This post is a part of a series of movie reviews of the IMDb Top 100 Movies. For more information on this, you can check out my blog post. This review may contain spoilers.
2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, is largely considered to be one of the most iconic science fiction movies of all time. It was directed and produced by the legendary Stanley Kubrick and inspired by Arthur C. Clarke‘s short story The Sentinel. Clarke and Kubrick worked on the screenplay together and soon after the movie was released, Arthur published the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. What makes this movie stand out among other sci-fi films is its minimal use of dialogue and heavy dependence on classical music as a part of the soundtrack, which I enjoyed. It was a refreshing break from the abundance of special effects and pew-pew-pew that modern sci-films seem to stack on.
Who needs light sabers when you’ve got the bones of a Tapir.
The story starts off in pre-historic times with a bunch of hairy, apelike Australopithecus (wiki’d that) foraging around and doing regular Australopithecus stuff. They come across a giant black monolith, which seems to have appeared for no particular reason. As if gleaning knowledge from this black monolith, one of them soon learns how to use the bones of an animal as tools. They use this new-found proficiency in arms to kill the leader of an opposing tribe and secure a watering hole for their own tribe.
You’ve found Monolith! +1 intelligence, +3 attack, -2 understanding.
The next scene fast forwards us four million years into the future where Dr. Heywood Floyd (played by William Sylvester) heads to the moon where they discovered a strange unidentified object buried underground, dating back four million years. Yup, you guessed it. They found a giant black monolith. They examine the monolith in a very Australopithecus-like fashion and then take a few photos to upload on whatever social media platform they had in 1999 (probably Geocities). Just at the end of the act however, sunlight hits the monolith and a loud screeching radio signal is emitted from the monolith.
Cut to the next scene eighteen months later, we see Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole on a manned mission to Jupiter along with three other crew members who are asleep in cryogenic hibernation. Their ship, Discovery One is controlled by an onboard computer called HAL 9000. Everything seems fine and dandy until HAL discovers a fault in the ship’s antenna. When they retrieve the faulty component using a (pretty cool) space pod, they find nothing wrong with it. HAL states that he is perfect and incapable of error, as all computers believe. So HAL suggests that they put the component back in the antenna to see if it malfunctions. Basically he double dared them to prove him wrong. However, things escalate when HAL catches the two planning to disconnect him if he’s wrong. So in a fit of calculated computer logic, he sends one of them adrift in outer space and terminates the life of the three sleeping crew members. Bowman survives and somehow manages to shut off HAL, but not before HAL gets to sing his creepy rendition of “Daisy Bell“. Bowman then learns that the reason they are being sent to Jupiter is because this giant black monolith which they found on the moon (sound familiar?) sent a radio signal to Jupiter. So of course, they just have to find out why and to whom.
“Shake It Off? I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
In the final act of the movie, Bowman has arrived at Jupiter and finds another giant black monolith orbiting the planet. Honestly, any normal person would get tired of finding giant black monoliths at this point. But anyways, he goes out in his spacepod to check it out and immediately gets sucked into a vortex of colorful lights and trippy waveforms. I really have no idea how to describe it. He ends up in a classically decorated bedroom and sees himself grow older and older in this room, not exactly sure how to describe it again. By the end of the scene, he’s an old man and on his death bed when the giant black monolith appears again. As he reaches his hand out, he transforms into a strange fetus in an orb of light. And I think I need to watch or read the sequel to figure out why exactly.
Confusion is my mistress, for she knows nothing I do.
Despite the film’s extraordinarily slow pace, I quite enjoyed it. The main reason why is because of the absolutely brilliant soundtrack that penetrates your brain while you watch the movie. I found myself paying more attention to the soundtrack during certain scenes like when Frank goes out to replace the antenna component and all you can hear is his breathing. And then there’s this creepy wailing orchestra music that plays at certain instances of the film. It is by far the ominous, unearthly and unsettling piece of music I have ever heard. I want it as my ringtone.
Memorable Movie Moment:
When Bowman disconnects HAL 9000 and HAL sings the chorus of Daisy Bell. Creepy, yet awesome.
2001: A Space Odyssey definitely proves why it deserves to be on this list. With its breathtaking soundtrack, visual effects and imagery, its a strong contender as one of the best and weirdest sci-fi films. Plus, I never get tired of saying giant black monolith, even after using it six times already.
At number 97 on the list, we have another Billy Wilder classic, The Apartment up next. Let’s see if its better than the last one.
PS: Happy Birthday Pratibha! I remember you saying that this is one of your favorite movies and its a weird coincidence that I reviewed it on your birthday.Follow Clause7 on WordPress.com