Upon its release, some critics called 2001: A Space Odyssey sluggish, dull, and unresolved. Fifty years later, it has arguably become the most discussed, analyzed, contentious, and enigmatic film in cinema history. In 1968, 2001 was a quantum leap in filmmaking.
Not only did Kubrick break the constraints of the usual three-act-play, he commenced a new era in special effects along with cinematic experiences still emulated today. Kubrick called it a “mythological documentary,” but it was a new dialect of film.
Arthur C. Clarke co-wrote the script from his novel The Sentinel, but make no fucking mistakes about it, 2001 belongs to Kubrick. Similar to other Kubrick classics, it’s non-linear and vacant of emotion.
For instance, the unpleasant HAL is in fact more human than human. HAL would rather commit murder than admit fault. With that consternation alone, Kubrick’s intense and increasingly validated suspicion of technology beats like a drum.
If 2001 bewilders you, try not to search for transparency where only mystery exists. Forget a resolution; only inquiries are possible. And the eerie star child conclusion (which some call a spiritual happening) lies in the very monolith’s own secrets.
Is it a technological trope? After all, the greatest technologies have contributed to giant leaps in mankind’s advancement (let us not forget the wheel, the gun, flannel shirts, the bomb, the computer, porn on your cellphone… etc).
Such vision has without a doubt made 2001 Kubrick’s magnum opus. It’s remarkable he committed nearly five-years to it while the industry was in an economic crisis. Substantial films were being axed weekly, and MGM was on the precipice of bankruptcy.
Envision Kubrick sending the first few reels of high-strung apes back to the studio. I guarantee the perplexed executives definitely contemplated rescinding their original $10 million budget.
Thankfully though, this cinematic landmark was produced. And today, it still possess the power to captivate, inspire and make us consider who and where we are in a manner few other movies can. In 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey was ahead of its time. Fifty years later, that adage remains the same.
By Brandon Colón