Monday, 21 October 2013

2001: Space Odyssey Review

Fig 1: 2001 Space Odyssey Poster

The film "2001 A Space Odyssey" is a extremely abstract film with little in the way of a solid storyline. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke, the author whose book the film was adapted from, the film takes a profound approach in its debating of philosophical ideas and arguments, the first of these being the birth of humanity. The birth of humanity is torn between religious and scientific origins, both having valid points and affirming their own theories but it is obvious from the beginning of the film that Kubrick opted for the scientific theory, this being Darwin's theory of evolution, and takes the audience on a journey through the first part of the film as he explores and portrays the moment our ancestors took tools into their hands and used them for violence. "Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the greatest films of all time and it is the director's most profound and confounding exploration of humanity's relationship to technology, violence, sexuality and social structures." (Caldwell 2011) This statement by Caldwell highlights the way in which Kubrick ties the core or, as he portrays, primal aspects of humanity into our advancement from ape-like creatures into something more sophisticated. In the scene mentioned before,he creates a moment where both primal aggression and human ingenuity are combined into our species first steps in technological development. The beauty of this scene is awe inspiring as Kubrick's imagination captures the emotion and brutality of the scene perfectly, when on ape strikes another and kills it can be interpreted as the destruction of the primal self, the door way to the future opened by a single act of both intelligence and violence.

Fig 2: Ape monolith scene

That moment in 2001:A Space Odyssey was marked by the appearance of a black monolith, an imposing and frightening looking slab that acts as a prompt for the advancement of man or simply as a marker for the moment of that advancement. The film then skips millions of years ahead to a time where humanity has mastered space travel, with shuttles taking people from earth to the moon like aeroplanes of the modern day ferry people around the world. This brief look at humanities advancements serve only to excite the audience at the prospect such wonders, with Kubrick's sets and special effects making the scene incredibly believable to even a modern audience. It appears that man has mastered the space travel, conquering that have been above our heads and beyond our reach for a millennium. This is played down though by the dicovery of an artefact buried on the moon, the audience is kept i suspense about just what the object is until they are actually shown it and it is in this special but horrifying moment that the audience lays eyes on the familiar shape of a black monolith. "The plot is not so much of structure but rather of events or moments in time that are united by the appearance of a large black monolith." (Haflidason 2001) This quotation perfectly represents the audience's realisation, as well as the now outlandish thought to which Kubrick provides a completely creative but insane scenario for because if the monoliths really do mark the advancements of humanity, where is there to go beyond the stars?

Fig 3: Final monolith scene

Kubrick's answer to this question comes with the overwhelming special effects and a bright white room. A mission to Jupiter is launched and with several men in cryogenic pods and a super computer by the name of HAL 9000 to investigate an anomaly, but with an error from the super computer the entire voyage becomes litter with the deaths of the crew members as the computer goes about systematically killing them off, setting the standard for evil super computers in all forms of fiction (an example of this would be GLaDOS). "The final sequence of 2001 is speculation through imagination, positing a new Xanadu, a world of wonders where time and space no longer exist, just as the rest of the film speculates on various levels, exploring the new vistas opened up by the encroaching space era" ( The Observer 1968) The remaining crew member is transported to Kubricks answer, where time and space is irrelevant and everything is neither past, present or future. This "new Xanadu" is the accumilation of everything and is both a profound philosophical answer to the questions that desperately what answering, for both past and present audiences.

List of Illustrations:

Fig 1: 2001: A Space Odyssey poster (1968) At:

Fig 2: Ape monolith scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, At:

Fig 3: Final monolith scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, At:


Caldwell, Thomas (2011) (Online Review) Accessed 21/10/13

Haflidason, Almar (2001) (Online Review) Accessed 21/10/13

The Observer Newspaper (1968) (Archived Newspaper Review) Accessed 21/10/13

1 comment:

  1. Hello again!

    Please read my comments on your previous 2 reviews, starting with Caligari... the points made there also refer to this review!
    The only other thing I will add to this, is to make sure that you italicise the film name each time, and be consistent with putting the quotes into italics.

    Once again, you have put a lot of thought into this, and have made some really interesting observations; don't make it so difficult for your reader to actually read the text though....lose the highlighter! :)