Monday, December 20, 2010

Kubrick’s “2001” Explained


As embarrassed as I am to have to admit this, I have never quite understood Stanley Kubrick’s so-called masterpiece, “2001:  A Space Odyssey”.  Although I’ve seen it multiple times (but not lately), it’s always gone over my head.  Recently, I read an explanation of the movie that I believe makes the most sense in terms of helping me to understand and appreciate what I saw and why the film is so highly regarded; it was an article written by noted film critic Roger Ebert – the piece was written around the time the movie was released and I think it sufficiently fills in many of the blank spots that have troubled me over the years.  Here’s an excerpt:


Silence and attention are especially useful during "2001: A Space Odyssey" because here for once is a film that makes a total statement. You cannot really understand part of it until you have seen all of it. Then, afterwards, you can go back and fill in the missing places. But while it is there on the screen, you should simply let it happen to you. No questions. No whispers. Let the movie have its chance.

Because "2001" needs to be seen this way, I think it will have a better chance with younger audiences. Kubrick himself has speculated that his film wouldn't have much luck with audiences raised on "linear movies" - that is, on movies that follow a plotted story line from beginning to end.

In a linear movie, you never ask why John Wayne wants to kill the bad guys (although perhaps you should). But in Kubrick's movie, there are questions harder to answer. What about that enormous black monolith, for example, which follows Man through Kubrick's universe?



If you have been stumped by this movie over the years as I have, then you owe it to yourself to read the entire article for a detailed analysis; in that case, please click the link below …


"2001" -- The Monolith and the Message