Monday, 24 October 2016

Film Review - 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey was directed by Stanley Kubrick and released in 1968. The film has a confusing plot that leaves a lot up for interpretation, leading there to be many different idea's on the films story. One perspective of this is that '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, 1968).

Figure 1: Movie Poster

The use of music in 2001: A Space Odyssey is interesting as there are scenes where there is nothing but music and motion with nobody talking at all and also scenes where there is no sound at all, just the emptiness of space. This has prompted people to write that 'One of the more crucial elements of 2001 is the lack of sound  that dominates the film, which is true to that there would be no sound in space (no atmosphere means no medium for sound transmission).' (Scott, 2009). The music used was classical music that wasn't created for the film. The use of a score designer for the film would have attempted 'to underline the action - to give us emotional clues. The music chosen by Kubrick exists outside the action.' (Ebert, 1997). This use of music encourages the viewer to observe the scenes as they happen instead of needing to respond to them the same way you would if the music was there to evoke a response.

Figure 2: Spacecrafts

The camera shots used in the film also create a distance from the events as they keep the characters in the middle to back of the screen (see fig 3) and rarely move into the foreground. This creates a sense of distance as it is difficult to see the faces of the characters which makes it feel impersonal. There are few exceptions to this, one of the most prominent being the use of a close-up shot on the character of Dave as he is shutting down the computer HAL (see fig 4). The shots show the lack of emotion on Dave's face as he destroys a creation he had previously said was like another crew member. The scene evokes a sadness and sympathy that feels wrong given it's directed at a machine, a computer with dubious ability to think or feel independently of it's programming.

Figure 3

Figure 4


Roger Ebert, 1997: 2001: A Space Odessey Review:

Almar Haflidason, 1968: 2001: A Space Odessey Review:

Ridley Scott, 2009: 2001: A Space Odessey Review:


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Figure 3:

Figure 4:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alex,

    Excellent discussion around the use of sound and music :)
    I just felt that your review came to a bit of an abrupt end... always try and draw some sort of conclusion at the end; maybe you could have looked at other films that '2001' has influenced and rounded your discussion off with that.
    Also, be wary of writing something like this - 'This has prompted people to write that...' as it sounds as though this a idea held by many people, when it fact it just one person's opinion. (In fact, looking at the quote, you should have referenced it as a secondary source, as it is a quote by Ridley Scott, but taken from an article by Casey Kazan. You could have referenced it directly to Scott himself, if you could find details of the speech he made at the 2007 Venice Film Festival) I would have gone with something like this -
    'As Scott himself said in his talk at the 2007 Venice Film Festival, "One of the more crucial elements of 200..."(Scott, 2007, cited in Kazan, 2009)