2001: A Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
At the dawn of time a massive monolith appears on Earth. The monolith, a God type entity that causes jumps in evolution, observes a small tribe of apes positioned next to it. The monolith sees that the apes, having just lost their water hole to another tribe, need a boost in intelligence to continue to survive in the harsh conditions. Soon after this decision one of the members of the ape tribe learns how to use a bone as a weapon, killing the opposing group’s leader with it. After the leader is killed the original ape tribe return to the water hole and throw their weapons triumphantly up in to the air.
After this the film skips millions of years in to the future where another monolith has appeared on the planet Jupiter. Two astronauts: Dr. Frank Poole and Dr. David Bowman are sent on a mission to recover the monolith from the planet. The two are guided by HAL, their ship’s onboard super computer. Soon after the team’s departure HAL informs Bowman that one of the unit’s controlling the ship’s main antennae is about to fail. Bowman and Poole both set out in an EVA pod to remedy the situation, on the way discussing their concerns about HAL, saying that the computer gives them a “bad feeling”, both unaware that HAL is reading their lips through the ship’s windows and plotting to exterminate them both.
2001: a Space Odyssey is definitely one of Kubrick’s best films. It quickly places you in the state of mind necessary for viewing a film of it’s nature, beginning with 3 minutes of black screen while an odd musical arrangement plays over the top. Its meditative nature provides a hypnotic and surreal effect that haunts the viewer for months, or even years. 2001: A Space Odyssey also provides a frightening vision of the future, where there is a worrying dependability on machines to run everyday life. But it’s at the point of realisation that the humans are so completely controlled by technology that the film also becomes a kind of social satire. 2001’s mesmerising qualities are generated mostly through the mind-bogglingly amazing special effects that Kubrick utilises. The effects (generated mostly by Kubrick himself), even earned him his first Oscar win and are still of high quality today even though the film was first released back in 1968. 2001: A Space Odyssey emanates a strong theme of clinical menace, a theme personified by the character of HAL. HAL never physically demonstrates violent or threatening behaviour at any time during the film, yet it’s quietly malicious attitude and it’s need to do anything necessary to get what it wants makes it one of the most frightening characters ever created. Perhaps HAL is an allegory for mankind, suggesting that we as a collective don’t let our emotions get in the way when it comes to having what we want.