2001: A Space Odyssey: movie review

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  • Science fiction
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Hazarding a wildly speculative guess, I think Stanley Kubrick would have loved Gravity. He would have been knocked out by Alfonso Cuarón’s zero-G realism and long-take panache. Secretly, he would have envied the movie’s grosses (Kubrick knew about the power that money could buy). He would have called someone in the middle of the night to talk about it.

And finally, Kubrick would have leaned back with a sly smile (his only smile), knowing his classic’s reputation was safe. It’s not that 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t look dated—it does, a touch—but rather, it feels as intelligent and provocative as ever, bearing years of conceptual dreaming. Until today’s equivalent of novelist Arthur C. Clarke commits a hefty chunk of time to envisioning the beginning of human civilization, as well as the far ends of the future, there will be no new film that supplants it. Though it was showered with technical praise, 2001 lingers on the mind like a tall, black riddle: Where are the new bones, the new tools, that will take us higher? Do we even deserve them?

And if The Shining can grow as a black comedy, so can this one. Douglas Rain’s clammy voice work as HAL 9000, the murderous machine, remains one of Kubrick’s snazziest pieces of direction. Of course, he’d tell us, Gravity is great. But I prefer Her.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

Release details

Rated: G
Duration: 160 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriter: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke
Cast: William Sylvester
Keir Dullea
Gary Lockwood
Leonard Rossiter
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Nathaniel Korb

Well put. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great meditation on the destiny of mankind, where are we going? How far have we come? And what is our place in this vast universe. It's one of those films that asks more questions than it answers , yet rather than becoming plot holes, they add to the sense of enigma behind our measly existence. Though the one answer it slyly gives is in the monolith, surprisingly so because it's one of the most frustrating and confusing icons in cinema (along with the Starchild). I see it as Kubrick's answer to what elevates us as humans, and it's the fact that we can critically think, perceive, object to what's put before us. In a sense the whole movie is it's own monolith, if you didn't think much about it, it's a story about a black brick that turns apes into humans and humans into space-babies, the fact that we can look at the themes, mysticism, and symbolism of the film, and find meaning beyond its simple plot, is why 2001 is so long lasting, and still as fresh as the day it was released.