Director Dissection with Seanc and Rauldc


Director's Dissection

2001 the first year of the third millennium and the first year of the 21st century
…a year of the future.

Odyssey a long wandering or voyage, either intellectual or spiritual,
which may have many changes of fortune along the way
…a term of the past.



Stanley Kubrick's ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ calls for an epic clash between a compilation of contradicting contrasts and a quest of imposing and intimidating questions, where the grand space of the universe is the only place wide enough for unfolding these elements properly. It is a journey of evolution and revolution where the very solution is up to us…

Opening to the sounds of carefully constructed musical compositions, giving us a callback to the classical era of music, set to the images of the unparalleled natural happenings of space, we are clearly in the world of Kubrick here. When entering the ‘Dawn of Man’ sequence, we once again feel the loving frustration of a Kubrick film; drawing in the audience with a sensual bombardment, securing our attention, before drawing out the plot, seeking our appreciation. Once again, I sense this weird perversion in Kubrick’s work, bewildering our perception by butchering our expectation of what we are about to experience. I’m aware that the film is based on a novel, but there is also a reason why Kubrick wanted to adapt it. After launching his audience into space during the opening credits, he leaves them almost levitating in a meditative state of mind, lingering on earth and the dawn of man. There is also a reason why the ancient term “odyssey” is used in relation to space and the future – while the movie comes in sci-fi packaging, it is essentially the all-embracing odyssey of mankind more than anything.

There have been many suggestions as to what the monolith really means and trying to direct a vague discussion into more determined and definite areas would probably become pointless the deeper you went, because for one, it isn’t specific in itself nor exclusive to one scene or one moment alone. It gains a somewhat thematic momentum for the story in the way that it is introduced and the way that it ignites something or someone within the story. It evolves to become a key element in the story and the different acts of the movie, building thematically in size and in complete synchronization with its towering complexity. The way that it pops up through time and space and between beast, man and higher power it definitely holds something historical to the story, as well as something holy and sacred in an almost religious way, while also becoming about science, the future and evolution itself.

Some big and broad terms here, but essentially you could boil it down to the effect it has on those who encounter it. It may have a broad significance but that very significance is different to whoever might hold it and from there springs the essential element of it – the monolith always seems to trigger a shift in mindset, awareness, psychical or mental acquirement and overall evolution for mankind – all for the sake of advancing intelligent life in one way or the other. It is supposedly alien-related and does different things to different beings, but always as a handy tool of sorts for what one wants to accomplish. The author himself has called it “the alien Swiss Army Knife” and that is actually absurdly agreeable. I would add that it is almost the alien Swiss Army Knife of the conscious mind and thereby the monolith is representing something in physical form, which otherwise has no form. We all learn from experiences, encounters, affiliations, successes, failures and so forth – all of which is something the monolith attempts to encapsulate or represent. Essentially, the monolith magnifies the meaning behind itself for the audience, by appearing in psychical form as a returning reminder of its themes and plot points, ultimately underlining central parts of the story, trying to make a complex film more apparent, more coherent or at least more creative with its complexity… but it sure is complex.

‘2001’ is definitely Kubrick’s most complex and ambiguous film and after ditching the planned narration for the film, it truly embraces the concept of visual storytelling and relies completely on the sensual experience to elevate the hefty themes of the movie. It really is more of a journey for the audience to embark on, rather than the destination they end up in. Of course, the climax completes the journey, but every act is important to the “odyssey of mankind” and the understanding of the evolution of the themes, which is more important than the evolution of the characters, which conversely, is sometimes one and the same. But it isn’t so much about the characters as human beings, as it is about the characters as themes or tools to that same matter, making the evolution for intelligence and intelligent life more clear.

Evident from its title, there are many references to the Greek epic ‘Homer’s Odyssey’ along the way – an obvious one being that of HAL – the artificial antagonist starring back at you with a singular glowing eye, like the Cyclops that Odysseus encounters in the ancient story. For one, there is something truly interesting in seeing HAL using the three artistic proofs, coined by Greek philosopher Aristotle, using both pathos, ethos and logos throughout the film to manipulate our main characters. HAL is of course also the classic confrontation of man and machine, where the man-made intelligent life ends up out-smarting its own makers. The whole thing about man being the creator and man’s creation being the destruction of man is perversely paradoxical. And again, in relation to “the odyssey of mankind”, it might not just be the destruction of man, but the overall extinction of mankind as well, since the film seems to try and cover mankind in its entirety, from the dawn of man, or the birth of humans, to the progression towards its ultimate potential all the way to its eventual demise, which is presented in the climax of the film.

