If you’ve heard about the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, you may have wondered: “What is 2001 about?” Perhaps, even if you have seen the movie, you may (as did I) still wonder: “What is it all about?” There are many interpretations on specifics to the question. But in general, I will try to lay out to you information on this movie as such:
- What is 2001: A Space Odyssey?
- The Reviews on 2001
- A Look at 2001
First, what is 2001, and what’s so great about it? 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 film, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, who wanted to make a film on ‘man’s relationship to the universe’; which is what it is. It is a film about the ‘evolution’ of man, going from ape to modern man, to ‘alien’. In all, it is about mankind’s process of evolving, in each stage, into a slightly more intelligent and sophisticated being, shown by their development of new technologies and capabilities. It is a look into the future, which doesn’t just end at 2001, but goes far beyond our time.
2001 is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, and frequently is at the top of polls for greatest movies ever made. It it a work of art that was and is relevant today. And, excitingly, 2001: A Space Odyssey was a contributor to Star Wars, in various ways. First, Stuart Freeborn, the supervisor for the creation of the apes in 2001, created the puppet head of Yoda, in the Empire Strikes Back. And many, many, other similarities are found between Star Wars and 2001, because Star Wars, in many ways, says Brian Young on Star Wars.com, hired crew from 2001, and was visually inspired by it.
So now to the reviews on 2001; As with many of Stanley Kubrick’s films, 2001, despite its success, received mixed reviews. It seems as though, at a first glance, that either the critics had to love it, or had to completely hate it. And, though there are many more positive reviews than negative, here’s a negative one-liner from the Washington post: “it’s less a visionary masterpiece than a crackpot Looney Tune, pretentious, abysmally slow, amateurishly acted and, above all, wrong.”
And here’s a positive review on ReelViews: “2001 is awe inspiring, but it is most definitely not a “thrill ride.” It is art, it is a statement, and it is indisputably a cinematic classic.”
And another positive review from New Yorker: “Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is some sort of great film, and an unforgettable endeavor. Technically and imaginatively, what he put into it is staggering.”
2001 is not a crowd-pleaser, but a work of technical and imaginative art, to give us an opportunity to contemplate its profound meaning.
Now to a Look at 2001: a Space Odyssey. First, here is the general idea of what the movie is about:
The movie starts with the Dawn of Man; Apes, fighting for survival between themselves. These apes, we are told, are clearly the early stage of Mankind. A black, perfect stone slab, a monolith, appears to these apes, signals to them, and they reach for it. Next thing we know is that the apes have discovered how to use bones as weapons.
We fast-forwards to the future, the age of Modern Man, traveling through, and exploring space. Soon they discover the same black monolith on the surface of the moon, and it signals to them.
Fast forwarding yet again, we come to a more advanced age of Man, the age of artificial intelligence, and already man is traveling further than has yet been accomplished; they are on a mission to Jupiter. And, again, the black monolith appears before the spaceship on the mission, and the spaceman follows it, and is catapulted through space time, and ends up growing old, dying, and being reborn as what others have called a ‘Star Child’, the next stage in evolution for man.
What are the apes? They stand for the early infant stage of man. The monolith appears to them, calling to these infants, who then grope and prod the unearthly slab of grey, and, as Roger Ebert says “In a million years…will reach for the stars with the same tentative motion.” Next, we the apes learn how to use a bone as a weapon. The monumental music ‘Also Sprach’, played to this scene, helps along the indication that this achievement is an important development in man’s evolution.
Man, then, is evolving into a greater, more intelligent life form than it was before, and the monolith is the milestone, calling man on to the next step, the next exploration, the next advance in science and understanding of the universe.
2001 is not a drama, and it does not have such a thing as a normal ‘storyline’. 2001 is a work of art designed to, in the words of one reporter, challenge and inspire us.