DISCLAIMER: This is a review of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Please bear in mind that at the time of writing this review, the reviewer did not get a chance to watch Interstellar.
Inception, for me, is the best sci-fi movie released in the last decade. Before that was the Wachowskis’ best, The Matrix. But none of them, for me, come close to what I’ve watched on Sunday.
2001: A Space Odyssey.
In a time when science fiction was a genre that was dominated by aliens and dinosaurs and Godzilla, a movie that has an ending open to interpretation would’ve been quite difficult to be made. But, it was made. The first thing you need to know, and I want to say, about this movie is that it is amazing. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
I’m not writing this to try and discuss the scientific matters of the movie. I’ll leave it to the scientists to talk about those issues. For a layman, Kubrick’s idea of space travel takes him on an amazing journey that is composed of brilliant ideas, great effort, and simply ingenious models.
Stanley Kubrick is clearly curious about the possibility, complications and the consequences of space travel. This movie is an idea. It is a movie that is based more on philosophy, than a story. Movies with that base usually do not work out, but an exception is always there. This is one. Except for the sequence with a sulky, boring and a clever computer which will kill for its survival, there is actually very little plot. Because of the presence of little plot and more idea, the movie leaves the spectator wondering, trying to figure out the ending.
The first word is heard when you are 25 minutes into the movie. The last word is heard about 35 minutes before the end of the movie. And in the running time of 142 minutes, there’s less than 45 minutes of dialogue. The movie is mostly dead silence, because there’s no sound in space, or it is just the sound of the astronaut breathing. One striking thing about this movie is that there is dialogue and music (and silence) but not both together at anytime. The absence of dialogue can be quite chilling sometimes, because there are times in the movie where you demand explanation, but you fail to receive any.
Here’s the plot in the simplest way I can put it. The Dawn Of Man has happened. One day, there is a monolith that appears out of nowhere and it sends all the apes in a frenzy, and results in a leap in the evolution of primates. Millenniums later, a monolith is discovered on the moon, which sends a mysterious signal to Jupiter. A team is sent to investigate, which is assisted by a psychotic, self-aware computer HAL 9000.
I agree. It is not much of a plot. But just don’t ignore it saying, “So, what? This is nothing at all.” That would be a mistake. The last 30 minutes is a journey, a speculation through the space, time and imagination. The journey is rich, beautiful, bewildering and intense.
Then, there is the monolith. A metaphor for so many things. The monolith is a device that is used in a splendid fashion. The curiosity it induces in the spectator’s mind is very excellently depicted by the reaction of the apes when they first see it. It can be seen as a trigger for evolution, the presence of guardians, a way to signal the development of humankind, as a door that lets the spectator penetrate the space-time fabric.
But all this happens after the director puts you through the whole plot of the deliberately slow-paced movie. The spectator is pulled to a point of silence, a point without any distractions before the last 35 minutes happen. A slow pace is something that the audience (including me) disapprove of, but with the ideas, the execution of the zero-gravity scenes, the pace is just perfect. And one might complain about the extraordinary lack of dialogue boring them, but this lack of dialogue induces a state of hypnotism. The spectator is often lost in the scene, which is the result of a great amount of calculated effort and technique. And the background score is excellently composed. The way the scene and the music complement each other is something beyond words. The movie depicts humanity, and the potential of the human mind without using words in a majesty that is very rarely seen. The last 30 minutes of the film opens our mind to the plethora of unexpected, unbelievable possibilities which are beyond a human, beyond belief; all of that without a single word.
Rating: 5/5. Do not miss it for the world.