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2001: A Space Odyssey


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I'm consistently amazed that we've had relatively few Arthur C Clarke tales on the big screen (or as a TV series).  He's always been one of my favourite sci-fi authors as like Asimov he's absolutely economical with his prose, so most of his novels are fairly short and just lovely to get through. City and the Stars is probably the best sci-fi novel I've ever read and it's only around 250 pages. 

 

Taking aside the quite appalling sequels to it (Gentry Lee is a bad person), I'm sure Rendezvous with Rama was supposed to be in the works, but that's been fairly quiet for years. So it's a shame really. 

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My boys aged 12 and 14 who have obviously spent years now watching fast paced superhero/Star Wars films asked to watch this at the weekend and I was convinced they would not sit it out. But they both really enjoyed it. Yep, they didn't get what was going on at the end, but who truly does! Was good to see it again as well, I must have not watched it for over 15 years. The look of it is astounding for a film made in the 60s

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2 hours ago, JoeK said:

Taking aside the quite appalling sequels to it (Gentry Lee is a bad person), I'm sure Rendezvous with Rama was supposed to be in the works, but that's been fairly quiet for years. So it's a shame really. 

 

I suspect the problem with making Rama for the big screen is the ending.  I remember picking that book up and absolutely blasting through it as I really needed to know what happened next and what is was all about.

 



So not finding out about it was a brilliant twist.  If something entirely logical can be a twist.

 

And having read the sequels, I realised that some mysteries are better off not being explained.

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Anyone in  Newcastle or the north east wanting to catch this, it's getting a short run at the lovely Tyneside Cinema between Sat 2nd and Wed 6th June. 

 

https://www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/film-and-events/view/2001-space-odyssey

 

I think I'm going to book the Saturday matinee, and it will be my first visit there since watching An American Werewolf in London about 35 years ago and also my very first ever trip to the cinema on my own! I'm quite excited.

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On 21/05/2018 at 07:48, Thor said:

Also, to say this has barely aged a day is ... silly. Visually it's, well, late '60s cinema. Quite blatantly. Don't get me wrong, it's still a classic, one of the sci-fi classics, but I don't get the continued raving about this film, and I'm a lover of all things space and sci-fi.

 

I think it definitely has aged yes (the first act was very obviously men in monkey suits and is so far removed from the Andy Serkis levels of performance today, but I still think SK does it convincingly), but it was still so far ahead of its own time. I mean just 1 example of this is the fact that there were no photographs of the Earth from space available at the time of its making (I'm going from memory of a book I read on this a while ago, so am possibly wrong and apologise if that's the case), but Kubrick still had a crack at portraying what that would look like, and he was pretty close.

 

 

 

3-1522828158.jpg

 

But it is a 50 year old film and it will have its clunky/shonky aspects compared to today's efforts, but I think that if 2001 wasn't the way that it turned out, many of the sci-fi big hitters that we get today would not be seen as being as good as they are. I think it's influence is definitely felt through the years since its release.

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1 hour ago, Clipper said:

It is consistently my favourite film of all time, there is no equal. It is the perfect film. If you reshot the same script now you would be a madman to change even a single frame of it. The purest science fiction film you will ever find, it tells of a past and future for mankind. It is utterly profound in how it deals with alien contact. Nothing since has come close to this and some (Interstellar) have looked embarrassing if held up to comparison with 2001. The effects look magnificent even now, the ships movement through space, the zero g rotational running - all of it mesmerising. If anyone wants to nitpick 2001 technically or cinematically then they are grotesquely wide of the mark in my opinion.

Could not agree more with any of this.

 

My boys, who are 12 and 14, were so impressed with the model shots. And they gave huge kudos for the no sound in space thing, but acknowledged how well the orchestral music fitted. They also spotted the lip reading thing before it was made obvious. If their generation gives it the thumbs up, then we might be OK as a species.

 

They wanted to have a conversation at the end, which was amazing for me. We talked about what we thought the ending meant, and we agreed on our vague interpretation, with my 14 year old looking further into it.

