Sunday, 20 October 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey - Film Review

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Film Review.

Although many parts I didn't quite understand, I enjoyed watching this film. As the film didn't have much of a storyline I think it's meant to be very open to interpretation and probably has many different meanings, like George D. DeMet says "When audiences first saw "2001" in the spring of 1968, many were baffled. The film lacked a traditional plot structure, contained almost no dialogue and had an ending that many found confusing." (D. DeMet, George) 
The film starts in a prehistoric time in a canyon-like setting with vast space inhabited by hominid creatures (Figure 1). Kubrick makes great use of perspective filling the screen with foreground, middle ground and background space and there is a monochromatic night time shot using different shades of blue which contrasts effectively against warm setting previously. 

 The scene ends by focusing on one of the apes playing with the bones of a prehistoric corpse (Figure 2); he picks up one and starts smashing it against others whilst the film’s theme tune plays at the moment of his realisation of finding a weapon in which he uses to attack another enemy hominid.  The transition from this beginning of the film to the next section was really well put together. As the ape finally releases the bone-part into the air, the camera follows it as it then cuts into the outer space scene where there is a satellite of similar shape navigating slowly. Within 20 minutes of the film we are at the peak of human evolution.
Whilst the audience watch the futuristic objects floating in space, there is classical music by Johann Strauss playing alongside which gives a sense of peacefulness and grace.

The exterior texture of the spacecraft reminded of a circuit board and once the viewers are introduced to the inside of the spacecraft, they can see how futuristic the interiors are, very white / clinical and the unique shaped red seats stand out against the light walled interior (Figure 3). The ‘too-clean’ looking space and low ceilings that give a cramped and claustrophobic feel might make the audience feel a little uncomfortable – especially at the time of the film’s production as this was a type of world that they were not used to. 
As man hadn't actually been to the moon when this film was made, it was a very accurate portrayal of the moon, surface very open and vast again, very canyon-like and with craters.

In a scene in one of the space cabins there is a very obvious contrast in lighting (complimentary) highlighting the two different compartments the astronauts are in, giving sense of depth / space. Outside of the spacecraft, on the moon’s surface, eerie sound effects are played whilst astronauts are marching down towards the mysterious monolith. The camera is following them directly behind and it’s very intense so that the viewer may feel uneasy. Throughout the film, Kubrick has set up many uncomfortable angles (Dutch angles) which are common in horror genre films so that the audience naturally feels that something is not quite right. He also thought about the robot HAL 9000’s perspective from inside the machine and gave a ‘fish-eye’ lens effect (Figure 5) when looking out from HAL 9000’s point of view on to the other characters (Figure 4).

The use of sound in the film is used very effectively, particularly when one of the main astronaut characters Dave is floating in space and the audience can just hear his very loud, slow and heavy breathing. This represents the total emptiness and silence of space and it makes you feel his fear.

There is strong irony in this film where even though the human race is at it’s absolute peak in evolution and technological development, the astronauts on the journey have to learn to walk again (in the zero-gravity environment), eat food like a baby, and be ‘toilet trained’ (Kubrick2001).

The mysterious appearance of the black monoliths, for me, resemble a similar concept to the remarkable British monument and mystery of Stone Henge in Wiltshire (Figure 6).


Figure 1 - Initial Prehistoric Scene (Accessed 20/10/13)

Figure 2 - Ape Discovering Bone / Weapon (Accessed 20/10/13)

Figure 4 - HAL 9000 Perspective (Accessed 20/10/13)

Figure 5 - Fish Eye Lens Examples (Accessed 20/10/13)

Figure 6 - Stone Henge (Accessed 20/10/13)

D. DeMet, George - The Special Effects of "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Kubrick2001 - The Space Odyssey Explained (Accessed 20/10/13)


  1. Hi Megan,
    Well done - you have put a lot more thought into this review, and have made some interesting observations :)
    Don't forget, the brief asks you to support your review with at least 3 quotes...make sure that the quotes you use are italicised, and referenced directly afterwards with the author's surname and the date, so in your example above you would have, (DeMet, 1999).
    Double-check that you have all the info you need in your bibliography, and notice which bits are supposed to be italicised - look here...

    Just one other thing.... they went to Jupiter, not the moon! :)