Jump to content
Welcome to the new Earwolf Forums! Read more... ×
Sign in to follow this  
JulyDiaz

2001: A Space Odyssey

Recommended Posts

Paul & Amy journey beyond the infinite to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey! They ask what the film has in common with a Rothko painting, marvel at what 2001 got right about the future, and decide whether to join Team Hal. Plus: Discover what other listeners think that ending is all about!

 

What iconic duo would you cast in a modern Bonnie & Clyde? Call 747-666-5824 with your answers. Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. And watch "The Universe" here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PGkYt6CPJM

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

My history with 2001 (like a lot of the epics on this list) is that I saw it when I was younger, but probably not in 25 years. (Basically I watched a lot of these famous movies in the '90s, as a university student with time and a nearby video rental store. Then I went like 10 years not caring about movies.) The Dawn Of Man sequence was pretty embedded in my memory but a lot of the rest I didn't remember, so watching this week felt pretty fresh.

 

Anyway, I don't have much to add besides that I think it's awesome and I love how it looks and feels and makes you think and is ambiguous and defies convention and defines convention and is fun too.

 

I don't know exactly where it will fall on my ratings, but it will almost certainly be in my top-5.

 

My only nitpicky criticism really is the title. The story seems to be so much more than just one year in time, I don't get why Kubrick & Clarke went with "2001" - esp. since that was only 30 years in the near future. Why date it like that? That feels like an odd choice to me, though granted this is the first time I've watched it since 2001 actually happened haha. Are we supposed to take that this story happened 17 years ago?

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post

One of the film classes I took in university the professor was obsessive with 2001. To him, it was the greatest technical film ever made and would bring it up all the time. The two thing I remember most about what he had to say on the film are oddly related. First, was the Margaret Stackhouse letter. She was a child prodigy and she wrote to Kubrick with her interpretation of what the movie was about. According to my professor Kubrick felt that hers was the most accurate to his ideas and intentions (albeit the quote offered on the following site is not the same.) Here's a link to what she had to say:

 

Margaret Stackhouse's comments on 2001

 

Then he followed it up with the second thing I remember. That is he told the the English majors in the class that 2001 was the Ulysses of the film world. There is no wrong answer about what the true meaning is.

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
One of the film classes I took in university the professor was obsessive with 2001.

 

I first watched 2001 in 8th grade science class, lol. Science teachers can be obsessed with films too! She made us marathon 2001 and 2010 and had us complete a take-home quiz about the 2 films. I think that's why I always thought the monolith was kind of a catalyst in science terms - it speeds up a reaction, but itself does not get used up.

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post

 

I first watched 2001 in 8th grade science class, lol. Science teachers can be obsessed with films too! She made us marathon 2001 and 2010 and had us complete a take-home quiz about the 2 films. I think that's why I always thought the monolith was kind of a catalyst in science terms - it speeds up a reaction, but itself does not get used up.

Did the teacher explain anything about 2001? I don't thinkI would have gotten the movie at all then. I first saw it when I was 8 or 9 and it made no sense at all. I'm pretty sure I didn't even begin to get it until I read an analysis online in high school.

 

I agree with you on seeing the mobility as a catalyst of sorts. I haven't read the Stackhouse letter yet (I will whenI get off work) but the catalyst to a kind of evolution makes the most sense to me.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Did the teacher explain anything about 2001?

 

No, she mainly used the movies to loosely tie it to her lessons. But I remember she thought the baby at the end was a big bang-type event and the universe starting over.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Not the best quality, but still...

 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post

I thought I had seen 2001 until this week when I watched it again and found that aside from a couple of iconic scenes and things I knew from The Simpsons, I definitely hadn't seen it. I absolutely loved it and immediately booked tickets to see Christopher Nolan's 70mm re-release of the film that is playing in Toronto this week only. I'm seeing that on Wednesday - looking forward to reporting about how it looks on a giant screen!

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post

I thought I had seen 2001 until this week when I watched it again and found that aside from a couple of iconic scenes and things I knew from The Simpsons, I definitely hadn't seen it. I absolutely loved it and immediately booked tickets to see Christopher Nolan's 70mm re-release of the film that is playing in Toronto this week only. I'm seeing that on Wednesday - looking forward to reporting about how it looks on a giant screen!

 

Lucky!!!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

Did anyone else Google the full instructions for the zero gravity toilet? Just me then?

I really appreciated how much attention he gave that sign. Really read it through, which suggested that it was serious business.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I find it fascinating that, rather than explain his intentions, Kubrick intended 2001's message to be conveyed directly to the viewer's subconscious, yet so many critics had a violent negative reaction after seeing it.