 

They have not been as engaged in a film, except as a piece of entertainment, for ages. I have so many other films I would like to show them (Pan's Labyrinth for one) that they would love, but I have an agreement in place with my ex wife that 15 certificates are a no go for the 12 year old. I know he would be fine, but it's not worth the grief

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1 hour ago, Clipper said:

It is consistently my favourite film of all time, there is no equal. It is the perfect film. If you reshot the same script now you would be a madman to change even a single frame of it. The purest science fiction film you will ever find, it tells of a past and future for mankind. It is utterly profound in how it deals with alien contact. Nothing since has come close to this and some (Interstellar) have looked embarrassing if held up to comparison with 2001. The effects look magnificent even now, the ships movement through space, the zero g rotational running - all of it mesmerising. If anyone wants to nitpick 2001 technically or cinematically then they are grotesquely wide of the mark in my opinion.

I'm not nitpicking, just pointing out that saying "it hasn't aged" is silly. Because it has. Clearly. In fact one of the worst scenes isn't a space one. For me it's a studio scene with a matte painting in the background that looks like it hadn't been washed in a decade, and then someone tried to clean it just prior to shooting.

 

To say Interstellar is embarrassing next to it is also silly, but that's more a subjective thing. 

 

3 hours ago, multiclunk said:

 

I think it definitely has aged yes (the first act was very obviously men in monkey suits and is so far removed from the Andy Serkis levels of performance today, but I still think SK does it convincingly), but it was still so far ahead of its own time. I mean just 1 example of this is the fact that there were no photographs of the Earth from space available at the time of its making (I'm going from memory of a book I read on this a while ago, so am possibly wrong and apologise if that's the case), but Kubrick still had a crack at portraying what that would look like, and he was pretty close.

 

 

 

3-1522828158.jpg

 

But it is a 50 year old film and it will have its clunky/shonky aspects compared to today's efforts, but I think that if 2001 wasn't the way that it turned out, many of the sci-fi big hitters that we get today would not be seen as being as good as they are. I think it's influence is definitely felt through the years since its release.

 

I didn't realise there were no decent shots of the earth prior to the making of the film, so fairplay that is quite an achievement ... for its time. ;)

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16 minutes ago, Thor said:

I'm not nitpicking, just pointing out that saying "it hasn't aged" is silly. Because it has. Clearly. In fact one of the worst scenes isn't a space one. For me it's a studio scene with a matte painting in the background that looks like it hadn't been washed in a decade, and then someone tried to clean it just prior to shooting.

 

To say Interstellar is embarrassing next to it is also silly, but that's more a subjective thing. 

 

 

 

Who said I was referring to you? Your post isn't nitpicking at all it is a fairly broad attempt at a critique of the themes of the film.

 

The points you pick up on are not nitpicking. Your deconstruction of the HAL segment as being about drama and tension with HAL is interesting. What I took away from that segment is man's natural distrust of technology even though we are its creator. It is also inextricably linked to the themes of the Dawn of Man and the last segment of the film due to its commentary on AI and robots in terms of us being the creator - we are the instigators of the evolution of those machines so we will be the future monolith for them? AI - the Kubrick vision of that film sort of links into this as well, a shame he never made it.To say that the last segment "comes out of nowhere" and is about "life cycle, death, and rebirth" is perplexing considering the above themes.

 

As for Interstellar?  I stand by my opinion - it is embarrassing when compared. I'm not even sure that is subjective :D 2001 - a picture says a million words, the silence is all encompassing and enlightening. Interstellar - If we witter on about pseudo science/astro physics for long enough people might think this is deep and thought provoking! :D That's how to be seen as a proper serious sci fi film!

 

 

EDIT (sorry lots of edits on this post but it is late and this film is one of my passions) - I think the point is that many people think that the three segments of the film are disparate when they are not. Those segments are telling us the same story - the story of discovery, creation, contact, understanding and evolution. In all three we see elements of evolution, either machine made, man made or "alien" made. All three show us the "human" condition and its evolution. it is about striving to be "more" than we are, and does it matter what is the catalyst for that progression? And should we be trying to progress or should we stay where we are? Is it better to use weapons? Is it better to dictate to robots and computers?

