Odin’s Insights into 2001: A Space Odyssey
What does the Kubrickian masterpiece tell us about the future we inhabit?
Kubrick’s earlier success of Dr. Strangelove catapulted the director into the public eye, but 2001: A Space Odyssey was by no means a perfect storm for critics or audiences in 1968. The slow pacing would become a hallmark Kubrickian artifact, but it tried the patience of the casual viewer to the breaking point.
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I remember first watching the film as a child and being struck by certain powerful moments: the apes in the beginning, certain sequences between HAL and Dave, the Velcro-slippered flight attendant in the orbital shuttle. There are gulfs between those fiery snapshots. Was I bored? I honestly don’t remember, but I suspect that my experience was something more akin to a trance.
When the film premiered, the great artistic savants of the era like David Bowie and John Lennon immediately understood its potency. For one thing, the transcendent visuals were like nothing that had come before.
But various 1960s luminaries saw other stars within the celluloid than just those provided by the FX department. The philosophic premises underlying the narrative, the exploration of human consciousness, the challenges presented by the tools we use to master reality… these were presented on a canvas that presented each viewer with the opportunity for their individual self-reflection.
Budding scientists saw in 2001 much to be adored as well.
Much of the film was written haphazardly, jinked into position by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick as they went. But the incredible levels of research they went into when considering technology laid a foundation for utter believability that wooed audiences searching for reality-soaked portrayals of outer space.