On Saturday, Murielle and I went to the cinema to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, a 1968 movie by Stanley Kubrick. We had both already seen it, but since there was a Kubrick retrospective, we might as well see it on the big screen.
First of all, writing a review about this movie is tough, and it cannot be written without being a personal opinion. 2001: A Space Odyssey is timeless and it is more a cinematic experience than an actual movie.
The movie starts with the dawn of man. A group of Australopithecus discovers a black monolith, and afterwards they find out how to use a bone as a weapon: the monolith gave them a hint of knowledge. Then there is a huge ellipse of four million years, and we are in two thousand and one, in space. On the moon, scientists found the monolith, which was buried there on purpose for four million years: it means that it was here since its disappearance from Earth. After that, another ellipse happens: eighteen months later, we are on board of the Discovery One, which destination is Jupiter, because another monolith was found there. David Bowman and Franck Poole are the only humans in charge of the spacecraft during the journey, the third member of the crew being HAL 9000, an artificial intelligence that controls the systems of the ship and interacts with the astronauts as a real human being.
Later, we learn that HAL is suspicious about the mission because they don’t quite know what the aim is, and he makes a (deliberate or not?) mistake, which induce Dave and Franck into thinking HAL may need to be disconnected, to avoid that he makes other mistakes willingly. But HAL learn their scheme and when Franck is out in space, he kills him by throwing him away in space. Dave tries to rescue him, but when he comes back to the spacecraft, HAL refuses to open the main door, so he enters the ship by the emergency door, and ends up disconnecting HAL. He then learns the aim of the mission: to get closer to the monolith and find out more about its nature. But Dave gets sucked into the monolith and discovers an unthinkable alternative reality, that can’t be described: it is an experience which is beyond words and can only be lived and not told.
This movie is very impressive for its special effects, considering it was made in the late sixties: for example, the lunar landing scene is very realistic. Stanley Kubrick is faithful to the storyline of the book by Arthur C. Clarke, and at the same time, 2001 gets to reveal how Kubrick was visionary. On a science-fiction backdrop, he offers a reflection about progress, about life, about death, about everything that is beyond us and our understanding. He questions our ability to control what we create: in the movie, the artificial intelligence overtakes humans, and Kubrick lets us wonder if HAL has feelings, if he’s a psycho, if he’s just fallible like human beings, if he’s sincere when he says he’s scared… The end of the movie is open to every interpretation, because there is no right explanation: Kubrick only gives us hints, so we need to make our own opinion.
( the overture of the film )