Jan. 04, 2012 - Issue #846: Year in review
2001: A Space OdysseyIt's a film Stanley Kubrick summarized simply: three monoliths are left by alien explorers (on earth, on the moon and orbiting Jupiter) to influence and alert them to man's evolution; the third ushers an astronaut into rebirth as a star-child heralding humanity's next epoch. Yet the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, matched Kubrick's photographic eye to a story about watching, transformed him into a director with a sense of the epic, and made one giant leap in sci-fi cinema that's never been matched. (Its overall achievement—in set design, groundbreaking effects, scientific accuracy, technological threat and terse dialogue—merely garnered Kubrick his sole Oscar, for visual effects.)
Kubrick's been stereotyped as a cold director and 2001, based on Arthur C Clarke's story "The Sentinel" with its clinical eye trained on the void of space, seems ready made for a chilly gaze, but it's also lit with a glowing optimism about human progress. A sun rises behind a cold black disc in the opening shot, then suffuses the Earth with a golden light in "The Dawn of Man." Light, in all its tripping-fantastic hues (making it popular with high '60s viewers), flies around Bowman (Keir Dullea) as he's shot towards rebirth.
The glowing globe's echoed, bloodily, by the red cyclopean eye of HAL, the sinister, sentient computer. But then this is a film with one of the most famous match cuts ever. The bone-as-weapon that an early hominid's discovered—the film sees our earthly time as one of tribal warfare, though the classical score argues that music was a soaring innovation—becomes an orbiting satellite millennia later.
The sexually charged fuelling of a plane in Kubrick's previous film, the comedy Dr Strangelove (1964), becomes a balletic dance here as a space plane glides into a revolving space station. Kubrick's hallmark corridor shots culminate in Bowman's light-strobed passage into a new state of being—an entry even more explosive when the 70mm-print was shown on wide, curved Cinerama screens in 1968.
As Kubrick recedes into the past, his films loom larger in cinematic history, but it's 2001, casting so much influence on sci-fi after it, that stands tallest—a mysterious, fascinating monolith of a movie.
Sat, Jan 7 (7 pm); Sun, Jan 8 (4 pm)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
Originally released: 1968
vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy