2001: A Space Odyssey
Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week we examine 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Keir Dullea and William Sylvester.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) | Directed by: Stanley Kubrick |
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (twitter @mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
2001: A Space Odyssey Through Alien Eyes
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema, the show where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once proud culture, and try to understand what their lives were like before their planet was destroyed their planet.
I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s film is 2001: A Space Odyssey, named after the year 2001, when humans traveled into space for the first time.
Considered a masterpiece, 2001 tells a familiar narrative: ape meets ape, ape meets Monolith, ape meets tool, tool meets ape, tool meets spaceship, spaceship meets spaceship, spaceship meets boy, boy meets supercomputer, boy meets Stargate, baby meets planet. A classic story. But what does it all mean?
In the first act, we see a group of
early humans chased off their land by another faction of equally early humans. They soon discover the Monolith, and, awed by its majesty, congregate around it and touch it with their grimy fingers. The Monolith grants them Reason, or at least as close to reason as one can expect on a Class 7 planet. Reason yields the invention of the tool, and turns the ape-men into carnivores, like how I used to be before I married a vegan.
The ape-man celebrates his newfound dominance by throwing his bone into
the air — fellas, you know what I’m talking about — at which point the filmmakers employ a match cut to the spaceship. This is the most famous cut in Earth’s film history, and an example of what Soviet filmmaking pioneers called “Intellectual Montage.” The collision of two unrelated images creates meaning. The spaceship, like the bone, is a tool.
This new technology is the direct result of four million years of using reason. Other technological advancement include hats designed to protect their brains from being scanned.
And a big, circular treadmill.
The Monolith appears again, this time on one of Earth’s fifty-some- odd moons. But when the astronauts approach the Monolith, they behave differently from their savvy ape forebears. Whereas the apes approach it with reverence, the humans, however, approach arrogantly, as if they have discovered, and thus, conquered it. They even try to take a picture of themselves standing beside it [54:20] using an enormous cellular phone, probably a Samsung Galaxy Note. They think of it as their “catch.” The Monolith is none too pleased.
Throughout the movie, the camera dwells on images of technology, and the main characters are “saturated” by the lights emitted by said technology.
It may be a stretch to call it “technology,” since judging by the looks of their control panels, they haven’t even developed a warp drive. Nevertheless, Earthlings have become so dependent on technology that it has come to define their stage of humanity.
And in deep space, humanity is out
of its element. Even with all those cute little gadgets and gizmos, in the infinitive unknown, the Earthlings are nothing but children — or, as Earthlings call them, tadpoles. Astronauts have to relearn their basic bodily functions…
..and their food resembles baby food. For anyone repulsed by the sight of human digestion, please
turn away now.
Indeed, with the humans infantilized, Hal is the most dynamic character, not to mention the snappiest dresser.
Hal is frequently shot in closeup, whereas the camera deliberately tries not to feature human faces in most conversations. The astronauts don’t really have distinguishing characteristics, other than their frail bodies and gangly limbs. They are stoic and speak in banalities; Hal is the only one to express anxiety or fear, such as his fear of being a third wheel.
In a sense, the humans are more robotic than their robot counterpart, who is a robot.
But if Hal is the paragon of
reason, the monolith seeks to show Dr. Bowman what lies beyond reason. Of course, his puny mind can’t comprehend the complexities of that realm, so he just sees a bunch of pretty colors. For those of us who know what it’s really like, respect.
The film ends on an optimistic note. The Monolith reveals itself to an elderly Dr. Bowman and he is reborn as a giant space baby overlooking the Earth, which was uncommon for humans of that era. This sequence hints at the ideas of renewal and evolution. If you watch the movie high, this sequence hints at every idea you could ever imagine.
For Earthling Cinema, I am Garyx Wormuloid. To see more of that sweet Earth action, hit the subscribe button.