Tuesday, 13 October 2015

2001: A Space Odyssey

It would seem that Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey is less of a movie to be understood, and more of a series of vast messages to be interpreted by audiences across the world. Kubrick does not so much give the viewer a strict plot to follow but rather indicates specific themes and ideals that will run throughout constantly and give the audience something to think about. In terms of Narrative you become a passenger upon different voyages through space, initially as part of a mission looking into a suspected life force, second of all you begin to follow the story of David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) on their thoroughly unsuccessful journey to Jupiter, due to the malevolent artificial intelligence known as HAL being present on board. Lastly we see David's trip through acidic galactic landscapes where he eventually meets older versions of himself in a large plain rom, all building up to a gigantic foetus, we can only assume as David, watching over his home planet, Earth.

Fig 1: 2001: A Space Odyssey

A huge aspect of Kubrick's creation which has made it such a well known piece of work over the years is the design. You cannot help but notice the intricate details that have gone into creating set pieces and costumes such as HAL's interface or David's space suit. Without such small aspects of the film being handled so well it would become extremely difficult to immerse yourself in the vast universe Kubrick's has sculpted. A long with tiny details working together to craft a believable universe the viewer also becomes a spectator of towering rocket ships, as Katie Muir describes them as "little more than Airfix models, but he makes them majestic, even awesome in the proper sense of the word" (Muir, 2014).
Fig 2: 2001: A Space Odyssey
A recurring feature of 2001: A Space Odyssey is the technique of explaining a space with not one establishing shot but many. The opening features a number of different angles of the same area presented to the viewer in a way that helps set the scene for the iconic primate jump cut scene. In another review it has been described as "an overpowering experience, awe-inspiringly photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth, groundbreakingly enhanced by Douglas Trumbull." (Kermode, 2014) which seems difficult to disagree with once you have viewed it. Establishing shots vary in styles throughout , Kubrick allows us to explore interiors of detailed spacecraft's and vessels with beautiful shot's that follow subjects around an area, casting the entirety of the set into focus. A prime example of this being used could be when we see David's co pilot Frank running around the spacecraft in circles and the camera follows, this is an extremely effective way of allowing an audience to explore an otherwise complicated space with ease. Something that Kubrick pulls off with not only success, but with a unique style.
Fig 3: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Long winded establishing shots not only help explain set's in this movie, they set the pace as well. 2001: A Space Odyssey is flooded with shots that feel slow and monotonous, something that seems cast intentionally. It seems as though Kubrick is so proud of the sets and tiny details he has put in place he deems it necessary to allow the viewer extra time to take in. The pace is extremely slow throughout the film and becomes a trait that you seem to value by the time the credits role, as it forces the viewer to watch each shot with extra focus which in turn helps you completely immerse yourself in Kubrick's world.

You cannot argue that 2001:A Space Odyssey would stick out like a sore thumb in modern day cinema, and you can only imagine that it did so in its own time also, something which ultimately becomes a charming quality rather than a downfall in Kubrick's vast and intelligent creation. Josh Spiegel describes it as "one of the true monoliths of all cinema" (Spiegel, 2014) and I think the vast majority of movie lovers would find it rather difficult to disagree with.


Muir, Katie, 2014, Classic film of the week: 2001: A Space Odyssey
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/film/reviews/article4279999.ece Accessed on: 13/10/15

Kermode, Mark, 2014, 2001: A Space Odyssey review – Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi epic back on the big screen
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/nov/30/2001-a-space-odyssey-kubrick-sci-fi-epic-back-big-screen Accessed on: 13/10/15

Spiegel, Josh, 2014, History of Film: “2001: A Space Odyssey”
http://moviemezzanine.com/history-of-film-2001-a-space-odyssey/ Accessed on: 13/10/15

Illustration List

Fig 1, Poster, 2001: A Space Odyssey
http://theredlist.com/wiki-2-20-777-796-view-1960-1970-profile-1968-b2001-a-space-odyssey-b.html Accessed on: 13/10/15

Fig 2, Screenshot, 2001: A Space Odyssey
http://mentalfloss.com/article/56059/morning-cup-links-2001-space-odyssey-trivia Accessed on: 13/10/15

Fig 3, Screenshot, 2001: A Space Odyssey
http://theschleicherspin.com/2011/07/04/revisiting-2001-a-space-odyssey-the-best-film-of-the-1960s/ Accessed on 13/10/15

1 comment:

  1. Thoughtful and well-written Lewis - it sounds as though you really enjoyed the film :)