping passenger, and the aforementioned small talk. It was these touches, contrasting with the futuristic and metaphysical, that made the movie realistic, as well as otherworldly.

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3 Responses to “2001 A Space Odyssey”

  1. verdun2 said

    Big, big fan of 2001. Didn’t care much for the sequel.
    v

    • Me too. The sequel tried to explain everything away and tie things up in a neat bow. And you could it doing that sequel thing where it has to hit all the beats: Monolith, HAL, Dave Bowman, *old* Dave Bowman!

  2. FictionFan said

    Yes, I think the mundanity of the dialogue really does add to the whole feel of it – it makes Bowman feel like an ‘ordinary’ man, rather than the typical sci-fi hero. And that in turn makes his evolution seem more credible, somehow.

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