If 2001 is your #1 movie, tell me why

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We bring our own humanity to 2001. It is a film that is meant to both humble and inspire it, but not create a surrogate for it on screen. To have the human character in anyway not be dwarfed by the character of Hal, would undermine the films intent. It also would limit the sprawl of the film, by linking it to a single man lost in wonder over his experience. He is a robot, a slave to the technology he has created.The movie is about the universe. And technology. And us. It's not really about Dave, which is why he is almost scrubbed entirely clean of a personality.


Also, the Penderecki score used in 2001 is about as perfect as anything can get, when it comes to music in film. As is the Blue Danube. I don't see why it has to be original, like, at all. Did Kubrick need to also invent the camera used to shoot the film for him to retain authorial control? Did he have to style Keir Dulea's hair? Kubrick's choice of using those already existing bits of music was his artistic decision. How he applied them to his images, and how well they work along side of it, proof of its success. Appropriation is a huge part of the artistic process. Having to create everything from scratch is a bit of a unfounded and romantic expectation for artists to live up to.



I feel like the arguments for 2001 as the great film of all time are essentially identical to the arguments against that position: it produces a response with the medium itself.

Cinema is powerful, and can manipulate you in absurd ways. If a film shows us two people chatting over coffee, it's unremarkable. But all add some vibrating strings and suddenly we're wondering if there's a bomb under the table, or if someone's about to walk through the door and pull a gun on one of them. Take someone talking with some pleasant, upbeat music in the background, and then take the same monologue, cut the music, and slowly start to pan in on them, and suddenly you've created poignancy out of thin air. Or have you? Have you just done something profound, creating those emotions ex nihilio, or have you done something cheap and empty?

Here's another way of looking at it: how do we value a film that is missing something if it WANTS to be missing that thing specifically to show it doesn't need it? If someone runs a marathon on one leg, is that stupid, or impressive, or both? On one hand (heh), they could be better/faster if they used both, and there's nothing to stop them from doing so. On the other, it is undeniably impressive for them to create an artificial limitation to overcome.

I can't really answer these questions, but they're the questions I think 2001 (and some other challenging films) are posing, albeit indirectly.



If you're watching 2001 right now and also reading MoFo you're not focusing your full attention on the movie...and 2001 is a movie that needs full uninterrupted attention.
Agreed.



I feel like the arguments for 2001 as the great film of all time are essentially identical to the arguments against that position: it produces a response with the medium itself.

Cinema is powerful, and can manipulate you in absurd ways. If a film shows us two people chatting over coffee, it's unremarkable. But all add some vibrating strings and suddenly we're wondering if there's a bomb under the table, or if someone's about to walk through the door and pull a gun on one of them. Take someone talking with some pleasant, upbeat music in the background, and then take the same monologue, cut the music, and slowly start to pan in on them, and suddenly you've created poignancy out of thin air. Or have you? Have you just done something profound, creating those emotions ex nihilio, or have you done something cheap and empty?

Here's another way of looking at it: how do we value a film that is missing something if it WANTS to be missing that thing specifically to show it doesn't need it? If someone runs a marathon on one leg, is that stupid, or impressive, or both? On one hand (heh), they could be better/faster if they used both, and there's nothing to stop them from doing so. On the other, it is undeniably impressive for them to create an artificial limitation to overcome.

I can't really answer these questions, but they're the questions I think 2001 (and some other challenging films) are posing, albeit indirectly.

I have a way of judging pretty much everything: what is the goal, and does it achieve that goal without sacrificing the quality of the art form? This can apply to anything: books, movies, albums, even foods. When applying this to 2001, it willingly sacrifices humanity for the sake of its message, but loses the personal connection of films like Paths of Glory, A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket. Intentionally flat characters are still flat characters. When your watching flat characters when the movie isn't going off an doing it's thing, your essentially watching blank slates with no mystery unlike the monoliths which are all about mystery. There are many moments involving humans not interacting with HAL, and we get simple little things like family phone calls and lifeless meetings.



[If 2001 is your #1 movie, tell me why]
...I've seen it once years ago and I liked it a lot because visually and thematically it's way better than other movies of its time. But #1? It's a little too slow and needs more of a personal touch. But if it's your #1 please explain in case I missed something.

Btw, some notes: My number 1 is The Godfather, my favorite Kubrick film is Full Metal Jacket, and I like artsy sci-fi so bear in mind my favorite movie of this specific genre is Solaris (1972)...
Keyser...here's my take: People like/want different things in movies. A lot of people like action/excitement and 2001 doesn't have much of that. So if that's what a person wants then 2001 might seem boring. In fact it is boring and it's not boring. It just depends on what one wants.

