Discuss: Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'

Started by MacGuffin, October 27, 2008, 10:37:37 AM

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Discuss: Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'
by Scott Weinberg; Cinematical

We studied it in high school, which made it amazingly boring. I tried again a few years later, but just couldn't get into it. Saw it on the big screen about ten years ago and finally got what everyone was raving about ... but still the film didn't really "connect" with me in any powerful way. But then a few nights ago, I sat down with my awesome 2-disc special edition of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and was blown away as if I'd never even heard of it before. Thousands of writers much cleverer than I have devoted a billion words to this very fine film, but after watching it earlier this week, I was struck by how simple the story actually was. I mean, a film is a work of art, and as such each viewer will have their own interpretation of the experience, but if we're talking about the oh-so-confusing and deliciously ambiguous nature of the plot, um, here's what I saw:

A. Early man is little more than an animal before a mysterious object appears on their planet and signifies the next step forward: The creation of tools, which immediately leads to the creation of weapons, and then we (awesomely) jump-cut to millions of years later. Our first weapon has evolved into our ultimate weapon: A nuclear arsenal poised ominously in outer space.

B. Then we (slowly but very coolly) discover that another mysterious object has been discovered beneath the surface of the moon. When modern man places his hand on the second "monolith," a signal between the moon and Jupiter is opened. Looks like man is officially "ready" for his next step.

C. The most memorable part of the film is the Jupiter journey. That's where two human astronauts are forced to match wits with the ultimate tool: a virtually infallible computer that also happens to have a pretty snotty attitude. What began as a bone has become a super-computer, and it's right about now that mankind has allowed its tools to become just a little too powerful. The computer decides that humans are a variable too volatile too ignore, so in an effort to maintain the Jupiter mission, HAL kills everyone except for one clever astronaut who destroys his ultimate tool just as the journey is ending.

D. Just over Jupiter our one remaining human finds the mysterious object yet again, somehow enters into it, travels through numerous dimensions, and ultimately transforms into the next grade on the evolutionary scale: It's the star-child, baby, and just as the movie ends the being is about to land on Earth.

That's pretty much it, right?

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol

Skeleton FilmWorks


mmm pretty much, yeah.....

I don't understand. Is this the "2001 for dummies" guide or something?

Gold Trumpet

What a stupid article. Even as a former admirer of Stanley Kubrick, I am offended that is all Cinematical can offer is that to why 2001: A Space Odyssey is good. The way the articles focuses on the content of the film is the first mistake. Nothing about the evolution of man in 2001: A Space Odyssey is serious or thoughtful. It only rings of cleverness if you think making a theory that sounds as crackpot as Scientology is a good idea.

The reason the film is heralded to this day has everything to do with filmmaking and storytelling. It is the only major film I know of that has little basis in a human story. 2001 has leading characters and presents a few emotional situations, but it presents them within the larger scheme of a structure and style meant at highlighting the space world around the characters. The way the film creates a space opera and presents such a believable depiction of space life is the clincher.

Then the journey beyond Jupiter is an exhibition of film scenery not seen before or since and that makes the film even more unique. It shows the evolution of the main character, but it does so in a way that requires no standard storytelling. It ends on an extension of the rest of the filmmaking that was steeped in style over substance. Good or bad, 2001 is the only experimental film of its kind that had such a filmmaking scheme through out and was pretty memorable for it.


I'm sorry, Dave, but you can now download HAL 9000 onto your iPhone

The year 2001 came and went, and nothing: No monolith, no orbiting Howard Johnson's, no Pan Am flights to the moon. But you can have one thing: your own personal HAL 9000 computer.

Not exactly built at the HAL plant in Urbana, Illinois, on the 12th of January 1992, the new HAL 9000 app for your iPhone was actually created by Jonathan Mulcahy and is available at the iTunes App Store for 99 cents.

HAL, of course, was the nefarious computer from Stanley Kubrick's classic 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the one that nearly scuttled the mission of the Discovery to Jupiter.

