The Kubrick Award – for Film Appreciation
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
One of the weirdest films of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey will leave you wondering what the hell you just watched…and why you enjoyed it so much.
It’s arguably Kubrick’s masterpiece. Personally, I can’t decide which was more fantastical; The Shining or 2001. Both had elements to them that amazed me, and both had differences. But Kubrick’s wonderfully suspenseful style rings true throughout both films.
One thing I admire so much about Kubrick’s direction is his symmetrical “fetish”, for lack of a better term. Every set is perfectly symmetrical, bringing a sense of evenness and stability to each shot, even though one may not be focusing on the set instead of the action.
Another thing so great about Kubrick’s direction is his attention to detail. His sets are incredibly well made, and when someone says “directors do everything for a reason”, take that literally when it comes to Kubrick, because he does EVERYTHING for a reason. His choice of music, cuts, cues and every single look on the actor’s face is very much deliberately picked for maximum effect on the viewer.
Kubrick was perhaps history’s greatest perfectionist.
Everything picked deliberately leads to a very confusing ending, not only in 2001, but in The Shining as well. Actually, less confusing, more open to interpretation. I think that’s a great thing about Kubrick’s movies; he wanted people to create explanations for the goings on. He wanted people to discover what had happened, and he wanted people to think about what they just saw.
2001 is Kubrick in every sense.
The ending is confusing, and thoughtful. One doesn’t forget the ending easily, perhaps because it requires so much thought and consideration to assure one’s brain that they understand it. It’s a fantastic finish, too. Because it’s so unique, and because it’s so deliberate.
2001’s art direction and set design, as I’ve said before, is phenomenal. I’m so glad I got to see this on the big screen at the Astor Theatre, St. Kilda, Melbourne. It’s fantastic that there are theatres like this still around, but that’s an entirely different story and I won’t get into that.
The set design is precise, and beautiful to look at. Also, one can only look on in admiration at the lighting in each scene. Everything is purposely dark or light and it helps the film portray certain emotions – whether good or bad. Which brings me to my next point.
2001 establishes a fine line between light and darkness, and constantly at that. Every single lighting effect, whether it’s conveyed in a shot of the sun passing over a planet, or whether conveyed in a shot of light rays masking someone’s face, I believe the lighting was one of the more influential parts of 2001.
In the middle of the yellow dot surrounded by red, I swear I can see a cheeky smirk of accomplishment in HAL. And HAL is fascinating, too. He brings up questions about where computer technology will be at in 50 years. Who knows? Let’s just hope, when that time comes, that computers aren’t as evil as HAL.
This film ends on a very much Kubrick note; it leaves one guessing. It leaves one thinking about the theme of 2001. I believe it was a movie of evolution, and a film referring to the evolution of man. It’s hard to think of a way to explain how I believe Kubrick created this theme, and I don’t have time to write it all down – after all, it would be weeks before I recover from the trauma caused by thinking this film over.
It is a brilliant film, though. That is an undeniable truth. After finishing the film, will you want to find answers? Of course. Will it give you answers?
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