2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★½

PROS:This film is a visual masterpiece and maybe the best sci-fi achievement in motion picture history. Themes like human evolution, technological advancement and artificial intelligence are exceptionally developed here. The plot is multilayered and it's reasonable to be presented in four sections.
The first section focuses on the first evolution of mankind. The strongest animals are the ones that survive (a leopard devours a tapir) until the sudden appearance of a strange entity, in the shape of a monolith. Apes are triggered by the monolith and view it as God and an inspiration for them to use bones as tools (specifically as weapons) and dominate against their enemies. The human mimes did a fantastic job as apes and the slow motion scene when the ape raises the bone is one of the most iconic moments in film history (it has even been used as a parody in various occasions). The transition from this moment to the second part and the space shuttle symbolises the human evolution through the passage of centuries. The space travel is already something commonplace for human race who has even obeyed the gravity. However, they feel small again and must learn to walk again, eat like babies, even follow instructions for the toilet. But they aren't afraid anymore and succeed to adjust. As a result when they touch the monolith in the moon, they show no fear or curiosity and they are ready for the next step of evolution.
The third section illustrates perfectly the full dependence of humans by technology. Humans depend on artificial intelligence in order to explore further the universe but eventually are manipulated because of their arrogance and the lack of human connection. In the end, the tools that they used, turned against them. Hal 9000 is the most memorable character of the film. The deep voice and the red eyeball create a terrifying artificial entity that can't be controlled. The most ambiguous part, of course, is the fourth. The monolith here works as a stargate or wormhole to guide humans to the next phase of evolution. The remaining austronaut travels through time and space and sees himself getting older. He is afraid of the new (like the apes in the beginning) and seeks solutions via the monolith. This fact is symbolised when he tries to touch the alien like David attempted to get closer to God. In the end, he transforms to star baby that symbolizes the rebirth of the mankind.
From a technical point, the film is impeccable. The cinematography and product design have aged well (the rotating set is brilliant) and it's evident the influence in subsequent movies. The classic music or the non existence of it create an atmosphere that helps you absorb every detail of the movie. The use of colours when the astronaut enters the stargate makes the experience trippy and terrifying for the viewer.
CONS:The narrative pace of the movie is slow in some parts. Sure, this is something intentional in order to pay attention every detail but some takes are needlessly long (just a nitpicking).


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