So I actually attempted to watch 2001 the other day...

I didn't make it through because grandma wanted to turn itr off.  It was interesting to see another viewer's reaction to the film, you know, just to keep me grounded.

I compare this film to a lesser known visual essay entitled, "Koyannisquatsi," by Francis Ford Coppola.  That film uses nothing but images to tell a story of how civilization has thrown life, and/or nature, out of balance.  "Koyannisquatsi," is marketed as a visual essay, so there's no confusion as to what you're getting into.  Visual, as in, there will be no words in this film, and essay as in, this shit will be boring to a certain extent, although eductional.  Here's where I make my startling comparison.  2001 was marketed as a Sci-fi film, an epic, if you will.  How does a film that is a visual essay on humanity's progress pass it self off as a sci-fi film?  The film includes about 30 minuites of plot, albiet, the plot itself doesn't become apparent until over an hour into the film.  So basically the viewer is subjected to a montage of themes and imagery before the plot is brought to a head, and then after the plot's climax, there appears to be no resolution except in the symbolic sence of the word.  Let me break this down a bit...

The 2001 film is broken down into a few categories that I've made up off the top of my head as I'm typing this.  They are:

The dawn of man -- This is caveman ooga-booga at it's finest.  It's like a docmentary on cavemen/apes without the narration.  You wonder if the cavemen are played by actual actors or real apes, but it really doesn't matter because one simply can't imagine Kubrick trying to orchestrate the whole thing one way or the other.  "You there! I want you to bellow louder, louder I said!"  "And you, I told you to grunt, and then growl and shriek, not shriek, and then growl and gru... HEY! Who threw that at me!"  It's a funny thought.

Space montage -- The film then jumps forward in time to the future and the viewer is subjected to a bunch of montages involving spaceships and planets.  This part of the film is visually stunning in that special effects photography was used instead of CGI which was not available at the time.  It still looks better than a lot of the modern stuff.  At this point a small amount background plot begins to take shape.

Jupiter Mission - The viewer is subjected to more montages as Mel Brooks begins to write the movie Spaceballs.  At this point the actual plot of the film begins to unfold as the members of the Jupiter crew and their supercomputer Hal have some dealings in and out of the ship.

Final Montage - This is immediately following the conflict resolution that occurs at the end of the jupitar mission, Viewers will be looking for som closure as to what happens next, and they aren't going to get it.

So basically, this film is more of a visual essay on the position of humanity and they're progress throughout the universe.  Unfortunately the film is marketed as some sort of science fiction epic, which it clearly is not.  Okay, so maybe it's got about 30 minutes of a sci-fi film hiddin in it, but if you want to be real with your viewers and not trick them into seeing a film that isn't what you say it is, then market it alongside, "Koyannisquatsi," and people will know what they're getting before they tune in.



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Critico's picture

Its not a Coppola film, its by Godfrey Reggio, it has 2 sequels: Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi 

Hmmm, so Coppola just presented it?

TMundo's picture

I know jhis name appears at the begining, however, my point was that 2001 is more like Koyaan... and less like a sci-fi.

Good analysis, TMundo.

HS's picture

2001 is, I think, a *great* film, but anyone who says they understood all of the symbolism and imagery on a first viewing is prolly full of it.  It probably has the best use of classical music in the score of any film, period.  The visual style is very influential, too - I've since seen elements of 2001 in other, later films ranging from The Fifth Element to Star Wars: A New Hope to Solaris.

HS, who's still not entirely sure what the black monoliths represent.

My guess is, to Kubrick, it represents God...

TMundo's picture

Notice how the people/apes are trying to touch it, but they can't seem to understand it.  The one on the moon had actually been buried on purpose.  Then when the cadets surrounded it to take some pictures, I took this as them trying to take credit for God, all standing in front taking credit for it.  God wasn't having that so SQUEEEEEEEEEEELCH!!!

Then the guy on his deathbed with the monolith in front, facing his death and God.

Some of this was explained to me and some is my own opinion, although again, these are all Kubricks ideas, God is not a monolith as far as I believe.