 

It is as much a film of philosophy as it is about scifi.

 

And I do not fully understand it... and I don't think anyone does - not even Kubrick.

 

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1 hour ago, Clipper said:

The points you pick up on are not nitpicking. Your deconstruction of the HAL segment as being about drama and tension with HAL is interesting. What I took away from that segment is man's natural distrust of technology even though we are its creator. 

The distrust came through clearly enough. But in this, HAL is either a) Malfunctioning, or b) Deliberately malicious. The distrust of AI in this film stems from the fears of the filmmakers themselves. When it comes to AI, this and Interstellar are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. And both ends are somewhat one dimensional. It's why I actually really like, say, Legion in Mass Effect, and even the robot in the recent Lost in Space series.  

 

As for my take on the ending and its themes, I'd like to know more about your take on it,  seeing as you see it not being about the life cycle and death/rebirth. 

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1 hour ago, Thor said:

The distrust came through clearly enough. But in this, HAL is either a) Malfunctioning, or b) Deliberately malicious. The distrust of AI in this film stems from the fears of the filmmakers themselves. When it comes to AI, this and Interstellar are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. And both ends are somewhat one dimensional. It's why I actually really like, say, Legion in Mass Effect, and even the robot in the recent Lost in Space series.  

 

As for my take on the ending and its themes, I'd like to know more about your take on it,  seeing as you see it not being about the life cycle and death/rebirth. 

first of all let us not sully good storytelling by trying to compare it to the crayons used by videogame narrative. Mass Effect is pop scifi - no more valid in serious scifi than Star Trek. DOn't get me wrong, that sort of entertainment has its place ( I enjoy it immensely) but it isn't in the same league as Interstellar never mind 2001.

 

As for the A/b choice for HAL? He is neither - ignore 2010 it is trash, or a misguided attempt at a sequel, it tries to explain 2001 which misses the point of 2001- its attempt to "explain" HAL's actions in 2001 is just risible.

 

HAL is operating under his programming, he is doing what his creator wanted. However his creators did not fully understand what they had done. HAL is a child and he is still learning and evolving and therefore he/it gets it wrong!

 

as for the ending? I do not understand it - noone does. My interpretation, such as it is, is that it is about life/death and rebirth in some simple ways. However all three segments of the film are following a similar theme , discovery and evolution. The apes discover and evolve (with "alien" help), HAL is evolving all the time ( and making mistakes) and Bowman most obviously discovers and evolves. THe problem here is that the HAL segment seems as if he is not evolving, but he is, as a child would do. Humans are so "primitive" that their creations(HAL AI) are like toddlers.Therefore you look at the first and last segment and see profound evolution provoked by "alien" influence and you see the HAL section as being different, but it isn't - we stimulated HAL's discovery and evolution just the same as the "aliens" do in Dawn of Man and the last segment. Obviously HAL is flawed and reflects the flaws of man and so the film's point may be that man is not quite ready yet and it needs more "alien" evolution - we try to create/influence as the Monolith has , and we fail... I don't know.

 

Personally I believe the film is telling us a consistent story with consistent themes. Once you realise that the HAL section is no different to the others you can see the overarching theme and you stop thinking about whether HAL is malfunctioning or malicious,he is neither, he is a result of our own flawed human behaviour .

 

As for TehStu's comment - I never said I didn't enjoy Interstellar, merely that in terms of serious scifi it wasnt in the same league as 2001.

 

Finally Kubrick said this

 

Quote

 


You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don't want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he's missed the point.
 

 

 

so in essence all interpretations are "right". You take from this film what you want.

 

There are millions of words written about the meaning of 2001 from religious theories to parallels between HAL and Frankenstein (which I find ring truer as they fit my interpretation of Man's creation searching for answers whilst it is still primitive and flawed)

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How do you ignore 2010, isn't the whole series canon? I mean, he wrote the lot.

