Archive for August 1st, 2009

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968, directed by Stanley Kubrick

The Story: Monkeys kill each other. Millions of years later, a murderous computer is dismantled while singing a vaudeville tune. An astronaut travels through a wormhole, ages rapidly, and is reborn as a gigantic fetus floating amongst the stars. Sleek, black monoliths appear intermittently. Lots of ships and satellites and stations floats through outer space.

The plot both is and isn’t the point of 2001: A Space Odyssey. On the one hand, its rather sketchy (and on paper, ridiculous, as the above indicates) plot is easily overwhelmed by the cosmic light shows, the long demonstrations of space travel technique and ritual, the passages featuring the apes who can’t talk and the bloodless bureaucrats who can but probably shouldn’t, and of course the lavish visual effects (which hold up so much better than CGI from two years ago – or for that matter, from this year). On the other hand, if the overarching plot seems haphazard and thin, the narrative arc – spanning millions of years as the human race progresses from a mindless ape to a cosmic star child – is all-important. Composing the arc are several generally separate stories, four in all: the prehistoric men, the trip to the moon sponsored by Howard Johnsons, the showdown with HAL, the mystical and mystifying finale. (more…)

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