2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:39 am


2001: A Space Odyssey directed by STANLEY KUBRICK
To examine and analyze this film  - a film I didn't understand or like when I first saw it as a teen during some poor TV airing - it sometimes behooves me to use the comments of someone else, someone who may be a big fan of the film.  In this case, I'll use the remarks of Tom Hanks; yes, the Tom Hanks.  It was all here, in the December, 2000 issue of Space Illustrated magazine:

To begin with, this is not my favorite science fiction film. This isn't even my favorite Kubrick film (that would be A Clockwork Orange). But, what has happened over the past 30 years is that I find that the positives outweigh the negatives with this film for me now, if just slightly. (All following quotes/info from Tom Hanks taken from Space Illustrated magazine).

Let's begin with the first 20-minute sequence, with the apes; I don't want to call them simply monkeys. Isn't the point that these are not apes, not simply versions of today's chimps or gorillas? These are something in-between apes and homo sapien, an early version of a human being.
Tom Hanks wrote:In every other movie prior to that, it has always been (launches into a melodramatic narrator voice) 'At the Dawn of Man, the primitive beast that will soon rise to the heavens...' And 2001 didn't have anything like that. And yet I was able to comprehend what was going on somehow. Like the rival ape factions fighting over that water hole. And my God, when that bone gets thrown up in the air and you make that transformation into an orbiting...
..............the greatest jumpcut (more, time-cut) in the history of cinema. This was a jumpcut of about one million years.


We all know that film is a visual medium. Kubrick's strength has always been to take advantage of that and perhaps exploit this aspect. Every frame, every shot - at least, as his intention - is beautifully composed, though, at times, static (his background as a still photographer). He went overboard with this approach in Barry Lyndon (1975), for example, with every shot intended as a painting on film. The results were dull. There was this same danger in 2001 and many people do find it boring.

However, as Hanks opines, isn't it possible that Kubrick was using the medium of film to better effect than the conventional wisdom? That he was attempting a more PURE approach in using film to convey information? That he didn't wish to rely on such elements as dialog, which just muddy up the cinematic waters? If filmgoers are accustomed to watching films in a certain way (images filled with dialog) and resist this alternate approach, does this automatically condemn this alternate approach as inferior? This new approach also defies the conventions of silent film stylistics, which concentrate on filling the screen with brash movement to compensate for lack of sound and static camera shots.
Tom Hanks wrote:Bowman and Poole (the astronauts aboard Discovery)  did not interact the way guys in movies interact. They didn't even nod at each other; they just started eating dinner, which I thought was fantastic. It had the absolute total ring of authenticity.



But, there was dialog in the film - later. It's just that the harsher critics of this film find this dialog and the acting to be rather dry and, again, monotonous. And, minimalist? Perhaps.
Is it possible that some viewers are not looking at the film closely enough? That Kubrick demands more than the usual attention? One example stands out for me: the scene with Dr. Floyd (William Sylvester) on the space station, when a Russian character quizzes him about the situation on the moon. There is that rather long pause from Floyd before he gives a non-answer. As with the other two main characters in the film (the  astronauts), Floyd's character seems almost bereft of emotion and behaves like an automaton.
And yet...and yet, I watch this scene now and can see the wheels turning in Floyd's mind as he composes this non-answer in his mind. Now, as for the unemotional astronauts...

Tom Hanks wrote:I understood the pressure these guys were under, what a hard job this must have been. I did not think it was miraculous fun that Frank Poole ran around and around that centrifuge for his exercise. I actually thought, man, that's got to be monotonous.  The scene that blew me out of my hut when I saw it was Frank's birthday greeting from home, because he had no joy in the experience. This guy just sat there looking at it with a dead expression. That meant isolation and loneliness. And a kind of merciless professionalism that had to keep emotion in constant check, otherwise these guys would, number one, go nuts, and, number two, wouldn't even get to make the voyage in the first place. For me, it elevated David Bowman and Frank Poole. If you were going to be 18 months out in space on the way to Jupiter, you had to be one of the most mentally tough and accomplished human beings on the face of the planet.
Hanks should know whereof he speaks; he studied real-life astronauts for his role in
Apollo 13 and when he produced the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon.
I'm not sure I completely agree with Hanks, though. His analysis of the astronauts doesn't really explain the robotic attitudes of the other characters, the few that we see. I believe Kubrick did the now obvious observation that mankind had transferred much of its humanity to HAL, the computer; at the time, this was subtle - not having been done before. HAL, as shown through the contrast of the machine's emotional behavior versus the unemotional human beings, was depicted as the next step in intelligent lifeforms. Then, as we know, humanity is depicted as evolving into the next step at the end (the Starchild) since it had reached an obvious dead end in their current incarnation - HAL showed this to the audience; HAL was the next human, whereas humans needed to move on to a kind of godhood.

