2001 - What am I missing?

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by Art Andrews, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    I have never been able to sit through all of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but since most people seem to feel it is the pinnacle of space movies, I picked up the audio book the other day and just finished it...

    Seriously? That was the most pointless and inane drivel ever! I can now understand why I can't get through the movie... the story just goes nowhere and isn't really about anything! As always, when I feel like this, I have to wonder, is there something I am missing? If you are one of the 2001 lovers, please tell me what it is that is so great about this story.
  2. terryr

    terryr Sr Member

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    You're missing the Art, Art.

    Either you like it or you don't. Either you like my girlfriend or you don't. I can't explain her to you.

    When I was in high school a local multi-plex brought 2001 in so I went to see it. The female attendant and I were talking for a while, then as I walked into the movie, she put her hand on me to block my way.
    "That's a weird science fiction movie" she said.
    "I know" I said.
    "oh" She said, and withdrew her hand and wiped it off like I was diseased.

    Everything is weird to somebody.
  3. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    I like your girlfriend. ;)
  4. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    Let me see if I just understand the most basic story.

    Something puts a stone on earth a long time ago that teaches the apes to be more than apes and starts them on the journey to be man.

    Long time passes. We go to the moon where another stone is stored that leads us to a third stone on Saturn.

    One guy makes it to Saturn and... has a bunch of weird stuff happen to him that is supposed to be similar to the evolutionary leap from ape to man.

    Does that about sum it up?
  5. Sandman0077

    Sandman0077 Sr Member

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    When you put it like that it sounds like a pretty awesome movie lol
  6. slave1pilot

    slave1pilot Sr Member

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    at least it's not an estrogen fest of crap
  7. Jedifyfe

    Jedifyfe Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Art. You are missing that this is a Kubrick film and he doesn't have story lines just visuals.
  8. nwjedidave

    nwjedidave Sr Member

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    AMEN Art. I've only lasted 15-20'ish minutes into it.
  9. SSgt Burton

    SSgt Burton Sr Member

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    I'll start by saying I'm certainly no expert on the interpretations of 2001. I love the film and have read a few takes on its meaning around the net. This is what I think from the various things I've read:

    Extraterrestrials place the Monolith on Earth. It gives the apes the nudge to discover the tool. The first being a bone. The prehistoric apes use it as a weapon to obtain the resource of the pool of water the tribes have been fighting over.

    The jump is to show the pinnacle of Man's tools- the "falling" satellite is an orbital weapons platform. There has been debate on whether it is a "weapon" or not-

    However check out this familiar shape:


    Certainly resembles the first tool/weapon: the bone:


    The whole sequence of the Pan Am Orion flyer is to demonstrate that while Man is at the top of his game on Earth, in outer space he is a child once again-

    The waitress has a close up of her feet as she walks. Her step is unsteady. She has to take "baby steps." Man must once again learn to walk.

    The food we eat is like "baby food."

    And we must be "toilet trained" all over again. The "Zero Gravity Toilet" instructions are long and intimidating.

    The Monolith on the moon is essentially a signal for the Extraterrestrials that Man has advanced enough that they are ready for the next step.

    So the Jupiter Mission begins. On board the spaceship is the ultimate of Man's tools- the HAL 9000 computer. HAL controls the ship's major functions. In essence the humans are just along for the ride.

    HAL has secretly been given instructions to keep the nature of the mission a secret until they arrive at Jupiter. However as a logical computer HAL is unsure how to "keep a secret." HAL becomes paranoid that Bowman and Poole will discover the secret before it is time.

    HAL makes a mistake about the Discovery's antenna failing (or deliberately lies about it failing in an attempt to distract Bowman and Poole from discovering the mission's true nature- the existence of intelligent/advanced life in outer space). Bowman and Poole decide to turn HAL off.

    But HAL does not want to be turned off. Man's ultimate tool has obtained sentience. Man has lost complete control of his tools and it nearly succeeds in destroying him.

