“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot
Call it a visual illusion or reality, the trip of watching this film is quite unlike any other film journey in nature or length. Its just otherworldly experience one has to feel on his own.
Based on one of the finest Science Fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is the most ambitious grand film of Kubrick’s career and it’s the classic sci-fi film ever made and the best ever seen by me. Sorry to Lucas, Spielberg and Ridley Scott but Kubrick’s this film is the father of all sci-fis. Pushing forward more the visual narrative and mind blowing special effects it begins at ‘the dawn of humanity’ and ventures into future; completing the full circle of human exploration. Backed by stunning sets and western classical background music, it reminds us the vastness of space and our place in it.
Perhaps there’s no other scene as brilliant as the evolutionary ape throws the bone weapon into the air in the beginning of ‘The Dawn of Man’ scene. After which camera takes a brilliant jump cut to a space station in the outer space, continuing the movement of human progress and exploration millions of years later. This is the greatest visual metaphor Kubrick created with his signature irony. From the pre-historic ape that triumphs discovering the bone (the first weapon) to the space exploration, the focal point here is man’s struggle for mastery over weapon/technology and the mysteries of spiritual. Intelligence, learning and desire of possession are all inherent part of primate (read-human ape), today we are all covered apes and after millions of years of history evolved as the supreme species and progressed in leaps and bounds compared to all rest of the animals but even today no manmade machine remains entirely fool proof. The curiosity of progress is becoming an invention of threat now. Human Control is a big illusion and all tools of science are fallible. Master of earth is still child in space.
Kubrick conveyed an idea which I would again like to relate with Desmond Morris’ two brilliant and must read books named ‘The Naked Ape’ and ‘The Human Zoo’. The idea highlighted very significant point that, although progress has been made, the arrogance or ego produced by progress corrupts man more than anything. This corrupt mind has made the man nature’s victim rather than its master. Man is still in Stone Age, so what if he wears Versace designed clothes or using gizmo friendly existence. Remove the tool whether its evolutionary ‘bone’ or the advance science of ‘HAL’ spacecraft and we are again nothing more than impotent monkey. In his blind exploration of ‘progress’ the man forgets the basic that it’s ‘wisdom’ which will save him in a long run, not ‘knowledge’.
Kubrick earned two Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay writer co-authored with Clarke but the film won only single Oscar for its stunning Special Effects. It is quite shocking that the Director who achieved an Olympian height with his brilliant and some of the most thought provoking films in almost all genres didn’t get a single academy award in his entire career.
It’s the favorite film of the following legends- Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese and David Fincher.
P.S- Those who have seen the film and missed the points just watch brief animated analysis of the film on- www.kubrick2001.com
I watched the whole film once again after visiting this site and enjoyed and understood it better.