Sunday, February 12, 2006

Open the Pod Bay Door, HAL

Every once in a while a trauma call night is quieter than usual. It's an unexpected treat, though one that usually leaves me sleeping fitfully and checking both the clock and my pager with every noise in the night. Last night was just such a night, and when I finally made my way to the call room I decided to see what was on TV -- news (not much new), Olympic coverage (not in the mood), NBA basketball (yuk). However, I did find that TCM was broadcasting, without interruption, one of my top 5 favorite flicks.
While one can say that this movie has a few too many psychedelic flairs at the end, and it leaves many an idea dangling, one cannot state that this film is anything other than sensational and groundbreaking. I had not seen it in more than 15 years, and several things struck me upon a fresh viewing.

  1. The film is so measured and paced that today's audiences might be turned off; but, that slowness allows one time to absorb what is shown --- including the hard to comprehend vastness of space.
  2. The visuals remain crisp and arresting, even better than I remembered; George Lucas owes much of his success to what Stanley Kubrik created.
  3. As I have gotten older, I was much more drawn in to the images at the end, of man facing his own progressive aging and death, than when I saw the film years ago with much younger eyes.
  4. The music, especially The Blue Danube, is a wonderful complement to the film.
There remains much left to the imagination in this piece of work, much like as with a painting or poem. As Kubrick himself remarked:
"You are free to speculate, as you wish, about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of "2001.""
This movie holds a certain charm for me, one of the few that withstand repeated viewings. I can only say that about the others in my "top 5" - Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, & Jean de Florette and its companion piece Manon des Sources. I would include Out of Africa as well, though the last time I viewed it, the Robert Redford character seemed to me to be such an arrogant and selfish SOB it was hard to watch.

To get one person's idea of what "2001: A Space Odyssey" means, check out this site (works only with Internet Explorer). For the "Lego" version, go here for a chuckle.