Am I making this up as I go along? Maybe - but, you have to admit, this film promotes some unusual debate. And, we don't get that with most films, do we?

I think many people also forget nowadays just how far ahead 2001 was in terms of depicting outer space, the space stations/vehicles, the suits and, especially, the moon - the silence, the majesty, just the dark yet bright and sleek visualization of it all. Remember, this was released before we had actually set foot on the moon. How many other films actually showed the lack of noise in space? Not many. I can find no fault in any of the visuals and they still hold up extremely well today. In watching it on the latest HD TV, the film still matches or surpasses any of the current CGI-effects ridden films of the past decade, in my opinion.... over 40 years later, still effectively modern.


As for the final act, when surviving astronaut Bowman begins his journey in some light show and ends up in a seemingly baroque living quarters, even Hanks isn't sure what to make of all that.
Tom Hanks wrote:I didn't understand everything that happens once Bowman leaves Discovery and what was going on, but it certainly did look cool. When they put in those quick shots of the tortured face of David Bowman as he's screaming inside his helmet, I was able to figure out, okay, this is happening to him and it's not just some cool ride.
_______ (did Hanks just contradict himself?).

I will add this: watching 2001 again, I realized how it has influenced almost every science fiction film since. Some of it is small and unexpected; when the Discovery first appears, the music is almost identical to the tones used in calm space scenes of such films as Aliens (1986) (I bet that Jim Cameron's a fan).

Want more argument? When I was watching a small part of this film recently - the very first scene with our apelike ancestors - my cat suddenly walked up and rose on its hind legs, gazing at the screen. Was it the clarity of the picture, some crispness not there in other films? I dunno. But the cat had never done that before.



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2001 - the movie

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:10 pm


Here is one more observation from Tom Hanks, in regard to one particular scene in the film, just to add on another layer to the overall view:
Tom Hanks wrote:I had seen the movie 11 times before I was really able to piece together how subtle Haywood Floyd's briefing session (about the monolith) is to all those people in that white room at the moon base... The entire film is explained right there. He gets up there and says he doesn't need to stress to them all what secrecy means here, what the shock to societies and cultures would be if this information got out half-cocked... and, 'by the way, we're going to need signed oaths of secrecy from everybody.' And nobody bats an eye.  They all just kind of say, 'yeah, yeah, we know all about that. How much longer? Well, I don't know, we're going to have to see how it goes.' Every time I watch that scene, I think it's a miracle of screen acting on the actor's part because it emerges as a real conversation. What he's saying there - without having to say it - is, 'you guys have found something that is so big, all of life is going to change once we figure out what it is that we've come across here.' You know, by the way, our roles in the universe are forever diminished..

Is Hanks reaching here? Is he seeing something he WANTS to see? Or do we really need to look more closely at such scenes than those of other films? Hanks IS approaching this as a fellow actor, of course.  Perhaps he just sees it differently than the average viewer, and always will.


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new modern trailer

Post  BoG on Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:13 pm

What if '2001: A Space Odyssey' were a modern blockbuster?

http://now.msn.com/2001-a-space-odyssey-trailer-cut-into-a-modern-blockbuster

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick created the iconic science fiction film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” with a lot of subtlety and very limited bass. Today, it seems like every sci-fi flick is a super-expensive blockbuster featuring fast cuts, terrifying monsters, and a soundtrack designed to blow out every eardrum in a ten-mile radius. So what would happen if someone decided to ruin “2001” by making it as a modern movie? While you can be sure some Hollywood exec somewhere is salivating at the very thought of a gritty “2001” reboot, Film School Rejects have taken it upon themselves to recut the trailer into something suitable for today’s audiences. If you’re a fan of strobing lights and oppressive drums, we're sure you’ll love it; if you’re a fan of classic sci-fi, you might throw up.

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Behind-the-Scenes of 2001

Post  BoG on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:19 pm






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