Picture this: It’s 1968, I’m Stanley Kubrik and I’ve got the grooviest of ideas. I’m gonna make a movie about space, man. Man hasn’t even landed on the moon yet, man, but I’m gonna do it.
And I’m gonna start this movie… about space… with the dawn of man…
Just to make matters even more confusing, I’m gonna assemble a rabble of actors in questionable monkey costumes and get them to dance around a giant iPad.
Because it’s the sixties and they hand LSD around at parties like it’s going out of fashion.
Which it kinda is.
I found this movie almost unbearable at times. This probably had something to do with my issues with sci-fi/fantasy films, but surely I can lay at least some of the blame on the self-indulgent director? When it takes your film about space 30 minutes to even mention the topic of space, you need editing lessons. Sure, I appreciate the ‘Planet-of-the-Apes’ themes, but ‘Planet of the Apes’ did it much better the very same year.
What the film does do well, in a George Orwell 1983 sort of way, is accurately predict the future. It features ideas such as voice print identification and “skyping”, not to mention traipsing about on the moon (which, at that stage, was still a year away from happening for the first time). If these trends continue… Next stop? A mission to Jupiter in short shorts!
What the film doesn’t do well, however, is hold my interest. I watched the whole thing. In fact, I was held in captive audience on the plane on my way to India. I’ve even watched parts of it twice, after first attempting to watch it at my Brother and Sister-in-Law’s house a few months ago (although I confess I fast-forwarded through the monkeys the second time). Despite all this I still have no idea what the movie was on about!
I turned to imdb to help decipher the mystery:
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.
That’s pretty much what I took from the movie too, but it still doesn’t make sense.
Dr Floyd: Is there anything else special that you would like for your birthday?
Floyd’s Daughter: A bush baby.
Dr Floyd: A bush baby? Well, we’ll have to see about that.
Let me break it down for you: A bunch of monkeys find a giant iPad and beat each other to death. Suddenly, we’re launched into space, where there is a mission to somewhere for something. There are a couple of seriously groovy dudes getting about in short shorts, and a sixties-style “air hostess” walking around upside down for no apparent reason. Controlling the whole thing is ‘HAL’, a sophisticated autopilot with a creepy “heavy-breathing mystery caller” voice, with a penchant for awkward silences and staring into souls. Hal chucks a wobbly, Officer Ripley and the rest of the Matrix crew get their plugs pulled, and next thing you know we’re transported to a highly “futuristic” space-home complete with brocade bedspreads and another giant iPad.
I’m sure the special effects were impressive for their time, and I’m sure that if you gave it the kind of mental energy that Citizen Kane required, you’d probably enjoy it. Personally, I’ve got a thousand and one other things I’d prefer to be doing than sitting down for 3 hours in a moody, eerily-silent state and pondering the evolution of the human race.
Someone give me an animal bone so I can bonk Kubrik on the head with it.
Have you seen ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.