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2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] - 4.97

Confirming that art and commerce can co-exist, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the biggest box-office hit of 1968, remains the greatest science fiction film yet made and is among the most revolutionary, challenging and debated work of the 20th century. It begins within a pre-historic age. A black monolith uplifts the intelligence of a group of apes on the African plains. The most famous edit in cinema introduces the 21st century, and after a second monolith is found on the moon a mission is launched to Jupiter. On the spacecraft are Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Poole (Gary Lockwood), along with the most famous computer in fiction, HAL. Their adventure will be, as per the original title, a "journey beyond the stars". Written by science fiction visionary Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, 2001 elevated the SF film to entirely new levels, being rigorously constructed with a story on the most epic of scales. Four years in the making and filmed in 70 mm, the attention to detail is staggering and four decades later barely any aspect of the film looks dated, the visual richness and elegant pacing creating the sense of actually being in space more convincingly than any other film. A sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two (1984) followed, while Solaris (1972), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Abyss (1989) and A.I. (2001) are all indebted to this absolute classic which towers monolithically over them all.

On the DVD: There is nothing but the original trailer which, given the status of the film and the existence of an excellent making-of documentary shown on Channel 4 in 2001, is particularly disappointing. Shortly before he died Kubrick supervised the restoration of the film and the production of new 70 mm prints for theatrical release in 2001. Fortunately the DVD has been taken from this material and transferred at the 70 mm ratio of 2.21-1. There is some slight cropping noticeable, but both anamorphically enhanced image and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (the film was originally released with a six-channel magnetic sound) are excellent, making this transfer infinitely preferable to previous video incarnations. --Gary S Dalkin

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):

Rating: 1:
MY GOD HOW BORING : Oh my god. I can't believe how slooooooooooooooooow this film is. Must have the patience of a tortoise and the life expectancy. I'm sure its great once you have these qualities.

Rating: 5:
A BEATUIFUL FILM : 2001: a Space Odyssey is without a doubt the most challenging and successful film by the late Stanley Kubrick. This is not a film that you watch in order to be entertained or amused. Instead it provides you with a banquet of food for thought, images that linger in the mind's eye long after the movie itself is over. It is a film that you could meditate on.

The film intentionally offers us more questions then it can answer, it is made to puzzle and mystify, but leaves the viewer nevertheless with a sense of awe and reverence (that is allowing that he has engaged himself in the process of viewing it, enjoyment of this film requires some effort on the viewers part) the questions that it does pose are large and ominous, concerning the genesis and destiny of the human race, it's ultimate place in the cosmic design and the existence or lack of some creative intelligence behind the structure of the universe itself.

The first of the films Four Quartets gives us a distinct view of the species past. We see our distant ancestors, half-ape half human, in a state of near starvation. The climate has destroyed most of the plant life and the vegetarian beasts are near starvation. An extra-terestial object, a perfectly smooth and angular black monolith, appears and the animals are simultaneously inspired by it's presence to tool-making and violence. They are transformed overnight into carnevores, and when two tribes encounter each other near a water source, the tribe that has developed tool making capacity, as well as beligerence, soundly destroys the neighboring tribe. The new chief of the winning tribe, empowered by the first vestiges of technology triumphantly throws the bone that he used as a weapon in the air. We see the bone transformed into a floating satellite, which contains nuclear weapons. We soon learn that the world is torn apart by nuclear paranoia. The characteristics inspired by the monument's appearance that once helped us to survive now threaten our very existence.

Once again humanity is in crisis, once again the unearthly presence represented by the black monolith will step in to aid humanity in the next step in it's development. On an exploration of the Moon a monolith identical to the earlier one we have seen is discovered. The governments of the world, normally mortal enemies, have come together in secret to discuss the implications. A mission is arranged. the monument has been engaged in some kind of radio communication with Jupiter. A few men will travel to the destination of the transmission. Most of them will, for most of the time, be kept in a state of suspended animation. The pilot of the spacecraft will be HAL a super computer who has been programmed to imitate all of the traits of human beings.

