Updated: Dec 31, 2020
2001: A Space Odyssey, a classic film orchestrated by one of the most famous filmmakers of all time. Stanley Kubrick’s visionary take on a future full of haunting classical music and crazy killer computers was ahead of its time. The beautiful special effects, a lot of the same techniques used in Star Wars a decade later, were still quite realistic in many beautifully filmed scenes. Matte paintings, miniatures and camera tricks developed for this piece of history helped push space travel in film into an era of realism and passed the days of bad model spaceships flying around on strings.
I hadn’t watched 2001: A Space Odyssey in 19 years, which happened to be in the same year the film had taken place. I clearly remember being excited to sit down and get lost in a classic space adventure, a movie where the most famous of filmmakers got their inspiration from when creating their versions of space travel in films like Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where space was a cold, bleak place full of silence overtaken by the rhythmic sound of breathing within a space suit.
When the film started at the dawn of man I couldn’t understand what I was watching, becoming bored by the long camera shots that continued on as if I were watching everything happen in real time. I found myself wondering why in the hell I wasn’t watching explosions and hearing Wilhelm Screams as people were being sucked out to their deaths. 2001 ended up being a slow burn film that I wasn’t having any part of at the age of 16.
A few years ago I decided to rewatch certain films I didn’t like in my younger years, thinking that maybe time had possibly changed my personal view of them. The first of these disliked films was Titanic, a movie I was taken to the theater to see back when I was at the young age of 13. I remember hating the romance, having zero interest in the history of the ship, but I really enjoyed the last hour of the epic directed by James Cameron. Almost 17 years later I rewatched Titanic with a new view on things and found myself enjoying the love story, the historical aspects of the actual people on the ship and even crying at the end when Jack and Rose reunited on the sunken ship in the end.
So with my new found view on things, I decided to jump back into films I hadn't watched in years. My first film on this journey back to revisiting some unliked classics was the iconic horror film I hadn’t seen in over 20 years, The Shining. When I first watched the haunted film I was confused by what was happening, not interested in the long camera takes that Kubrick enjoyed using so much. The ending was baffling and I couldn’t understand Nicholson’s take on the character of Jack Torrence, but 17 years later I rewatched it wondering the entire time why I disliked the movie in the first place when it had suddenly jumped up into my top three horror films of all time.
With the confirmation that my age and taste had changed so much within the last two decades, I decided to tackle the beloved 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had it in my head that I would love this film, that the boredom that I had endured almost 20 years ago was nothing more than just my immature mind unable to comprehend the complexities of a story that moved at the pace of a snail, or so I thought.
I pushed play on Kubrick’s space odyssey and settled into a movie experience I just knew would enthrall me from beginning to end. Just as I had remembered, the effects were still fantastic, the imagery and how Kubrick can film a scene was beautifully accomplished. In a lot of ways 2001 holds up better than films that came decades later, all thanks to practical effects, beautifully painted background and inventive camera tricks.
The film is clearly a piece of visual history that should be celebrated for all of its achievements, but with that being said, it wasn’t until that last hour of the film when I actually had an interest as to what I was watching on the screen. As beautiful as A Space Odyssey is, and as wonderful as the special effects and technical aspects that made 2001 a pillar film when it comes to the history of cinema, it still bored the living daylights out of me. There were some instances where it felt like I was watching pre-recorded NASA video from the late 1960s, real time video of ships docking and people walking on the surface of the moon, which is a positive and a negative all at the same time, but maybe that’s the genius of the film without sounding too pretentious.
Space travel and exploration spends a great deal of time in isolation, trapped within a vacuum while gliding through this emptiness in a tin can. Kubrick very much makes you feel vulnerable and uneasy with the help of the disorienting score that leaves you feeling tense that would otherwise be nothing more than what seemingly looks like documentary like footage of fictional space travel.
In so many ways I wanted to love 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I ended up walking away from it, glad that I was able to watch it from beginning to end knowing full well that this film helped revolutionize filmmaking but I still find it to be a snooze fest of a movie.
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a: 6.8