 

The first time I tried to watch 2001 (in actual 2001), I bailed 45 minutes in because it was "slow" and "boring". My excuse is that I was a stupid kid whose brain hadn't evolved enough to receive the signal and oh shiiiiiiiiiit

 

lP1EBRF.gif

 

17 years later, I am a different person and I love a pensive, open-ended visual experience. The Twin Peaks revival is one of my favorite things in recent memory, and Part 8 "explains" the creation mythos of the Twin Peaks universe (to the extent that David Lynch ever explains anything.) I've lost track of how many time I've watched it. It obviously owes a great debt to Kubrick.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IKUeIEdRMY

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Did anyone else Google the full instructions for the zero gravity toilet? Just me then?

Yes! I took a screengrab every time a sign appeared so that I could read the text later. Typeset in The Future seems to be the de facto resource for most other transcriptions.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

This is probably my favorite film of all time, so I would obviously have it on my list, at #1 in fact. But even taking my personal feelings aside, I think it's certainly earned a spot in the Top 15 because of (1) its massive influence, not just on sci-fi cinema but on science and culture in general and (2) how much it pushed the technology of filmmaking forward. The resonance of 2001 continues to be felt.

 

Like many, the first time I saw it as a teenager I didn't know what it was about. Where's the plot? The action? Sure, some of the scenes were good and suspenseful (the apes and HAL) but there's so much other weird stuff.

 

Then one night after I'd started college it was shown on the local PBS station (pretty late at night) in widescreen format, and I just happened to start watching it . . . and the whole thing clicked. It became a religious experience. That's what I love about it: 2001 is a heavily-detailed "hard sci-fi" movie that also feels like it touches your soul. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of science fiction grapples with religious questions (

), but this is the one that most seems to give off the feeling of having a religious awakening. It's about the evolution of the human race, in both the inspirational and frightening connotations of that word. It doesn't have many characters because humanity is the character.

 

I don't really agree with Amy's take that Kubrick is like more of a "splatter painter" -- I think every one of his films sticks to a theme and develops it, so he's not just doing stuff at random -- but I do love the stories about Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea coming up with new ideas on set that made it into the finished film. I agree with most that Kubrick was one of the best film directors, but there's a certain cult surrounding him that (IMO) gets the wrong idea of what made him great. He's gotten this mythical reputation as the perfect, exacting artist who planned out every detail well in advance and knew exactly what everything meant. The more you learn about him, you'll find that he wasn't like that exactly. He certainly was meticulous and detailed, but he was also above all else a curious person, which means he wanted to listen to people and learn from them. He wasn't above changing his original plan if someone else's suggestion worked better. Every movie he made was based on some prior source material (or in the case of 2001, developed at the same time with the input of a sci-fi author), not something Kubrick came up with alone. Some other directors who try to act like mini-tyrants on set might do well to remember that.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

This is probably my favorite film of all time, so I would obviously have it on my list, at #1 in fact. But even taking my personal feelings aside, I think it's certainly earned a spot in the Top 15 because of (1) its massive influence, not just on sci-fi cinema but on science and culture in general and (2) how much it pushed the technology of filmmaking forward. The resonance of 2001 continues to be felt.

 

Like many, the first time I saw it as a teenager I didn't know what it was about. Where's the plot? The action? Sure, some of the scenes were good and suspenseful (the apes and HAL) but there's so much other weird stuff.

 

Then one night after I'd started college it was shown on the local PBS station (pretty late at night) in widescreen format, and I just happened to start watching it . . . and the whole thing clicked. It became a religious experience. That's what I love about it: 2001 is a heavily-detailed "hard sci-fi" movie that also feels like it touches your soul. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of science fiction grapples with religious questions (

), but this is the one that most seems to give off the feeling of having a religious awakening. It's about the evolution of the human race, in both the inspirational and frightening connotations of that word. It doesn't have many characters because humanity is the character.

 

I don't really agree with Amy's take that Kubrick is like more of a "splatter painter" -- I think every one of his films sticks to a theme and develops it, so he's not just doing stuff at random -- but I do love the stories about Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea coming up with new ideas on set that made it into the finished film. I agree with most that Kubrick was one of the best film directors, but there's a certain cult surrounding him that (IMO) gets the wrong idea of what made him great. He's gotten this mythical reputation as the perfect, exacting artist who planned out every detail well in advance and knew exactly what everything meant. The more you learn about him, you'll find that he wasn't like that exactly. He certainly was meticulous and detailed, but he was also above all else a curious person, which means he wanted to listen to people and learn from them. He wasn't above changing his original plan if someone else's suggestion worked better. Every movie he made was based on some prior source material (or in the case of 2001, developed at the same time with the input of a sci-fi author), not something Kubrick came up with alone. Some other directors who try to act like mini-tyrants on set might do well to remember that.