The film has many outstanding sequences. As usual for Kubrick the use of classical music is outstanding. Most memorable are "Blue Danube" and "Also Spake Zarathustra" (particularly appropriate given the film's theme of transcending ordinary consciousness.) The cinematography is particularly excellent as well, after a single viewing the film's final 30 minutes will haunt you for the rest of your life.

The character of HAL is the most important from the view of the film's central thesis. In imitating all the characteristics of human beings he comes to have their negative traits as well. The paranoia he develops which almost leads to the mission' s ruin is an exact mirror of the paranoia that has allowed the political situation back on earth to reach a point of desperate crisis. The film suggests that these are the traits that we must leave behind if we are to proceed to the next phase in our evolution.

The architecture of the film is also meaningful. The designs of many of the spacecraft are intended to suggest reproductive organs and the process of birth and rebirth, the central motif of the movie. The ending of 2001 is the most spectacular and triumphant ever filmed.

This movie takes a view of life similar to that presented in the poetry of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake. It posits a pattern to history and human evolution that is cyclic, yet progressive, repeating the same events at large intervals, yet with the human race as developing according to the will of a being with a larger purpose in mind. Though we never learn what this purpose is, the film assures us that the human race is not meant for failure, it's destiny is grand beyond it's capacity to imagine. It continues to amaze me that in spite of this film many people continue to regard Kubrick as a misanthrope.

This is a religious film, not in the conventional sense of adhering to any specific creed, but because of it's invocation of wonder at the vast panorama of existence and it's involvement with the deepest and most vital questions of purpose and truth.

In the hands of any other director, this would all be perhaps a little too much. Hollywood's view of life is too puny, usually to encompass the grandeur and intensity of a vision such as this one. But Kubrick was a visionary, he directs with utter confidence, not only that he can handle material of this kind, but that he is the only one to do it. The process of making this film used all of his creative resources. The writing partnership with Arthur C Clarke is the most fruitful in cinematic history. Kubrick had to invent some of the special effects that were used in the movie's astounding climax. The resources to bring his vision to life did not exist at the time, so he brought them into existence.

2001 is a absolutely unique movie experience. Those who miss out on it do so at the detriment of their own intellectual and imaginative capacities.

Rating: 4:
ITS FULL OF STARS.................. : Having loved this film since I was a young girl yet never being able to persuade other's of it's brilliance I'm a little stuck as to how too persuade you to buy it. All I will say is If you are short of patience then forget it.This film demand's concentration.If you give it the patience it demands you will be rewarded.A thrilling ride into the future with a stunning finale.

Rating: 5:
A seven star journey: less a film, more of a revelation : This film was made BEFORE man made it to the moon yet it surpasses almost every other science fiction film since.

The notion that there is something or someone out there is explored not only in the vacuum of space but also the vacuum of not knowing whether or not man COULD land on the moon and what would happen to him if he did.

The film also contains probably the best match-cut in film across all genres: an ape tossing a bone into the air and it rotating over and over itself until suddenly it transforms into a similarly-shaped space station to the score of a Strauss waltz: pure genius.

Keir Dullea is perfect as Dave, but the show is virtually stolen by his Hal 9000 computer, especially when the latter turns to song...

...it is the sort of film that is not dissimilar to a religious experience, borne out by the denouement which is incredibly disturbing and immensely thought-provoking.

This film is classic science fiction: it focusses on the unknown, the knowable and the vulnerability of man.

Rating: 5:
Outstanding : During my childhood I had seen my mother and brother watch this film several times but I was far to young to understand or pay any attention.
Now many years later and after wanting to see this film for my self I went and purchased a copy after curiosity got the better of me and I was not disappointed.
Seeing as this films uses so little words to take you on an incredible journey it seems pointless to use them to explain it.
This film is simply breathtaking and thought provoking, it will stay with you for a long time and engages your mind on levels that you never knew you could think on.

A must see and a true classic, its obvious after seeing this that it has inspired so many other classics as Star Wars, Alien and many more as they have borrowed so many ideas and visuals from this film.

This is going to be one of my all time favorite films!!

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