50TH ANNIVERSARY – 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

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Seeing one of the best sounding and looking films on a giant screen was one of the best experiences I have had with film. Every time I have seen this flick, it seems to suck me in like a vacuum. It puts me in a trance. But sitting near the front in a cinema so the screen looked as big as possible… Not only was the music giving me chills, but somehow seeing it in this fashion gave me a new perspective on a movie that I have seen at least 50 times.

Each scene felt new somehow. Stanley Kubrick’s famous sense of humour clicked with me for the first time for 2001, since I first saw it on far too much LSD as laughed like a moron without knowing why. Favourties include the ‘Zero Gravity Toilet’ and many of HAL’s lines, including: “It can only be attributable to human error. This sort of thing has cropped up before and it has always been due to human error,” and, “My mind is going. I can feel it,” said as that is literally happening. This style is not for everyone I am sure, but Kubrick’s incredibly dry and odd sense of humour had me giggling like a twit, much like when I first saw it, surely irritating the other people watching. But I was in a trance, I couldn’t help it!

A nice touch by the venue was that there was actually an intermission when it is prompted on-screen, a touch I wasn’t expecting. Trailers for old, black and white films before the beginning was another great addition, particularly the great trailer for Billy Wilder’s ‘Witness for the Prosecution‘. This, and the slightly grainy look older films have, all combined to shoot me into a time capsule, much like when I was lucky enough to see ‘La Grande Illusione‘ on a giant screen.

When it finished with that fantastically bizarre ending, ideas of what it meant spun around my brain. Like most I’m sure, I have often pondered on what the ending could mean. It has been far too long since I read the book, so my decision was based on the film’s ending, though I am sure they are similar if not the same. Having read some of Nietzsche’s work years ago, after it finished, suddenly the answer was obvious and I’m sure many share the same interpretation.

The film begins with man’s evolution from primates, and finishes with the next step of our evolution as Bowman sees himself age, then transforming into the starchild, the next step. Simples! It seemed so obvious. I have seen 2001 countless times though, that surely helped. That and it seems to fit into the philosophy of Nietzsche so well.

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After the credits rolled, my eyes closed as I listened to the music, I was finally snapped out of my trance and didn’t leave my seat for several minutes. The experience was one I never expected, and given my love for the movie, I don’t think it will be one I’ll forget for a long time. I was fortunate enough to see it with my father who, after the ending, immediately commented, “how the hell do people come up with this shit!”

Indeed. That this all happened on the day after my birthday made for the best gift I could imagine. 50 years later and this film looks better than a lot of crap churned out by Hollywood, especially on a giant screen!