Pretty much all of this.

 

I was way too young to watch this the first time I did. I was 8-9 and I don't even know how I heard of it. My parents certainly wouldn't have made me watch it. I made my parents record it off tv for me and I was very confused at every aspect. I remember asking my mom why it had black bars on the screen because I'd never seen a letterbox movie before (this was 80s). I didn't know why there were apes in this space movie. I really didn't get the ending. And my mom couldn't answer any of my questions either. But it stuck with me for some reason probably in the "this is a great movie????" kind of way though. I eventually saw it again after reading about interpretations of it once the internet existed. I understood it but I didn't "get" it.

 

Then it came out on DVD in my mid 20s and we had a big screen television and I got it. It wasn't a movie. It was an experience that I still can't put into words. I didn't just appreciate it. I felt it and no movie since (or maybe even before) made me feel that way. Just completely sucked into it. I've seen it since and it hasn't worked on me like that but it deserves a place for that one viewing alone.

 

I agree with you so much about people putting Kubrick on some mythical level of perfectionist. He was a technical master and understood filming a movie so well from his history as a photographer. I've seen completely insane analysis of his work though where every single thing was placed into frame to have a meaning behind it. Kubrick is great but he's still just a guy. I'd recommend Room 237 which is a documentary about some more out there theories on The Shining which really puts some perspective on how far analysis of Kubrick's film can go.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

I thought I had seen 2001 until this week when I watched it again and found that aside from a couple of iconic scenes and things I knew from The Simpsons, I definitely hadn't seen it. I absolutely loved it and immediately booked tickets to see Christopher Nolan's 70mm re-release of the film that is playing in Toronto this week only. I'm seeing that on Wednesday - looking forward to reporting about how it looks on a giant screen!

I wish this were playing near me but there's not a single functioning 70mm projector in my state to my knowledge. I could have gone to the Chicago shows I suppose but never did. I'm very envious of you.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
I thought I had seen 2001 until this week when I watched it again and found that aside from a couple of iconic scenes and things I knew from The Simpsons, I definitely hadn't seen it. I absolutely loved it and immediately booked tickets to see Christopher Nolan's 70mm re-release of the film that is playing in Toronto this week only. I'm seeing that on Wednesday - looking forward to reporting about how it looks on a giant screen!

 

I was lucky enough to see it here and in Spain (4k digital transfer) a couple of weeks ago (It was gorgeous by the way) and the only scratch I think I saw was when the astronaut (Dave maybe) is doing laps around and the ship... Amy made it sound like it was the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse movies... I think she meant grain because the version I saw did not look like a damaged old film...

 

Maybe it was my version and Amy and Paul and Unspooled producer saw an acetate 70mm film version that has that damage

 

Also if some of you missed the opportunity of the roadshow and couldn't catch it in a nearby theater there will be a 4k Blu-ray version available in October https://www.bestbuy.com/site/2001-a-space-odyssey-4k-ultra-hd-blu-ray-blu-ray-1968/6265112.p?skuId=6265112

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
I agree with you so much about people putting Kubrick on some mythical level of perfectionist. He was a technical master and understood filming a movie so well from his history as a photographer. I've seen completely insane analysis of his work though where every single thing was placed into frame to have a meaning behind it. Kubrick is great but he's still just a guy. I'd recommend Room 237 which is a documentary about some more out there theories on The Shining which really puts some perspective on how far analysis of Kubrick's film can go.

 

I forget where I heard it, but it was Peter Hyams being interviewed about meeting with Kubrick before agreeing to direct the 2001 sequel, 2010. The whole anecdote was about being invited into Kubrick's office, ostensibly to get his blessing to make a sequel to the original film, and almost the entire time was spent with Kubrick asking Hyams about how he had done certain things in other films he had made. The time is almost up and Hyams realizes he hasn't actually asked for Kubrick's blessing, so when he does Kubrick just casually replies something like: "Oh yeah, that's fine! Just make it your own thing."

 

Hyams was all worried like he was going to have to prostrate before a God and Kubrick just wanted to learn from him. :)

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

This was my second time watching 2001 (twice this year, no less), and while I wouldn’t presume to attempt an interpretation of the movie, I was struck by how much this movie is driven by fear. Specifically, fear of the unknown and the ineffability of death. It’s almost if the movie is making the argument that fear, and not necessity, is the Mother of Invention.