On the whole discussion of birth, many have seen the journey towards the climax to be an allegory of conception and I could definitely see that. Our main character(s) last journey is almost like the seed being planted to the new life that springs from it in the end; complete with sperm-looking spaceship and the “surreal flashing lights” before the birth of another life form. The whole last section of the movie is a sensual overload and I love the way that Kubrick chose to present this part of the story. How our main character is caught in a time warp of sorts and experience his own demise from the sideline, gradually going through a selection of moments from his life, which is shown to us from a POV-shot, making us part of this crazy paradox. Having our entire life flash before our eyes is another element that is played with here and the climax is almost like the spiritual and the scientific colliding with each other – like the big bang of the future of life’s evolution – ending with the “star child” representing the new beginning. And unlike an actual fetus, it has its eyes wide open, looking down on earth, doing so literally and as the superior primary life as well, until finally turning towards us, the audience, doing the very same, by turning cinema itself into its very own monolith, where Kubrick presents the possibilities of the medium and represents the advancement of the intellect within of which he has gained – and the sheer power it holds – and does so in a way that seems to confront us, encourage us and maybe even mock us.

Like the grand turning point of its numeral title and the adding of the ancient expression, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ seems to represent both the beginning and the end, the birth and the death, and a key element to evolution and progression, mostly leaping out of the monolith-aspect of the film. In a way, the monolith can also be dubbed “a reflection”. We can see our own reflection in it, we can reflect on it and overall it speaks to our inner natural reflex of survival and our will to evolve… it absorbs and we can project things onto it… with time, the evolution of life changed into the monolith and with that the monolith revolutionized life itself. The monolith is many things to different beings, so if the monolith is cinema to Kubrick, then the monolith is Kubrick to me... because of the determined dedication and intellectual involvement needed, his movies are light years away from being easy to dissect… but when Kubrick himself throws me a bone, however the size and subtlety of that bone might be, I’m eager to pick it up every single time; even when everything’s up in the air. Why? Because it’s my job to dissect it... my duty… my destiny… my very own odyssey.

Yo guys! Hope you are doing well in your respective lives!

If you didn't hear I finally got an apprenticeship so I can continue educating myself in the film and television business. But don't worry, I won't begin that journey until July 1st I think it was...

I just wanted to get an update in and say I also got a lot of time on my hands this week so I'll give myself the motivation and state that I promise to have Lolita in this week!

If y'all are bored go ahead and watch Barry Lyndon whenever you want and I'll watch that shortly after too.

the samoan lawyer's Avatar
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Yo guys! Hope you are doing well in your respective lives!

If you didn't hear I finally got an apprenticeship so I can continue educating myself in the film and television business. But don't worry, I won't begin that journey until July 1st I think it was...

I just wanted to get an update in and say I also got a lot of time on my hands this week so I'll give myself the motivation and state that I promise to have Lolita in this week!

If y'all are bored go ahead and watch Barry Lyndon whenever you want and I'll watch that shortly after too.

Congrats on the apprenticeship mate. Happy days.

I just finished Lolita. I will post thoughts tomorrow (being a first watch I’ll probably not do a MM-typical review for this one)

I can say so much that this is definitely not my favorite Kubrick. But Kubrick is still Kubrick in some shape or form though, so it’s definitely not bad...

I do find it interesting though, that the Kubrick that I find amazing y’all don’t and the one you might like the best I don’t. It seems to be that we all admire and appreciate Kubrick but like different aspects of the man and his style and approach.

Director's Dissection

Lolita a pubescent girl who dresses either seductively or provocatively.