2001 was, in my opinion, one of the greatest movies ever made.

Mal_Content's picture

I think it was also the first science fiction movie I ever saw.  The jazz version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is still one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded.

I don't remember - weren't the monoliths explained in "2010"?

double posts suck. we oughta...

michael3b's picture

be able to delete.

I think the monoliths are part...

michael3b's picture

..wild-card plot device, part macguffin.  They act as a sort of rock in the stream which starts us on our way as primative humans then as a beacon which, when uncovered, let's "them" know we've advanced to the point where they oughta hear about it.  They're also a hyperspace-ish gateway for Bowman.  Then they show up in 2010 and make Jupiter dense enough to become a sun.

Man, that scene in 2010 wherein they realize Jupiter is shrinking...whoa.  I freaked out.

I guess monoliths are like swiss-army knives for pan-demensional beings.  Not to mention the effect they have on the back of the minds of people watching the flicks. 

And it makes a swell gift, too...don't it?



If you read the short

Drew_Atreides's picture

If you read the short story from which the inspiration for 2001 was drawn, Clarke's "The Sentinel", the Monoliths are a bit more clear. They're sort of benchmarks/beacons.  At some points they encourage human development, and at others they influence it.  The basic idea is that an extraterrestial species that had long since evolved beyond our comprehension had, at some point, seen the potential for intelligent life on the Earth. However, throughout their extensive travels they had seen many examples of intelligent life get stunted or wiped out because they had no guidance, and so these aliens decided to try to nurture development of life wherever they found it. The monoliths were the tools they developed for this purpose.   

Of course we all know that Kubrick probably had his own interpretation of them.. I wouldn't be surprised if it was GOD...


Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal...

They wrote together...

michael3b's picture

...Kubrick and Clarke, the screenplay and novel, respectively.  Both excellent. And they make good companion pieces in terms of getting the gist of it all.  Kubrick was purposely elusive and Clarke focused more on the narrative, characters and outcome.  Together you can grasp a much stronger theme.  Anyhow, I did... and I recommend the book highly.

The photography in that movie totally smokes most CGI-based stuff mainly because it looks real as oppsed to hyper-real...

ps  2010 was also a decent flick and read in my opinion.

I was soooo close to renting that this weekend!

nickumoh's picture

Swear to God, I had 2001 in my hand and put it down at the last minute. Instead I chose "the Foot Fist Way" and "American Movie." I make a habit of not renting more than two movies at a time since I am rarely home.

I think I made an ok choice.

Maybe next week. That or Barry Lyndon; I hear thats a good Kubrick film

...what...what were talking about again?


nickumoh's picture

I meant to vote your article up but accidentally voted it down. So sorry. Damn these soft delicate hands! Its times like this that make me wish I never became a hand model.

Someone please vote his article up so it doesn't remain negative becasue of me. I'll buy your vote if necessary.

...what...what were talking about again?

My vote is for sale.

RidingFool's picture

Two times.

2001 was the first film to show

Rajah's picture

There's no SWISH! in space!

I know you Trekkies like your swishing space ships

It had a lot of good points...

TMundo's picture

...for example

-the sets in the circular satelite featured curved floors

-shots of a guy running around the circular loop in a seemingly single camera shot.

-Shots of a stewardess walking up the wall, in the same shot she was just walking upright in.

-Shots of the moon circling wildly in the background as the guy nonchalantly talks to his daughter on the videophone.

It all appeared to be social commentary on the way life would actually be in space.  The most overly driven home concept being that there is no up or down in space. 

Something bugged me about the opening image

FearlessFreep's picture

The one that shows the sun, the moon and the earth. It seemed to me that from that angle you shouldn't be able to see such a wide slice of the lit moon.  Of course, they widened the slice so you can tell it's the moon.

When I told my dancing teacher I was going to see _2001_, not only hadn't she seen it, she hadn't HEARD of it!


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

Here's a neat interpretation of 2001

TMundo's picture

The Monoliths are the movie screen...

TMundo's picture

...according to that link I posted below, there are two moments where the monolith music is playing and the viewer is staring at a blank screen.

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