2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s strategic development of “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a thing of beauty; it’s an enigmatic and absolutely mesmerizing experience that has to be appreciated on a certain level, and there simply aren’t any short cuts or crib notes that can afford an audience a different insight with easy answers. Director Kubrick is a man who assigned Arthur C. Clarke to adapt the movie while it was being made and only handed him certain information which gave audiences two sets of information. Kubrick encourages exploration. Through and through “2001: A Space Odyssey” is an amazing cinematic masterwork that operates as a think piece and a ride through different arena of science fiction that isn’t often explored. Kubrick’s film is a work of symmetry, and balance, and mystery.

It bears within it a unique form of storytelling that’s wholly visual but working on a dimension that keeps audiences trying to decode its rich tapestry of ideas and philosophies. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is easily my favorite of Kubrick’s masterpieces, as it doesn’t entirely stand on one corner with a true meaning waiting to be uncovered. Instead like most art, Kubrick asks questions, presents interesting ideas about evolution, and the idea of existence, and then begs us to present what we think it all means. Kubrick at both times presents the idea of God, then pulls it away by examining that perhaps the God is in the consciousness. He revels in the birth of a new dawn in the galaxy, while soaking in the magic and miraculous reverie of new life.

In 1968, Kubrick presented a picture of the universe that was blank but bursting with a pulse, all the while offering pictures of life out of scale with what science would calculate as accurate and realistic. For life to thrive and evolve, it either must grow and expand, or eliminate the lesser of life form, which results in one of the very few semblances of traditional narrative within the scope of the picture. Hal is an organism much in the realm of the humans that operate it, but whether it bears a consciousness is a question of the meaning of consciousness and whether it deserves to live above the humans it seeks to best. The ship bears doors that open like eyes, and most of the film’s emotional moments are viewed through the eyes of the human characters, but Hal also adorns an eye.

Does that make it as cognizant a living being? When we open up on “2001: A Space Odyssey” we view civilization as it once was, with man learning of hunting and surviving, and ultimately the idea of thriving. This comes during the arrival of a mysterious monolith, which is not unlike its environment. It’s complete, it’s absolute, but it’s also limitless. It’s filled with a blank black mass, and completely defying anything and everything present within this wilderness. Through the building blocks of the bone being thrown in the air, the idea of man also resides within the man made structures floating through space, all of which resemble bones in their essence.

Maybe the monoliths are the inventions of another species guiding man along. Maybe the monoliths are man infiltrating the past to advance their own species on a proper path. Regardless, the monoliths are beyond space and time, and often beyond reasoning. They drop the cloak of reality, and often indicate a change that’s either frightening or thrilling. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a masterpiece for the ages, it’s bereft of a time, or period, and unfolds a compelling and brilliant tale while also challenging audiences every single time.