2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½

Part of the 2001 Impressions list.

Started watching at 8pm. Needed a nap before hand, but had a couple of drinks and a coffee just in case. And to be sure I stayed awake, had these helpers by my side.


To note: I've seen this film a number of times and have always fallen asleep. Last year was the exception, although I think I may have dozed just a bit near the end because we re-watched the whole post-intermission bit again the following morning. I was determined to stay awake this time.


On this viewing, I almost cried at the very first scene when the sun comes up behind the aligned planets. The music. Shit. The music in the film is so powerful, so perfect. It truly is one big dance between humans, imagination and the universe.

During the Dawn of Man sequence I noticed something this time: the tiger or cougar or whatever he was had bright white eyes. Those eyes appeared again later in the film at least once, in one of the pods.

And before I forget, there is no way in hell that Kermit the Frog wasn't designed based on the outdoor helmets worn by Dave and Frank. I had never noticed it before and I couldn't help but laugh my guts out every time they were dangling in space this time!

This time when I saw the Monolith in the Dawn of Man I kept thinking about how the apes were encountering something they had never seen before and what that meant. In that shot of all of them standing around staring at it, with the desert in full view I kept thinking about when we have to interpret something completely unknown the only tools we have are the things we know. I wondered if seeing the unknown made them understand that there was more than their world and their ways, and whether the Monolith was an opening to think outside the box. A call to imagination. When the ape stared at the bones, it was like he was seeing them for the first time and since he'd already seen the Monolith he now intuited that there were other ways of seeing. He gave the bones a new spin and got the bingo. Imagination was born.

I adore the dance that follows in space. The carousel slowly spinning to the Blue Danube is just pure perfection. Almost like a celebration: we've come this far. Look at our new tools now! They've got nothing to do with mere survival anymore. We are so beyond that. Now the quest is purely intellectual, purely truth, and dammit we are going to dominate this world if it is the last thing we do.


On the way to Jupiter wasn't as exciting to me as it was last year, the first time I hadn't slept through the film. I remember last year seeing this entire segment as the act of creating: the sperm going through the tunnel, and coming onto a foreign landscape that was all cells breaking apart and coming together. This time I only saw the cells breaking apart once or twice, but what was new was that I saw the foetus twice this time in that segment. Oh shit, I think the foetus had the cougar eyes--I think that's where I saw them for a 3rd time.

I always had a hell of time conceiving of eternity until I read a way of thinking about it in a Margaret Atwood book. In it she says to think of eternity as the circumference of a circle. It never ends. This was such a powerful image for me and took a load off my shoulders having spent decades hitting a brick wall trying to conceive of it in a linear fashion or as expansion. The circumference worked perfectly.

So when Dave got to Jupiter, he got to eternity. The circle. The beginning, the middle and the end and the beginning all wrapped into one circumference. Eternity as the cycle.

Last year I had this whole way of seeing the film that was different. I didn't write it down, but my husband kept telling me that it was very unique. Well, this time I was so busy trying to re-create my thoughts from last year that I missed quite a bit in this viewing. Note to self: always go in fresh with no pre-conceived notions. Much better that way.

Edit:
Three things I forgot to write and I want them here to compare with next year's viewing.

The first was that I started counting the days that went by in the film thinking that I wouldn't be surprised if it spanned 7 days. I was able to count to four days, but then it got too friggin difficult to count days in space. Never occurred to me before how you measure days in space. I mean, the sun doesn't do anything for you anymore. Weird.

The second thing was the pen floating in the plane. Floating just like the first tool (the bone) and second tool (the ship during the Blue Danube sequence). Quite the important tool, the mighty pen.

The third only just occurred to me now because Jonathan just called the final white-room scene "the Hotel". I was shocked. To me it has always been Dave's home. He is seeing his life: his future, his death and his birth. All of it. I guess that isn't as obvious as I had thought. Cool. Another thing open to interpretation.

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