    But Man is still resourceful enough to survive and separates himself from his tools- Bowman turns HAL off even though HAL ran the ship; if Bowman had remained aboard Discovery he would have eventually died as he would not have been able to pilot the ship manually back to Earth.

    In a nutshell yes- but I think it is a case of the next step being freed of our reliance on our tools.

  10. wannab

    wannab Sr Member

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    Clarke says that it is a weapon in the extras doc so I don't understand any debate on that point. Actually there are many points that are explained in the doc (on bluray) that will clear up a few questions.

  11. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Kubrick set out to make a definitive science fiction movie, one that differed greatly from most. And one of the things that made it greatly different was the lack of a plot, but overabundance in style and symbolism. He's bascially showing you the events, and you are left to make up your own mind. To me, that's a good thing, especially for science fiction. I prefer stories where that gets you to actually think for yourself instead of giving you an answer at the end of the whole thing. That's why most people dislike 2001: A Space Odyssey, because they're expecting a straightforward plot (in fact, I think that most people disliked it when it first came out was because of the fact that it didn't have a plot and people going in were expecting the typical generic, B-Grade plot because before 2001: A Space Odyssey, most people considered sci-fi as being strictly B-grade films and pulp novels).
  12. SmilingOtter

    SmilingOtter Master Member

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    I was very disappointed. 2001 was nothing like the movie.

  13. benhs1898

    benhs1898 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Art, you've got some of the basic ideas down. Most of what is left is whether or not you value that or the visual journey to finding it.

    I thought the themes were stimulating and I enjoyed the visual experience of finding those themes.

    Ultimately, all art is subjective. No such thing as "bad", just "I didn't like.
  14. CessnaDriver

    CessnaDriver Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Man the flick is cerebral and slow. That's a given.
    It's also awe invoking.
    Who are we?
    What are we?
    Where did we come from and where are we going?
    What's next for us? What are the possibilities? maybe there are no limits to
    how far mankind can evolve.
    Are we alone?

    Those questions have to mean something to you first I think before
    being able to enjoy this tale's take on things.

    I do at times envy Bowman's leap in evolution into the starchild,
    as terrifying as it seems to be to that level of acension. A god for all
    reasonable purposes to us, yet still a child of the stars to him.

    Would you take that one way trip?

    What films today even come close to these kinds of topics? LOL

    Not * much.
  15. Vermithrax 4

    Vermithrax 4 Well-Known Member

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    I love 2001 simply because of the experience of it. Each sequence seems so incredibly real, from the prehistoric man sequence to the Pan-Am flight to the trip to Jupiter. Also, I love all the little touches of what space travel would be like and all the familiar brands being present (at least ones from the 60s) like Howard Johnsons or Bell Atlantic. I don't find any of it boring whatsoever mainly because I like films that proceed slowly, allowing the audience to just experience life in a particular time or on a particular world. The meaning of the film is entirely open to interpretation. To me the film is like WATCHING a classical symphony.
  16. phase pistol

    phase pistol Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Audiences were just as divided in 1968. Of course back then more people had the option of dropping acid in the movie theater.

  17. LRL

    LRL Member

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    2001 is not your typical movie, it has silence, lengthy sequences, slow pace, and makes demands on it's audience. My ten year old loved it precisely because it was so different to the usual movie fayre. Saying that the psycadelic sequence is always watched in fast forward by me, but it really is a great movie.
  18. Carson Dyle

    Carson Dyle Sr Member

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    With all due respect to Arthur Clarke, if ever a story was meant to be seen and not read it's "2001."

    Re: the film: What you're "missing" is an iconic masterpiece that has inspired artists, scientists, engineers, designers, software titans and filmmakers for over forty years. It is, simply put, one of the most enduring and influential films in the history of the motion-picture medium; a classic by which all other science-fiction films will continue to be judged for years to come.