 

Everyone in the movie is afraid - the apes, the astronauts, HAL, etc. In trying to prevent a panic, Heywood stokes more fear by being tight-lipped about what’s actually happening on Clavius. To keep Dave, Frank, and the sleeping astronauts under control, they weren’t even going to tell them what their “true” mission is until they arrive at Jupiter.

 

However, fear seems to inspire innovation. The monolith doesn’t even appear until after the leopard attacks and kills one of the apes. Up until then, they were living an idyllic little life among their tapir buds. When the monolith appears, they approach it fearfully, literally just scratching its surface. Afterwards, the Bone Ape gets his inspiration, not just to make a physical weapon, but how to use the fear it generates as a weapon in and of itself. Basically, the leopard kills an ape, the apes become afraid of death, Bone Ape creates a weapon, the fear of weapon keep the other apes under his control. And it is this fear that will inspire mankind to evolve. Fear of Bone Ape will inspire Ax Ape; Ax Ape will inspire Arrow Ape, and so on. This progression is what we see play out when the bone turns into the Space Station. (Or, as The Simpsons put it, “That board with a nail in it may have defeated us, but the humans won't stop there. They'll make bigger boards and bigger nails. Soon they'll make a board with a nail so big it will destroy them all!“)

 

Similar to the apes, when we catch up with humanity, they are living their own idyllic, tapir-friend existence. For instance, despite being filmed at the height of the Cold War, we see Russians and Americans living in harmony. However, despite all our advances, there is still this looming specter of death and fear of the unknown (the moon monolith) that propels us onward - this time to Jupiter.

 

At the end of the Second Act, Dave is presented with a choice. Upon learning of what they were actually sent out there to do, he goes on with the mission. He could have aborted - he probably should have aborted - but he’s driven onward. In other words, he’s not allowing himself to be governed by fear. And when he arrives, all he finds is himself.

 

There’s an interesting trajectory at the end where Dave sees himself eating and then becomes that version of himself. He then sees himself infirm and he becomes that. Finally, he’s faced with the monolith and you have to almost assume that this is him, as well. That he too is this unknowable object.

 

It’s seems important to me that, unlike the apes, Dave doesn’t seem to be reaching out to the monolith in fear. He is almost pleading with it. To me, this suggests that once humanity can accept that some things are simply unknowable, we will cease to fear them. And once we can do that, we can escape the cycle of innovation based out of fear - which, as the movie depicts, has never really turned out that well.

 

Therefore, to me, The Star Baby represents optimism. The movie begins with death and ends with birth. It’s a second chance for humanity to do it right. It’s asking us, “Think of all these things we’ve invented because we were afraid. Just imagine what we could a do if we turned out focus toward promoting life?”

 

Anyway...I’m sure none of that makes any sense.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post

I've seen this film twice and this episode definitely made me realize that I need to see it on the big screen someday (if they play Christopher Nolan's restored version in an Tokyo theaters any time soon I'll check it out).

 

I loved Paul & Amy's discussion of how 2001 is one of the first space movies to imagine interstellar travel as mundane. The focus on details like the floating pen, the gravity shoes, the hairnet that the flight attendant wears to keep her hair from floating all over the place, the synthetic-looking food. I feel like this is a dramatic departure from a lot of the pulpy / shiny scif-fi movies of the fifties, where characters spent a lot of time using goofy-sounding language and staring in awe at everything they saw. And just like everything else in 2001, that whole "space is just a job" vibe would carry over really effectively into movies like Alien.

 

One other thing: I love the way that silence works in this film. Specifically the way that dead silence in space (in contrast to a lot of other space movies that make lots of noise) intensifies this feeling of loneliness and isolation, driving home the idea that you are really, completely on your own.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post

I loved Paul & Amy's discussion of how 2001 is one of the first space movies to imagine interstellar travel as mundane.

 

I was thinking about Cam Bert's teacher referencing Ulysses, and how that relates to 2001, and while there's a lot of differences in creation -- Joyce purposely fills his novel with puzzling obscurities, Kubrick just ambiguous, unexplained, subconscious moments -- but the mundane would be the best correlation. That's what Joyce brought to literature, just writing about everyday moments. Kubrick brought it to sci-fi in a similar way.

 

(Further, the movie is called a 'Space Odyssey' and Ulysses is also based on The Odyssey.)

 

My brother is a bit of a Joyce scholar, and his advice for Ulysses was always to "don't worry about it, just read it." Don't fret over not understanding every moment or word, just enjoy reading through it. And I think that's similar to 2001: puzzling over it all is fun! but it's not necessary, and as many of you have noted, if you just EXPERIENCE it, you can be wowed.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×