/ #science fiction #movie reviews 

2001 - A Space Odyssey - A Review

I am going to assume that you have already seen this movie, and are open to discussing what would otherwise be spoilers. Turn around NOW if you have not seen this movie yet!

Also, I have not yet read the books or watched the other movies, so some of my thoughts below might be divergent from what was uncovered in those later works.

What a great weekend! It all started with a session on focus to fix the issues with my blog deployment - something had broken when I had deployed Hugo the last time and I hadn’t been able to fix it.But one long session of debugging and painfully learning about git submodule later, I managed to get it running properly, I think. Only this deployment will tell whether I truly learnt the right lessons from last time. (edit: I hadn’t)

On that high note, we went to watch the 70mm print of “2001: A Space Odyssey” recreated front the originals by Christopher Nolan. Now that is a movie that is evergreen! If that movie was released in any year whatsoever, it would still be the best movie from that year! A part of me wonders how this movie might have impacted the trajectory of my life had I watched it earlier. But another part of me is glad that I only experienced it now when I have a slightly better vocabulary to describe the beauty of its art!

2001 is the work of artists who were masters of both…


It is unbelievable how much Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke got right about the future, in 1968! The portrayal of The Dawn of Man, how it all started, and of how it then ended, with us trying to touch the Monolith, is one amazing story-telling feat!

Kubrick and Clarke ask us to contemplate on the journey of man, from the Dawn to Dusk. By taking us on their interpretation of that journey, they suggest us to question the essence of humanity itself.

Does using a tool make us human? If the apes who discovered how to use tools were the “Dawn of Man”, then it is possible to draw a straight line from them to the space age humans who make interplanetary video calls and use voice commands to tell the on-board supercomputer HAL what to do. After all whether it is a crude bone or a super computer, they are all tools at the disposal of humans for furthering their goals.

Does the desire to protect our own existence make us human? The apes at the beginning as well as HAL both have this “desire” to preserve themselves. Is this an indicator of “life”? Of consciousness?

Does the desire to touch something as beautiful but devoid of intrinsic meaning as The Monolith make us human? The Monolith itself isn’t imbibed with any intrinsic value, other than simply its existence. Its existence, in perfect proportions, is more than enough to cause considerable interest in whoever finds themselves to be near it. And somehow, from the dawn of man to the beyond-time Space baby, the desire to touch it seems to be universal. Is it that the simple existence of beauty, and the desire to be close to it, is what makes us human?


Is there a “God” out there? It is clear that the Monolith is created by a non-human race, who have used these Monoliths to guide man from the dawn of mankind. But who are they? What is their agenda? Are they benevolent or do they have a nefarious purpose?

…and craft

The sublimity of Kubrick’s skill is evident in every dimension of this movie. Every element in every frame in every scene is dealt with the utmost care, with each uplifting the other, pulling you in deeper and deeper, allowing you the freedom of revelling in your awe for just enough time to let your jaw drop to the floor. This level of craft was necessary for him to be able to communicate and explore these deep and vast topics with us.

The set design, the camera work, the challenging exploration of every physics lesson you had ever paid attention to as you try to explain to yourself how they must have filmed the floating pen scene or the rotating shots of the woman with the tray, is just as mind blowing today as it must have been back when it was released! And then you remember that this movie was released a year before man landed on the moon - and you forget about picking up your jaw from the floor again.

As if the visuals were not enough to make this movie great, Kubrick masterfully chooses to use music and silence to create a sense of pace (the breathing sounds), space (the silence) and momentum (the Blue Danube waltz, a piece of classical music that spins around musically and usually accompanies the spinning dance waltz, and is set masterfully to the spinning of the space stations and planetary bodies). This transcendent use of both positive and negative space in the realm of sound elevates the visuals just as much as the visuals elevate the music!

In the end, Kubrick’s movie is a masterpiece as relevant today, if not more, as the day it was released not because of how much was shown and explained, but because of how much was not. It is a work of art that will last as long as man, because as long as man is concerned with what it means to be human, it will always be able to contribute to the conversation.