Appropriately to this, Kubrick himself seems to be a little too early out with this film, though it does seduce and provoke in its own way, but in a rather innocent manner, which is ultimately too sweet and harmless to truly trigger my thoughts and feelings, going one way or the other. And like the titular girl, ‘Lolita’ is a pretty face to look at, but merely seems like a façade hiding a much greater but also more difficult story to tell…

This was my first time being seduced by Kubrick’s controversial tale of confusion, obsession, perversion and of course pedophilia, to some extent… To write a thorough and thoughtful review of a Stanley Kubrick film after only one watch is far from ideal, but I will try my best to gather all my thoughts and feelings into words that makes sense for both me, you and hopefully Kubrick too had he been alive today… this will be my own twisted triangle of reviewing and I hope to win you over with my seductive writing…


Right off the bat, I noticed a change in style and approach by Kubrick. We are definitely discussing an older film here, but even still the atmosphere and everything on display here seems to give off a mature and formal kind of filmmaking, like movies made in the 1940s and early 1950s were filled with. On the surface, this feels like a film of that time and tone. Also, the novel is indeed set in the 40s, however, Kubrick chose not to emphasize on the time of place too much. Anyway, everything about this film seems more straightforward than later-Kubrick and definitely don’t need the same amount of extreme attention to detail to understand the plot and characters, though you will still have to dive into it all completely if you want to catch every little thing there is to find, like symbolism and subtle storytelling, which can add some complexion to the otherwise rather straightforward story.

There is the whole deal about Quilty being shot dead through a portrait of a young female, hinting at both the plot itself and Humbert’s own character arc, as well as the chess game with Charlotte where Humbert utters the words “I take your Queen”, once again throwing in some playful symbolism. I love the Kubrick fingerprint and overall tongue-in-cheek tone of the movie throughout – both within and around the main character, as well as the little things like the all-girls facility playfully dubbed “Camp Climax”. I find all this amusing and even awarding at times, but overall, ‘Lolita’ isn’t the kind of Kubrick I care about the most. Kubrick has adapted a lot of stuff and he rarely fumbles with the material or stumbles even a bit from beginning to end. Often his adaptions are more or at least equal to its source material, when it comes to be being awarding, refreshing, riveting and even groundbreaking.

To me, ‘Lolita’ is missing more of Kubrick’s carefully composed camera shots and moments as well as his personal touch in the technical department. This film doesn’t always call for it, but you can usually always count on Kubrick to surprise you with his handling of material and filmmaking in general. But I mean, even the small things, like a shot of two people talking that doesn’t add up continuity-wise in editing annoys and confuses me, especially when I know about Kubrick’s determination to always bring pin-point perfection. This is a much prettier picture than I expected Kubrick to paint, though I do understand the circumstances of the production at the time. This was not an easy film to make back then and Kubrick himself has talked about the difficulty getting it made and released. He even said, that had he known just how hard it would be, he would have never made the film to begin with. I wish he had though, but I wish it had been on a later time in his career to be honest.

The relationship between Humbert and Lolita, as well as the overall eroticism of the story and the toxic relationships, which all the character have with each other, could definitely had benefitted from a deeper and more determined approach. Once again, Kubrick himself stated that he wished had put more emphasize on these elements, especially that of Humbert and Lolita – and I understand that completely. All this movie is really giving me is a bigger interest in reading the actual novel... Kubrick usually never shies away from slipping a hand upskirt of his unsuspecting audiences or take them out of their comfort zone with his controversy and show his complete dedication to the material and his own artistic freedom. ‘Lolita’ never really surprises me or stimulates my senses the way I seek it with his films and Kubrick never feels as confronting and commanding as he does whenever the director is at his best in my own personal opinion.

Is this a good movie? Yes, it is. For any other director, this might even be a great movie. For me, it might also be a great movie in the future. But a favorite of mine I doubt it will ever be, though I might learn to love it on its own terms. James Mason is very, very good as the main character and he definitely draws me in more than any other actor might have been able to. From what he has to work with, I think he smashes it out of the park. Shelley Winters also did well with her character and Sue Lyon as Lolita was a pretty face that might have needed more work as a character, considering her name is in the title and everything pretty much revolves around her. Peter Sellers is Peter Sellers and is great to watch on screen, but I’m not sure how I feel about his character… or characters. In the end here, I will go back to the beginning to say that indeed, ‘Lolita’ is a pretty one to look at, but merely seems like a façade hiding a much greater but also more difficult story to tell. Personally, this film isn’t pretty enough nor is it provocative enough to really give me the kind of Kubrick that cupid brought us together for in the name of cinema, in the first place...


The best for me are Interstellar and the Dark Knight of Nolan.