Science Fiction Challenge Part 1 – 2001: A Space Odyssey

3 Nov

I just finished 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I have now watched the number one science fiction movie of all time, according to the American Film Institute.  It’s even hard for me to believe that I had never seen it before.  In case you missed my confession last week, here’s a recap.  I had not seen three of the American Film Institute’s top ten science fiction movies.  I am now in the process of fixing that problem, and I started with 2001. Which, surprising as it may seem, I’m glad I did not see until now.  The main reason being I didn’t like boring movies until very recently.  And 2001: A Space Odyssey is very, very boring.

Now, I want to quickly follow that up by saying that I don’t think that boring is necessarily a bad thing.  In this case, it works.  This film is packed with beautiful shots that really become characters in and of themselves – space, loneliness, isolation, God.  The movie would have been lacking some serious star power had the director just flown from one shot to another.  In addition, the amount of time devoted to every shot means that when something finally does happen, it’s been so thoroughly built up that you are on the edge of your seat.  In my book, boring can be good, even essential.  And it absolutely is in this movie.

Another thing I really liked about this film, and maybe what it is most famous for, is its music.  There were several instances in 2001 where I almost felt that the music was dialogue, several key moments where the music is just so important to the actions taking place on screen that if it wasn’t there the entire scene would fall apart.  It would be like taking the dialogue away from Gregory Peck in the courtroom scene of To Kill A Mockingbird.  There’s almost nothing left.  I’ve never experienced anything like it in a movie before, and it was beautiful.

2001_a_space_odyssey_1

I guess the real question I should be asking is does 2001 deserve to be the number one science fiction film?  I would have to say that I have absolutely no idea, because I have absolutely no idea what happened in the movie.  I think it’s making some pretty strong statements about the relationship between technology and man.  I’m also pretty sure there are some key points made about humans as a species.  However, if you asked me for a detailed plot analysis I would be at a loss.  If you asked my what the movie is trying to say overall, I would be at a loss again.  And I absolutely could not tell you what happened at the end.  I’m not sure if that’s the movie’s fault or my own stupidity.  I suspect it’s some mix of the two.

I said at the beginning of this challenge that watching these movies would improve me as a person and teach me about the world.  2001: A Space Odyssey has taught me that I am not as smart as I would like to believe.  I have also learned that in the movie-making world, a plot is not necessarily important if you want to be number one.  At least in science fiction.

Still kind of confused,

David

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3 Responses to “Science Fiction Challenge Part 1 – 2001: A Space Odyssey”

  1. Lucaish November 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    I agree Lara, watching this movie is an experience.
    How similar was it to ‘Moon’? I haven’t seen it yet, but the trailer for moon made me think of 2001.

    • cintussupremus November 3, 2009 at 5:12 pm #

      Well Lucas, this review was actually written by David, but I completely agree with what he said. It is an amazing thing to behold. It has some similarities to “Moon,” lots of isolation with scarce dialogue and long, holding shots, and the aesthetics are similar to an old science fiction film. But besides that it’s pretty different. “Moon” definitely holds its own.

      • Lucaish November 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

        Ooops! And so it is written by David. Cool.

        Yeah, I’ll have to see ‘Moon’ yet.

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