Classic Film Kid: 2001: Space Odyssey

Classic Film Kid: 2001: Space Odyssey


Hi guys, it’s the Classic Film Kid here, and with the 5th entry in my reviewing blog, we are taking a step into the mind of Stanley Kubrick. Even though he is a very stripped-back guy (surprising, I know), I am absolutely positive this was made by a side of him that no-one should be introduced to: his subconscious. At least, I think so, anyway. Enough of that, let’s review one of the most thought-provoking science-fiction films in all of cinema, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Is this a classic? Were the crew all recovering from a hangover? Well, let’s find out.

This film came out in the 1960s, a time where psychedelic art, cinema and music was at its peaks. Some great examples of this for us film lovers are like Yellow Submarine and Easy Rider. Although that still doesn’t explain really what the storyline is, which is extremely metaphorical up to the point that it’s almost terrifying. Basically, to understand this movie, you have to think of it this way. This film is basically one big 150 minute idea on technological and human evolution as well as extra-terrestrial life, through the eyes of a psychologically mad alcoholic.

We begin with the awesome classic theme, Also sprach Zarathustra, set to a gorgeous shot of the sun rising over a planet I’m assuming is Earth, and from this shot, I knew that this film was going to definitely capture the feel of space, with its absolutely immaculate production and set design, as well as its atmospheric soundtrack, which incorporates a lot of classic music with a slight synthesiser edge to it. It’s definitely one of the best interpretations of space I’ve seen in a film, it’s lush the way it’s crafted.

Like I said earlier, this film shows the progression of humanity and technology’s evolution, and it’s amazing how Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke explored these themes of space and technology in just under 2 1/2 hours. This is explored through the appearances of a strange black monolith, which appears in 4 different times and places, all shown in this film.

The 1st is millions of years ago in the Earth’s past, where it appears during feuds between 2 ape tribes. They are somehow guided by the monolith and then use bones as weapons. The 2nd is millions of years later on the Moon, where an ancient object, the monolith, is disovered on the moon, where sunlight strikes the monolith and a high-pitched frequency emits from the object. The 3rd appearance is on a flight to Jupiter, which predominantly takes up about 1/2 of the film, and the 4th is… We’ll get to the last one later. Trust me.

These appearances of the monolith create a really engaging narrative to show these technology and artificial-intelligence developments, and I was actually really invested in these particular sections of the film.

Now let’s talk briefly about the characters, which are by far the weakest aspects of the film. They all feel sort of disposable and always speak in a way with very little emotion. I know this is probably the intention of Kubrick, but you need them to be characters who are relatable, that you feel as if you’re on this journey with.

I mean, look at one of my previous reviews of Stand By Me. You are on this great little journey with these really cocky, cheeky teenagers who are unbelievably likeable. Yes, I know that Stand By Me and 2001 cannot be anymore different in terms of every single aspect of a film, but it is a good example of a slightly linear story, but with characters who are just so damn likable that the story is then elevated. This film is the polar opposite. The story, I must keep stressing, is phenomenal. It’s very inventive, unbelievably clever, and this is me not even joking, the script for this movie is sensational, it’s just a shame really that the most interesting character here isn’t actually human.

I am, of course, talking about Hal, a computer intelligence appearing in the Jupiter section of the film. This is by far the movie’s most interesting way of showing technology progress, as we see Hal thinking for himself, becoming more human than the actual humans, disagreeing with things the characters are saying, which then causes the characters and us to become suspicious of him, and even when the characters start discussing what they should do with him, he even registers their conversation via lip-reading. It also leads to a truly haunting final scene with him, where he starts returning to his earliest programming memory of singing the song, ‘Daisy Bell.’

OK, now we’ve got the main parts out of the way, let’s talk about the last 15-20 minutes of this film. Yee-ha, this is going to be fun.

This is where the psychedelic side of 1960s film just invades this movie, in fact it doesn’t only do that, it kind of explodes like a Mythbusters prop onto screen and starts blinding you. All of the weird multicoloured fluorescent lights as this character’s pod is speeding through god-knows-where is when I knew that this was going to be the weirdest and trippiest film I have ever seen.

I mean, it’s a really cool scene, the look of the place where he ends up is gorgeous, the lighting, the set design, it’s all really good. It’s just unexplainable, mind-boggling, and – words can’t even describe. I first watched this film a few months ago and the only thing I could utter was ‘What? What? What?’ on a loop like I was a broken record. And of course, who can forget? THE BRIGHT BABY ABOVE EARTH.

2001: A Space Odyssey should have been called A Space Oddity. It’s weird and let no-one tell you otherwise. But it’s also a really thought-provoking film. The messages and themes of this movie are conveyed expertly in a really bizarre narrative that actually makes the whole thing really interesting. The look of the film, of course, is incredible, I mean it’s Stanley Kubrick, who expects anything else from him. Yes, the characters basically do nothing, but in a way I know that this was the intention of Kubrick to make the humans very stripped-down, quite emotionless, and I appreciate this decision. Overall, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic. You just have to realise it is.


Well, that’s over with. Boy, I enjoyed that, and I hope you enjoyed it too. My next review will be for either To Kill A Mockingbird or Die Hard (yes I’ve seen it, I don’t care if I’m only 12), and this is the Classic Film Kid, signing off!

Alex Paine

Alex Paine started reviewing films on the site IntoFilm when he was 9, but now his forte is classic films and TV on the wonderful site The Geek Show. He puts his opinions into detailed reviews with plenty of geeky banter on the side. And in terms of classic films, he has seen some of the greats. Although he still hasn't watched Citizen Kane. Or any of the Godfather films. Or The Shawshank Redemption. Or Apocalypse Now. Or - Let's just say he has a lot more work to do.

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