 

Edit-fair enough, it was hard to tell. On the pop sci spectrum, I thought Interstellar was excellent, less about the science and more the story. Same for Mass Effect really, it's clearly not about the science.

 

I'd be curious to see what else you put in the bucket of serious science fiction.

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8 hours ago, Thor said:

I didn't realise there were no decent shots of the earth prior to the making of the film, so fairplay that is quite an achievement ... for its time. ;)


The Mercury and Gemini missions of the early 60s returned with similar photographs of earth from orbit, so I don't think this is true. Still a nice shot.

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7 hours ago, Clipper said:

first of all let us not sully good storytelling by trying to compare it to the crayons used by videogame narrative. Mass Effect is pop scifi - no more valid in serious scifi than Star Trek. DOn't get me wrong, that sort of entertainment has its place ( I enjoy it immensely) but it isn't in the same league as Interstellar never mind 2001.

Snob. ;) I will defend Mass Effect for as long as I draw breath ... just don't talk about the sex scenes. ;)

 

I haven't seen 2010, thanks for the spoilers! Kidding, I don't plan on seeing it. 

 

I will agree on one thing though. 50 years later, people such as you and I are still debating this film's meaning concepts, using technology that surpasses much of what was featured in the movie as "the future". And that fact means Kubrick definitely got something right.

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I'm with you on all of your comments @Clipper. This was one of my favourite films when I was younger, and this last watch with my boys has just made it jump back really highly in my best ever films.

 

Any film that gets us talking after we have watched it is a winner in my book. And Hal is one of the best characters in any film, period. My boys thought he was the creepiest, but most realistic 'villain' in a film they have ever seen, but they got why he was behaving the way he was. Admittedly, this was with some input from me having read the book, but the explanations are in the film, even if they are skipped over.

 

And the ending. I thought they would be really pissed off that it was not tied up neatly, but they actually liked the fact that it was left to your imagination. They don't want to watch 2010 as they thought this film was enough on it's own.

 

For the throwaway generation, with one lad who loves Fortnite more than life, I was really proud of the way they ate up this film and what they thought about it. 

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8 hours ago, TehStu said:

How do you ignore 2010, isn't the whole series canon? I mean, he wrote the lot.

 

I'd be curious to see what else you put in the bucket of serious science fiction.

 

I ignore it because Kubrick was the genius behind 2001 - without him it was just Clarke who wanted to overexplain everything. Go look at or read the production info, there was a voice over and way more dialogue in earlier scripts and Kubrick cut all of it.

 

It is a bit like the Shining - there are two version, the book and film. One is quintessential Kubrick and the other quintessential Stephen King. Both are good but almost completely different

 

As for other serious sci-fi? There is very little sci-fi full stop. The genre of scifi is often muddled or muddied. There is the rather strict interpretation that says that if you could remove the futuristic elements without changing the underlying theme of the story then it isn't Scifi. That purist view is too restrictive in my view. According to that Star Wars isn't truly scifi, Alien certainly isn't, Bladerunner isn't really although is closest. Alien, Bladerunner and Star Wars could have same story told as horror, western or detective film.

 

I personally think the purist definition of scifi is too tight as I can't think of many films that fit it! It also requires too many artificial story gymnastics to remove the scifi elements. In terms of serious scifi here is a short list from top of my head...

 

Solaris

Close Encounters

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Bladerunner

Interstellar (I do think it is overly mawkish and not in same league as 2001 but it is a decent serious scifi film - apologies if in my passion I said otherwise!)

Moon

AI (ruined by Spielberg sadly but I don't Kubrick could have done anyway)

Children of men

 

and there are films I havent seen as I have misse dout on alot in last 5 years or so - haven't seen Ex machina or Arrival or Gravity or The Martian - the latter It hink were stylish but throwaway but I have heard good things aobut the Arrival.

 

(I don't list Alien as I honestly think of it as a horror film - it's sequel is an action film - the 3rd one is closest to Scifi as is the 4th which is a mess but a glorious mess).

