Monday, March 22, 2010

2001: A Space Odyssey, the film

Watching a film more than 40 years after its first release should have given a sense of passing time. But the Stanley Kubrick-directed film based on Arthur C Clarke's book, "2001: A Space Odyssey" remains defiantly novel, contemporary and futuristic. Not George Lucas' "Star Wars" sequels and prequels, not Wachowski brothers' "Matrix" films which pretend to be philosophical meditations but which degenerate into pseudo-intellectual tripe seem to have the tautness of "2001".
The mystery lies in HAL 9000, the computer with intimations of consciousness which has a role in the film and in the story.It outwits human beings which want to 'disconnect' it and kill it off. It is this conflict and confrontation between man and machine that gives the film its eerie sense. Unlike in the other films mentioned here, it is not romantic humans battling evil machines. There is a genuine moral dilemma as HAL 9000 asks questions and seeks answers for human dilemmas and second thoughts. And this existential battle is played out far away from earth, in the cold and remote darkness of the solar system from where earth, the blue planet is but a glimmering object.
The camera relentlessly looks at the vast spaces interspersed with planets, arcs, colourful vapours and the whoosh of the moving spaceship as it ploughs through the ocean of invisible particles. The film could have remained a beautiful cinemascape but the dark battle played out inside the spaceship adds a tragic note.

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