    On a personal level, it's the closest thing I've ever come to having a religious experience in a movie theater. If ever a film has captured the awe, mystery, terror, and grandeur of the universe it's "2001."
  19. Straker

    Straker Well-Known Member

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    Not quite.

    Not quite.XD Just because film makers like Kubrick don't hand people exposition on a platter for the audience doesn't mean it isn't there.

    That's a very good analysis of the film over all but the ending is more than that and the Jupiter mission had more reasons for happening that just because. They went to Jupiter because the signal the monolith on the Moon sent out was directed at the monolith in Jupiter's orbit.

    "But Man is still resourceful enough to survive and separates himself from his tools- Bowman turns HAL off even though HAL ran the ship; if Bowman had remained aboard Discovery he would have eventually died as he would not have been able to pilot the ship manually back to Earth."

    Dave and Frank said they could turn off Hal's higher brain functions without shutting down the rest of the ship. I'm not sure what Dave's motivations for not turning the ship back were in terms of the movie so maybe you're right and that was something covered in the novel.

    When they arrived and Dave went to the monolith a gate was opened. That incomprehensible light show was inter-dimensional travel. When he arrived at the end he was placed in an observation chamber by the beings that set up the Monoliths. They observed him but due to the nature of time and that chamber his aging appeared to take leaps forward. The ending was Dave transcending his physical form and becoming reborn as that child at the ending so he could be the guardian of Earths evolutionary path. I believe he represents a further evolution of man past where mankind was during that story. I'm probably not as eloquent at explaining this but I tried my best XD For the hell of it check out 2010. It's a bit more straight forward in terms of story and does a good job putting the first film in perspective without ruining Kubricks vision.
  20. Shadow345

    Shadow345 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, that mostly captures my thoughts on 2001 as well.
  21. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

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    Agree with Carlson; it touches me at the deepest level on the Big Questions of our place and purpose in the universe, to the point of providing a quasi-religious experience. It's about the only film to do this for me. I mean that's something that even Solaris - often rated higher than 2001 in the intellectual SF stakes - does not give me.

    Plus, I LOVE the lack of heroes, romance, plot. I LOVE this emptiness - it frees you up to experience the cosmic vastness, in which we are just sandwich-eating, toilet-visiting hairless apes, as Kubrick shows us so deliberately; he should be applauded just for waking people up to this perspective alone. Instead of melodramatic plot moves, the interest is often in subtle satiric areas like the fact that people are shown eating as much as they're shown in meaningful dialogue or action. Kubrick's a wry devil. What plot there is is largely on a millennia-spanning, aeon-spanning scale, while the people spend half the film opening foil-wrapped lunches! This is GREAT! It should be remembered too that Kubrick's previous film was the outright satire, Dr. Strangelove. In 2001, Kubrick is still pricking satirically away at man's folly, albeit in a far, far more subtle way. In fact, the infinitely restrained, minimalist, barely-detectable satire in 2001 has connections to the late work of Jacques Tati, in my mind. 'Playtime' features the same sort of 'bird's eye-view-of-humanity' detachment, dialogue being treated as if it were merely the background tweeting of birds...
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  22. BlobVanDam

    BlobVanDam Sr Member

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    I'm equally baffled by the appeal of this movie. And that's after watching it twice.

    The first time I was super excited, because everyone was raving about how amazing it was. 2 hours later (or more, I think time actually came to a grinding halt), I was annoyed and confused. I read about what the heck the movie was actually about, but still wasn't amused.
    The second time, my friend was telling me about how much he wanted to see it, and I told him he didn't want to, but he insisted. After the movie finished, he stood up and said "Wow. What a self indulgent piece of crap." :lol My thoughts exactly.

    I understand why it was influential, but I'll never understand how it's entertaining. Sorry, guys. :confused
  23. Thrillhouse

    Thrillhouse Member

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    I can see the argument from both sides:

    I first saw the film (in the year 2001) at the cinema and was left confused by the story and exhausted by all those long, long speachless scenes.