 

Answering another point I know snob was said in jest but I really am not. One of my favourite films is Killer Klowns from outer space. I love scifi and horror and terrible zombie films. I almost listed Starship Troopers above because to me it is making a serious point, in a very silly way. Similarly Planet of the apes (original) but again it is very silly but the themes are interesting as is the original source novel. The Last Man on Earth and Omega Man - both have brilliant central themes that are serious but both stray from the (same) source too much or are too hokey.

 

There isn't much modern scifi that I think is serious because scifi means BIG budget which means it need as maximum audience which means it has to be fun and action packed etc etc.

 

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34 minutes ago, Clipper said:

Answering another point I know snob was said in jest but I really am not.

 

9 hours ago, Clipper said:

first of all let us not sully good storytelling by trying to compare it to the crayons used by videogame narrative.

You said that about my beloved Mass Effect. You made it personal. :P

 

What do you think of Sunshine? 

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36 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

You said that about my beloved Mass Effect. You made it personal. :P

 

What do you think of Sunshine? 

serious scifi and dull - had it moments in places but no great shakes. did not leave a lasting impression on me

 

and I love Mass Effect but its story is entertaining and lightweight.

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Hmm, fair enough. I don't disagree with some of the points, although I don't think that definition of science fiction is helpful. But I'm 100% with you on enthusing over your favourite film, you'll find me doing that over in the Blade Runner (which is, of course, cyberpunk) thread, so I can see where you're coming from. 

 

Gravity is an outstanding personal tale, although I'm not sure how well received it was. If you like science, like actual orbital mechanics and the science of staying alive on another planet, you'll actually like The Martian. Andy Weir actually had it peer reviewed, and he himself is a hobbyist of orbital mechanics. There is only a bit of hokum to make certain plot elements work. What you may find jarring is the main character, but I loved it. Would recommend either book or film, the book is just more of the film.

 

I digress. Interesting discussion, mind.

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2 hours ago, TehStu said:

Hmm, fair enough. I don't disagree with some of the points, although I don't think that definition of science fiction is helpful. But I'm 100% with you on enthusing over your favourite film, you'll find me doing that over in the Blade Runner (which is, of course, cyberpunk) thread, so I can see where you're coming from. 

 

Gravity is an outstanding personal tale, although I'm not sure how well received it was. If you like science, like actual orbital mechanics and the science of staying alive on another planet, you'll actually like The Martian. Andy Weir actually had it peer reviewed, and he himself is a hobbyist of orbital mechanics. There is only a bit of hokum to make certain plot elements work. What you may find jarring is the main character, but I loved it. Would recommend either book or film, the book is just more of the film.

 

I digress. Interesting discussion, mind.

Agree on the scifi definition - it is too restrictive, not many genre are that restrictive in defining themselves and it makes it all sound a bit "up itself"

 

Yeah I love ridley Scott's direction generally , although I realise his output is now errr "variable".

 

As for Bladerunner it is my 2nd favourite film of all time so I can enthuse about that as well :D

 

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On 23/05/2018 at 08:36, Vorgot said:

And the ending. I thought they would be really pissed off that it was not tied up neatly, but they actually liked the fact that it was left to your imagination. They don't want to watch 2010 as they thought this film was enough on it's own.

 

They are missing out on a very solid, interesting film.  Of course it is no classic compared to its predecessor, but I have a soft spot for it.

 

If I could sell it to you, then I would say that it exists in the same universe and follows on a few things but has its own tale to tell.  The bits that do tie back to 2001 make sense.

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2010's a good film and it would be much better thought of if it wasn't the sequel to one of cinema's solid gold classics if not the best film of all time (it is). It could never live up to 2001 and it doesn't try to, but it complements it very well, I think. Plus it has Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren and John Lithgow!

 

The only thing I don't like in 2010 is the hairbrush bit, but that's mainly down to the shonky 80s effects.

 

Full disclosure: 2001 and 2010 were the first two Blu Rays I bought.

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