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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Free «2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)» Essay Sample


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) represents a landmark, archetypal science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film is a landmark in cinema and promises to leave the audience confused, inspired or both. The 2001: A Space Odyssey is landmark, not because of its pioneering input to the science fiction genre, but its influence over cinematic storytelling method and structure. Kubrick’s preference of collaborator and strategy to work in coalition with prominent science fiction author, Arthur Clarke, played a big role in the success of the movie. The collaboration enabled Kubrick to generate an original screen story where thematic elements and literary prose were devised to yield to a cinematic experience for the audience instead of a literary plot-driven movie story.

2001: A Space Odyssey is qualified as one of the greatest and universally influential films ever made, especially because of its visual effects (visual realism) and slow pace. The film can be regarded as historically, culturally and aesthetically significant worthy of preservation. In the film, Kubrick dramatizes the intricacy and mutability of the human struggle within settings that are so varied. 2001: A Space Odyssey reverberates with wonder for its cinematic experience, especially because of its limited narrative structure (Kolker 6). The film connects to individuals at a personal level, which is not an exception since any piece of art is likely to trigger some form of response, positive or negative. The film is also a puzzle, in the same way that the crew of the Odyssey attempts to resolve in the movie.


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The film captured Kubrick’s interest in the potential of alien life, which explains why he made a sci-fi film that addressed the idea. The sci-fi experience is fashioned to present the story accompanied by auditory signals, minimal dialogue (fragmented and non-narrative), and visual imagery. The audience is left to sample the non-verbal and magical vastness of the film, and feel free to speculate the meaning. The story is about artifacts left by an extraterrestrial civilization, which catalyze evolutionary growth from ape to man, to spaceman and later star-child, but the intelligence ultimately yields to death.

The film utilizes chapters marking significant developments within human intelligence, broadening from prehistory to year 2001, and rising beyond space and time. The determination of how the individual chapters are compared to each other undergoes an omnipresent mystery, and the foundation of ongoing attraction in the film. It appears that the ambiguity was Kubrick’s objective as he left the audience to decipher the allegorical and philosophical meaning of the film (Rasmussen 51).

The film features four core sections introduced by superimposed titles. The movie starts with a black monolith that appears in prehistoric Africa, which makes the local monkey-men learn how to utilize tools, including how to kill each other. Several years later, scientists find a related monolith on the moon. A couple of years later, astronauts go to Jupiter in an attempt to trace the origin of the monoliths, facilitated by a highly-intelligent computer labeled HAL. The crucial matters of the film encompass the validity of extraterrestrial life, the enthusiasm of humans to devoid themselves of feeling, and the relationship between men and machines. As such, the audience is free to deduce the meaning, which renders it the most meaningful or most pointless film ever filmed. The film portrays space travel as a mundane fact of life, and computers are depicted as thinking bodies capable of independent human thought. The film promises to disclose great secrets of the universe, but reneges.

2001: A Space Odyssey Analysis

Thematically, the film addresses elements of human evolution, technology, extraterrestrial life and artificial intelligence. The movie is outstanding due to its pioneering visual effects, ambiguous imagery, scientific accuracy, non-conventional narrative techniques, and the use of music in place of conventional narrative techniques (LoBrutto 313). Stanley Kubrick’s work can be regarded as deep, visionary and impressive, especially because of its visual experience. Stanley Kubrick, as a director, can be regarded as an auteur since he managed and created each aspect of his films right from inception, advertising and distribution. The film can be considered Kubrick’s vitality and sense of authorship. Although, Kubrick’s film was largely an experimental process, the film was mostly innovative whose ideas mirrored philosophical thought, religiosity, science, and man’s connection to the universe, especially on the reality of extraterrestrial life (Geraghty 4).

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2001: A Space Odyssey presents the most evident case of cinema being primarily a visual medium. In the film, Kubrick integrates stylistic, thematic, and ideological features to generate futurist masterpieces that reflect the state of the society. Kubrick maintains a perfect equilibrium between harmony and discord, which keeps the audience on the edge; however, the outcome usually confounds expectations and trigger controversy (Abrams 221).

Kubrick’s film manifests Frankenstein connection in style and content. HAL 9000, a supercomputer with artificial intelligence and artificial life form, has been contrasted with Frankenstein’s monster. Both Frankenstein’s monster and HAL existence are considered an abomination. Kubrick underpins the Frankenstein connection with a scene that virtually reproduces James Whale’s (1931) Frankenstein, which is a function of the meticulous deliberation needed. The two scenes are analogous in terms of composition, lighting, editing, sound and staging. The scene, where Frankenstein’s monster is on the loose is borrowed to portray the first execution by HAL.

Stanley Kubrick’s statements on visually encoded meaning appear to imply that the film’s formal narrative forms only a part of the story, which means that the film was intentionally structured to constitute a collection of concepts that render the film open to diverse interpretations. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) can be praised for its technical ingenuity, especially for its capability to keep the audience’s attention. Besides its utilization of music, the absence of dialogues and conventional narrative cues are manifest throughout the film. The reduction of the application of dialogue to a bare minimum is generating a framework constituting of separate, but thematically connected segments, with which the film communicates via action, visual signs and symbols, and expressive visualization.


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