    A couple years later I found the book for cheap and thought "There was definetly something going on there that I missed", so I bought it and read it. It made a lot of sense of the scenes and I enjoyed it (and it sequels)

    I later re-watched the movie (and have a few times since) and it now makes sence. Once I understood what the hell was going on, it was fun to sit back and enjoy the visuals of the film. - Although I do fastforward through the final scene.

    So basically what I'm trying to say that it is a terrible movie, but a great adaptaion of the book.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  24. robstyle

    robstyle Master Member

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    and he is a replicant, ,,, wait, wrong movie.
  25. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Art, you´ve summarized the plot, not the story.

    The story is about how an extraterrestrial entity influenced the course of mankind.

    And that does sound interesting, right? Like right out of Star Trek ...

    Brad, I hate to say it.
    But Kubrick was a movie maker who had balls. Balls of brass.
    And he was a nut case.
    Double whammy.

    Now where is EvilRocketeer these days?

    First time I saw the movie, I fell asleep, btw. A very impressionable teenager, but 2001 was not a good choice as the second part of a double feature with an action movie as the first part.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  26. Godsmulligan

    Godsmulligan Active Member

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    I can't belive no one has brought up the 30+ min. of Chroma-key. Thats tough to get through even on fast forward.
  27. jcoffman99

    jcoffman99 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The only thing that interests me about this movie/novel is if you move the letters in HAL one letter forward in the alphabet, you get IBM, which in 1968 was going to bring computers to the world. If you look at it from a technology taking over standpoint it's a little interesting. THe film is mostly just boring,self-indulgent nothingness though.

  28. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    The movie makes SOOOO much more sense when you're stoned.
  29. benhs1898

    benhs1898 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Only overindulgent in the sense that an auteur should have complete domain over his art, which Kubrick did masterfully within the Hollywood system. It is only boring if all you got was a portion of the surface narrative.
  30. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    I'd be interested to hear what some of those who liked 2001 think of Kubrick's other films.

    For me:

    Dr Strangelove - meh... just not my kind of movie. Had some funny moments in it but felt very Mel Brooks to me.

    A Clockwork Orange - Hated every second of it. Just hated it.

    The Shining - One of my top 5 movies. Epic in every way and a great movie! Didn't quite care for the change in the ending.

    Full Metal Jacket - Again, epic. Not in my top 5, but still, an absolutely amazing war movie.

    Eyes Wide Shut - See A Clockwork Orange...

    Even though I didn't care for it, I do see the story in A Clockwork Orange, so to me, it isn't so much that Kubrick's movies don't have a story... some of them are just really lame and preachy.
  31. benhs1898

    benhs1898 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Well, work by true film artists will always seem preachy because of the amount of control they have.

    All of his films stand together for me. I am not a huge fan of A Clockwork Orange but I know there are huge amounts of subtext in it.

    Actually, this guy may be able to help you appreciate (not necessarily love) Kubrick's films.

    Rob Ager's film analysis page

    He writes very detailed analyses on films. Mostly focusing on important "coded" sub-themes. If you like The Shining, read his analysis on it. You'll never look at it the same way again.
  32. darth_myeek

    darth_myeek Sr Member

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    What you "get" from 2001 is up to you. Feel free to not like it, that's fine, but the meaningless comment cracked me up. Meaningless or Meaningless for you? Just about everything can have a meaning, it just depends if it is relevant in your microcosm, or if you know how to find something meaningful. Films today lay that meaning out for you on a silver platter, and if you miss it just wait a few minutes, they'll tell you again.

    (for me)
    2001 is about survival, curiosity and advancement. It suggests where we come from, what sparked our evolution, that there are patterns in aggression which drive our advancement, that technology may out evolve us and that there are beings who are sentient beyond our capacity who have studied us like ants for eons.