The HAL 9000 app consists of that creepy glowing-red-eye panel. When you touch it, HAL utters several of his deathless phrases. And he still has the greatest enthusiasm for the mission.
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol

Skeleton FilmWorks


Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


At fourteen, [James] Cameron saw the movie that made him want to make his own: Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," the first cinematically exquisite treatment of what had traditionally been B-movie material. "I saw all these cool spacecraft and I wanted to know how the visual effects were done," he said. "I started building my own models of spaceships, from the '2001' model kit and the 'making-of' book, which was quite thick and well researched." After he finished making "True Lies," Cameron called Kubrick, by then a recluse, and invited himself over. They spent a day, in the basement of Kubrick's house in the English countryside, watching "True Lies" at Kubrick's flatbed editing station. Cameron went over the shots—Schwarzenegger in a Harrier jet firing a missile, with the villain attached to it, through an office building and into a helicopter: boom!—so that Kubrick could learn how the effects were done.

Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.




Finally saw it on the big screen.

For decades I refused to watch it on a TV, so it is the first time I see it in its entirety, obviously I've seen many sequences but there were some that were new to me, it was a wonderful experience and worth the wait.

Pretty sure the print was digital, maybe even a bluray? Don't know, I asked someone if they knew how it was projected but he didn't have a clue.


It's a DCP.
And a terrific one.
I saw it once in Mexico city and once last weekend in Monterrey.
Pretty much the best film there is to watch on the big screen.

I Don't Believe in Beatles

that contains, among other things, a brief interview with Kubrick where he discusses the endings of 2001 and The Shining. There are also interviews with Vivian Kubrick, a tour of Elstree Studios, and more.
"A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later." --Stanley Kubrick


Hey, guys, so I re-watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I found this scene where I saw HAL (the supercomputer) hesitating. This was the first instance where I noticed something fishy about HAL's character. So I replayed the scene and I found that it was done using very basic editing. But somehow it had a profound impact on me, because in this one moment you see a trace of HAL's dark and complex mind. So I decided to make a video on it, to show how the simplest of film editing, if done right, can have such a strong impact on the viewer's mind. Do let me know what you guys feel about it.


New Name, Same Typos.


'2001: A Space Odyssey' VFX Pioneer Douglas Trumbull Was "Flabbergasted" When WB Chose Christopher Nolan to Oversee a 70mm Restoration

In 1968, Douglas Trumbull was a 23-year-old animator who had been hand-picked by director Stanley Kubrick to work on a science fiction film called 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull was eventually tasked with pioneering visual effects for several of the movie's most memorable sequences, and the unforgettable results turned him into a legend in the field.

In 2018, Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) oversaw a 70mm "unrestoration" of the movie that he showed at the Cannes Film Festival and later played in theaters in the United States.

Now, Trumbull says he was "flabbergasted" at the studio's decision to choose Nolan to oversee this work instead of him – someone who, you know, actually worked on the original movie.

Trumbull has worked on classics like Blade Runner, The Tree of Life, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but he's probably still best known for his jaw-dropping visual effects work on his first feature film: Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull concocted the effects for that mind-bending Star Gate sequence (which still looks just as great and feels as wholly immersive today as it did when the film first debuted), and he's been an innovator and advocate for VFX for the past five decades. So you can understand why, in a recent interview with Indiewire, Trumbull feels a little miffed at not being asked to help out:

"...I was kind of flabbergasted because I had a previous intimate relationship with Warner Bros. about 2001 because I was developing [a] documentary [about that film] for them. At the time, I said, 'I know where the original negative is of everything. I'm a guy who was on the set, working with Kubrick, and I'd love to contribute to any restoration you want to do.' Instead, they called Christopher Nolan and they did not call me. Go figure. It's all corporate. All about money."

"There was work done on Blade Runner that made the movie better, and I helped them, because I had 65mm negatives of all the effects shots stored away that I gave to the studio," he continued. "Generally, these restorations are not done by the principles who made the movie, particularly the cinematographers. If you're going to restore The Godfather, you'll include Coppola."

While some might balk at Trumbull putting himself on the same level of authorship for 2001 that Coppola had on The Godfather, his larger point is well taken. While it's nice that Nolan could be the public face of getting this cinematic classic in front of a new generation, it could have been even better had WB tapped Trumbull to help as well. The conglomerates that run Hollywood studios don't seem to understand that people like Trumbull are important parts of film history, and they should be championed and used as resources as often as possible before they're gone.