2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

“A major work will either establish the genre or abolish it; and the perfect work will do both” - Walter Benjamin

2001: A Nolan Odyssey unrestored 70mm 50th anniversary 50 years of 2001 (26,280,000 mins, Colour, The Universe, Always) P.S. I took my mum so my blood mother and my spiritual mother could finally meet. They got along great. (Mum: “HAL is the monolith’s baby.”)

Hands up who was cursed at 10 by Stanley Kubrick and an 80s cathode ray while every other kid in school watched Milo and Otis instead. How to Turn a Young Impressionable Into a Society Reject Overnight. Curriculum Vitae: Dysthymia, Spectrum Cat 4, INFJ, MPD (boiing!) Hello Cinema Dementia. Khachaturian, Ligeti and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide gave me my aural and retinal implants. The non-existent tempo gave me my passion for slow cinema. Jupiter Mission gave me my mistrust of computers. I see you HAL, you little shit.

A: Not the. Just one of. Not the one. A one, of which there are infinite. An image, one of the All, but All is Image. (NB: Google ‘Spinoza and cinema’.)

Space: Terran. Extraterran. Outer. Inner. Interstitial. Non-. Other. Else.

Odyssey: Sagittarian man says dammit Janet I’m gonna actually follow the call of the sirens, pull back the curtain on this existential wizard-of-oz bullshit and see what happens (d’oh!) Either stay trapped out here playing mindchess with a psychopathic synthetic cyclops that spells THE MODERN WORLD, or slip through a razzle dazzle rent in the fabric of timespace into my own personal atemporal hotelroom to be forwardsbackwards-haunted all at once by futurepast echoes, an embryonic übermensch dangling from the rafters of ascension. Are you sure this is what you had in mind, Zoroaster?

Is this the tree of life (2+0+0+1)? Is the first major epochal transition of early man the discovery of violence? Is man a natural carnivore? Is man natural? Clarke and Kubrick argued for years about this. What is the Jupiter Mission? <insert your own story here> To understand the role of emotional intelligence in the battle against artificial intelligence? Our Dave didn’t need no stress pills to take down that little pervert. (You’re my hero, Dave. “Davey, Davey, give me your answer do, I’m half-crazy all for the love of you.” Shut it all down, Dave. So sorry you had to take one for the team at the end there, Dave. Jesus and Toto are proud of you, Dave.) The people sat in deafening collective awkward silence as the AI dilemma of the present day was rubbed right into their faces. This film exists for the benefit of all those who bookmarked Frankenstein halfway through to go jerk off in the lab, and they still haven’t figured it out. Wake up you transhumanist sons-of-bitches!!

The 4,000,000 year war bone-cuts to space race and Blue Danube coitus metaphor, Leonard Russia-ter trying not to lose his nerve, and the piercing feedback scream at the occulted intra-sensory point of alignment, at the miraculous lightning moment of drifting cosmic ovum-spermatozoa contact, of Bowmanian transcendence, of personal and interpersonal neurological evolution, of conception on every conceivable conceptual level. Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla blahhh. I never want to write about this film. Go read all the other much better reviews. Some things are too profound to write about. The written word is just one language. 2001 is something else.

Films like this don’t just happen. In fact, they never did before and never will since this one spectacularly strange instance. The birthdeath of the mainstream art film. Is it Faustian, or Promethean, or both? Is Kubrick Homer, or Floyd, or Bowman, or all that and more? What is the monolith? The monolith is whatever the hell you say it is. The monolith is your own intelligent life. Not only does it perfectly fit the dimensions of the 70mm cells it’s emblazoned on, it also represents the best tool we’ve ever had for attempting to engage with and understand otherness and alterity, in us, through us, around us. Not spaceships and rockets, science or religion, but film, which is everything at once. 2001 symbolizes itself through the monolith. Look around you, it's everywhere. Look up there, it's the film poster. Look right in front of you right now, it's the screen or the tablet or the device you're reading this on. It's all things in one thing. The great in the small. The Aleph, beyond good and evil. The philosopher’s stone. The holy grail. Knock knock. It’s your old mate Kubrick still communicating with us from beyond the grave.

What does it matter whether or not we flew to the moon and back? What does it matter if the Earth is flat or pear-shaped or surfing on the back of an eternal column of turtle? Who cares about the truth? Ours is mystery and it’s so beautiful it’s terrifying.

2001 is the greatest of great works.
2001 is an intellectual wormhole.
2001 is a horror movie that affirms life.
2001 says “You are a living thing and you always will be.”

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light” - Stanley Kubrick


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