    The slow pace is a point in the film. It takes a while to get to point "B"; whether in evolution, space travel to Jupiter or even understanding a 50 year old film.

    I also appreciate it from a design element, technological filmmaking achievement, and that the film was made pre-moon walk (Jackson's too.)

  33. R.P. McMurphy

    R.P. McMurphy Well-Known Member

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    I love 2001 as well as all the other Kubrick films you listed with the exceptoin of Eyes Wide Shut.

    I was dazzled with the concepts and visuals of the film.

    I think HAL is fantastic. He was listed as the 13th greatest film villain in the AFI 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villians. Both Clarke and Kubrick deny that HAL comes from the shifting of one letter from IBM but it does seem plausible that that was indeed their motivation.

    The movie inspired me to research its themes and meanings. While I'm often curious about exploring any deeper meaning of films and books, no other sci-fi film has inspired an academic interest like that in me. I found exploring the film to be very rewarding.
  34. Qui-Gonzalez

    Qui-Gonzalez Master Member

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    Rob is this week's "My Hero!"
  35. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

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    An interesting side-note to the Chroma-key is that the Beatles got hold of some of the unused stuff and put it in Magical Mystery Tour.

    I dunno... Kubrick conveys the enormity of the universe in the Beyond the Infinite sequence, something no other film-maker has ever bothered to express, except perhaps for John Carpenter in Dark Star (Talby in the dome). Kubrick gives you the immensity of the Void, the place where we actually ARE. Star Wars knocked that on the head, and ever since, space has just been a playground for adventure and human-scale drama etc., with the possible exception of Alien (the crew's desperate distance from Earth). 2001 and in a small way Space 1999 (which despite being largely crap was influenced by the tone of 2001) preserve and express an idea of space conveyed by the Apollo astronauts, one of whom mentioned a 'blackness beyond conception', another expressed overwhelming ontological disorientation at seeing the Earth as a small blue ball hanging in that blackness, and a profoundly disturbing sense of being totally lost in time and in space. Kubrick expresses this magnificently. SW doesn't, Aliens doesn't, Avatar doesn't, Star trek movies don't. For them, space is just a background. Not for Kubrick. Eschewing conventional adventure, Kubrick made a serious statement about the appalling mystery of the human condition and its wider setting - the void.
  36. J Scorn

    J Scorn Sr Member

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    ahh at last.. im not the only one lol
  37. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    I think everyone was. Where's my ticket to the moon and space colonies? I'd be off this dirtball in a minute. I like 2001 but I prefer 2010.
  38. joeranger

    joeranger Sr Member

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    Not sure if I kicked this off with my recent 2001 - A Space "8-Track" or 3/4 versions of HAL. Oops!

    I was never a big fan as a child of Star Wars and Star Trek.

    I think Kev's analysis is spot on; we are like children in our next evolution. The filming is brilliant but over indulgent.

    Space Movies are like War Movies or courtroom dramas. If they were accurate they would suck.

    Kubrik really does grasp the fundamentals of space travel and evolution.
  39. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

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    Regarding the charges of indulgence etc. I do think one has to make allowance for the fact that in 1968 no film had shown spaceflight with anything like the realism Kubrick offers, thus Kubrick was justified in laying the process of space travel out so 'indulgently'. The impact and historical value of these scenes is partly lost on the post-Star Wars generation. Not only that, but the justification for Kubrick's leisurely 'indulgent' space travelogue approach is no longer clear. On release, the film was in effect a ticket into space, and in part was intended to be experienced as such: sit tight while Kubrick's space stewardesses ferry you up to the Space Hilton and so on. Today - thanks to later films and TV (actually spawned by Kubrick's monumental visual breakthroughs in 2001) - people are just not going to be as interested in ten minute shots of a shuttle docking or a pod being made ready for EVA, but in '68 all this stuff was, I think, rightly dwelt upon. However, that's not to say audiences in '68 were all riveted by the film. All the complaints being voiced here were made back then, too, lol...

