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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


Today’s cinema adventure: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s landmark 1968 epic that not only revolutionized and legitimized the sci-fi genre but has come to be reckoned as one of the greatest English-language films ever made.  Working from his own screenplay (co-written by famed sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke), which frames the expansive narrative as a sort of interplanetary mystery about the discovery of an ancient monolith and the subsequent space mission to learn its secrets, Kubrick’s mastery turns what could have been a B-movie potboiler into a breathtaking and hypnotic exploration of Man’s relationship with the universe.  With subtle, elegant simplicity, he opens up questions about our origins, our struggle to survive the threats posed both from without and within, our ability to adapt and utilize the knowledge we accumulate, the future towards which we are headed, and the nature of reality itself.  Don’t be fooled by the title into thinking that this film is dated- though the precision of the forecast may be a little off, Kubrick’s vision of the future is decidedly- even chillingly- apt (I defy anyone who knows this film to engage Siri on their iPhone without thinking uncomfortably of the infamous HAL 9000); and the special effects, designed by Douglas Trumbull, capture the immensity, the cold sterility, and the mechanics of space with an authenticity (and a beauty) that has yet to be surpassed, even in today’s CG-laden blockbusters.  I could go on and on about the ingenious use of sound, the now-iconic use of classical music for scoring, the stunning visual artistry which works on every level from the spectacular to the subliminal; and I could warn less adventurous viewers about the lengthy abstract climax which defies the logic of linear storytelling; but it seems far more useful to encourage anyone who has yet to see this cinematic treasure to do so ASAP- and preferably, if you are lucky enough, on a big screen as it was meant to be seen, as I did last night.  I can’t guarantee you won’t hate it- some do, for various reasons- but at the very least, you owe it to yourself to experience one of the masterpieces of contemporary cinema; and however you react to it, it will be sure to stimulate thought and conversation, and what more could one possibly ask from a work of art?


About jpkcinemaadventures

Reviewer for the Los Angeles Blade. Not just a writer who loves film, a film buff who loves to write.

4 responses to “2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

  1. Pingback: Kubrick at LACMA « JPK's Adventures in Cinema

  2. Pingback: Paths of Glory (1957) « JPK's Adventures in Cinema

  3. Pingback: Cloud Atlas (2012) | JPK's Adventures in Cinema

  4. Derek, ⋅

    Try Leonard wheat’s book,Kubrick’s 2001;A Triple Allegory,seems all events and people are from Homer’s Odyssey and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra-which also opens at sunrise,ending with the hero(who slew God,made in man’s image=HAL)having an interrupted last supper befor e the arrival of the overman,like a child,a ”light-surrounded” being!


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