Saturday, April 24, 2010
Astonishing visual triumph, but what was that?
After viewing 2001: A Space Odyssey, I had several options: 1) Pretend I loved it and made up my own interpretations of what I thought the film meant. 2) Pretend I liked it and talk about how interesting the entire puzzling experience was. 3) Just say I thought it was boring and confusing and put on a bulletproof vest.
Well, I have a confession to make...
I will go with option three. I don't understand the greatness of Stanley Kubrick's so-called science fiction masterpiece. Yes, I realize that it's one of the most aesthetically gorgeous films ever made, with a classical soundtrack that I completely adore, but it is also one of the slowest, most sparse films I've ever seen, which I guess must be the point, if there is a point at all.
Of course, there is also the option of re-watching it. Not so soon, though. My brain is still trying to recovering from the massive what-the-bleeps I experienced throughout the entire film.
Spoilers ahead: The film begins with a couple of apes. They go seemingly batshit because of their newfound intelligence. There goes the story of the dawn of man. Jump cut into space. Adventure ensues. They find this monolith that the apes saw. It's loud and has unimaginable transformative powers.
Spoilers continue: Eighteen months later, these astronauts are traveling to Jupiter on a mission. The whole spaceship is controlled by robot HAL 9000. Hal is completely fascinating, though, despite the fact that he's a glowing, talking iPod-shaped antagonist. But all good things must end, which is probably why Hal gets DISCONNECTED half an hour before the movie ends. Which means there is half an hour more of this film without Hal. Then this astronaut travels through different colored lights, I guess. He becomes old, then becomes a fetus, and then becomes a gigantic, floating baby. The movie ends.
I think I'm missing something. No, I'm definitely missing something. I looked up different interpretations of the film and, yeah, I knew it was about life and death and all that good stuff. Some say the book is a good source for answers. But the film itself is certainly a long, methodical explanation for what could be summed up in one good paragraph instead of long scenes of pointless visual supremacy.
Roger Ebert's 1997 review does an excellent job at explaining the enduring wonders of 2001, but I continue to feel emotionally disconnected and disengaged about the film. Everyone scene and shot seemed to last forever. I still didn't turn it off, though. I wanted to see what would happen next. My curiosity is rather masochistic.
Though I'm all for art and philosophy. Just wished I understood them better.
Let's talk about this. It's therapy time. Please explain why this iconic science fiction film is deservingly revered. Or someone out there can be a kindred spirit.