    Anyway, it all works as visual poetry. Like Koyannisqatsi, the movie always refreshes me, precisely because it throws conventional pace and narrative formulas out the window, in favour of poetry.
  40. nightwind1

    nightwind1 Active Member

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    I truly feel sad for you. 2001, both movie and book, is one of the greatest SF stories of the late 20th Century. I'm sorry you can't see that.
  41. Carson Dyle

    Carson Dyle Sr Member

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    Kubrick may have been "self-indulgent" (show me an artistic genius who isn't), but I submit he was among a small handful of 20th century filmmakers whose vision was worthy of being indulged.

    As for assertions that "2001" is "meaningless," that's only true if you regard our relationship with the universe meaningless. Certainly no other narrative feature film has examined that relationship more artfully or intelligently.
  42. jcoffman99

    jcoffman99 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Perhaps this is my problem with the film. I'm a post-Star Wars child so I have been spoiled. I'll try and give it another viewing some time and repress my inner X-Wing.:thumbsup
  43. deadbolt

    deadbolt Sr Member

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    The Shining and 2001 are both amongst my favorite films. The hidden narrative(s) in The Shining are crazy deep! I still haven't been able to put that one together entirely.

    2001 I believe is mostly visual and has somewhat of a 'meaningless' story, but definitely not in a bad way. I remember reading somewhere that either Kubrick or Clarke said that if people can figure the film out, then they've failed at their intentions..or something along the lines of that. So if that's true, then I guess the film's meaning is whatever we want it to be! ;)

    As for the whole HAL/IBM thing, IBM already existed at the time 2001 was being made and had involvement in 2001 as well. There is an IBM logo on the 'ipad' type things the astronauts Dave and Frank use. And also on one of the 2001 blu-ray special features, Arthur C. Clarke finally stated that the IBM/HAL relation was indeed true. And if I remember correctly he said that IBM was also quite proud of it.

    Like the others have said, don't expect a standard filming/viewing style when watching 2001. It's far from standard. :D

  44. Carson Dyle

    Carson Dyle Sr Member

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    Would you mind posting a link to that?

    My understanding is that the HAL/IBM connection never occurred to either Clarke or Kubrick until someone pointed it out to them after the fact.
  45. wannab

    wannab Sr Member

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    Actually he states that it is not true in the doc.

  46. deadbolt

    deadbolt Sr Member

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    If that's so, then I might have remembered incorrectly..:facepalm

    Thanks Doug, I guess I need to watch those documentaries again! :lol

  47. Montagar

    Montagar Legendary Member Community Staff

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    I suggest that you add two more films to your Kubrick list...

    Paths of Glory - You may like it (one of my favorite fims)

    Barry Lyndon - You will hate it. :lol (again, one of my favs)

    ...The Shining happens to be one my least favorite Kubrick films, as a big fan of the book, the movie just didn't work for me at all.

  48. wannab

    wannab Sr Member

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    Hey, I only remember because I watched it about a week ago. Give me another month and the senior brain farts kick in -- ffffftt gone! :lol

  49. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    Please don't take this in any kind of condescending way, but to me, exploring the process of space travel is like watching paint dry. The size of our own system, much less the galaxy is so ridiculously enormous that I think it is beyond our ability to truly understand or wrap our minds around.... so to try to tackle something so immense seems just odd and pointless to me.

    Perhaps I am just not "deep" enough to get it, but pondering the vastness of the universe to that level seems like an effort in frustration and futility, as would be trying to guess the next stage of human "evolution." I just don't get the point or purpose and for me, it is not entertaining at all. This is not to say that it might not entertain others, or that I would think less of those who are interested in it, but for me, pondering something like that just doesn't do anything for me or enrich my life in any way.

  50. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    I will check those out.

    I will agree that the movie didn't hold a candle to the book, but I really loved the style of the movie and the look of the hotel. There was just something about the look and feel that was amazing.

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