Back in 2007, we witnessed the release of the Blu-Ray version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a classic movie produced by Stanley Kubrick, and written by Arthur C. Clarke. I actually hadn’t seen the movie since the 1970s, and had to see it again. It does not seem terribly out of date, 46 years since its release in 1968. I found this recently near a Best Buy delete bin going for cheap. Cheap enough to make me yearn for nostalgia.
The film demands of the viewer a great deal of patience and an ability to deal with ambiguity. For example, the beginning of the movie had little in common with the rest of the movie, but all those primates running around and warring with each other for the same filthy water hole had me at least a little intrigued. One ape discovers that using a bone as a tool can make a deadly weapon, and it can help in one’s conquest of lots of water holes. So would begin, I suppose a “stick and bones” arms race among the primates, where one tribe of apes tries to technologically outdo that other tribe of apes on the far side of the water hole.
Am I digressing? I’m not sure, since the actors on the blu-ray voiceover track didn’t seem sure either. If I remember they were the lead actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, obviously 46 years older.
The disconnectedness of the beginning is a well-known problem. Then there’s that monolith. These monoliths have a habit of half-burying themselves in the ground when no one is looking. At the end of the movie it is standing on the floor of a house lit from the floor. No one really knows what the monolith is about either, but it is supposed to give us an impression of an alien presence in a way that does not show us any aliens.
The end of the movie, like the last 20 minutes is pure excess. We are not sure what the light show is about, but it may not have as much deep meaning after you’ve stopped tripping on LSD. This is the sixties. Excess was in. Rock bands doing a 20-minute jamming session on vinyl was fairly common. This was kind of like that, except that this was visual, and they had these choruses of voices, which was slightly grating. It obfuscated and thus weakened the entire film.
The film was about what happened in the 2nd hour or so. It was a cautionary tale about being too trusting of technology, a message that never goes out of date. All future advances in technology will never make that reality go away.