I had 2001 on my ballot and for me its strength is in its visuals that make space travel look so real. Another strength is its score that gives the film a level of class with the use of classical music. But it's the utter slowness of the film and even its boringness [sic] which drives home the vastness and utter loneliness of deep space.

Many would also say it's the existential/spiritual ending of the film, though to be honest that didn't really fire my imagination like it does for some. On the other hand I thought HAL was way cool! But the mean monkey people kinda blew



The thing isolated becomes incomprehensible
If you're watching 2001 right now and also reading MoFo you're not focusing your full attention on the movie...and 2001 is a movie that needs full uninterrupted attention.
This. If you are watching 2001 with breaks every 15 minutes, you already lost the essential of the film.

2001 is not a movie simply about keeping track of plot points. It's an immersive experience, one that you are meant to lose your sense of self in. This is one of the main reasons its pacing is comparatively slow to other movies. But it's not too slow for what it is trying to accomplish, which is create a sense of Infinite space and make us aware of our own relationship to passing time.


And, yes, it is one of the only movies ever made truly and unequivocally deserving of being labeled as the greatest of all time.
This.

We bring our own humanity to 2001. It is a film that is meant to both humble and inspire it, but not create a surrogate for it on screen. To have the human character in anyway not be dwarfed by the character of Hal, would undermine the films intent. It also would limit the sprawl of the film, by linking it to a single man lost in wonder over his experience. He is a robot, a slave to the technology he has created.The movie is about the universe. And technology. And us. It's not really about Dave, which is why he is almost scrubbed entirely clean of a personality.


Also, the Penderecki score used in 2001 is about as perfect as anything can get, when it comes to music in film. As is the Blue Danube. I don't see why it has to be original, like, at all. Did Kubrick need to also invent the camera used to shoot the film for him to retain authorial control? Did he have to style Keir Dulea's hair? Kubrick's choice of using those already existing bits of music was his artistic decision. How he applied them to his images, and how well they work along side of it, proof of its success. Appropriation is a huge part of the artistic process. Having to create everything from scratch is a bit of a unfounded and romantic expectation for artists to live up to.
And this, except it's Ligeti, not Penderecki.



Keyser...here's my take: People like/want different things in movies. A lot of people like action/excitement and 2001 doesn't have much of that. So if that's what a person wants then 2001 might seem boring. In fact it is boring and it's not boring. It just depends on what one wants.

I had 2001 on my ballot and for me its strength is in its visuals that make space travel look so real. Another strength is its score that gives the film a level of class with the use of classical music. But it's the utter slowness of the film and even its boringness [sic] which drives home the vastness and utter loneliness of deep space.

Many would also say it's the existential/spiritual ending of the film, though to be honest that didn't really fire my imagination like it does for some. On the other hand I thought HAL was way cool! But the mean monkey people kinda blew

Don't get me wrong. I don't need every movie to be an action movie, and I love artistic films. I live with a guy who loathes that movie, though, and I don't really agree with him on any take other than the movie doesn't deserve to be so high on a chart like this. The thematic expression, music, direction and visuals are all well done. I repeat, my favorite movie of this type is Solaris (and there was a time that The Mirror was in my top ten).




And this, except it's Ligeti, not Penderecki.

Ah. And one of the rare times I bothered to google check my fact before I posted. His name popped up along side of the movie title as I began typing it in, so I thought 'all good'. But nope. Not all good.



From now on, I'll just let myself be wrong on my own instincts



Don't get me wrong. I don't need every movie to be an action movie, and I love artistic films.
Yup, I knew that's what you meant, I had seen where you said that you liked Solaris (so do I). I'm just saying if a person really loves thrillers and action films, then 2001 can seem boring...

Hell I think 2001 is 'boring' but I also think it's great. I'd only watch it if I was in the mood for a longer, slower reflective movie, and on any given night I wouldn't be in the mood for 2001.



minds his own damn business
Also, the Penderecki score used in 2001 is about as perfect as anything can get, when it comes to music in film.
You may be thinking of Ligeti here. I don't think Penderecki was used in 2001 although he was used extensively in The Shining.

edit: too late for neiba!
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minds his own damn business
I repeat, my favorite movie of this type is Solaris
The monolith isn't very different than the mind-ocean of Solaris. And in a lot of ways, Kris' transformation is quite similar.



Registered User
This is heresy, but the first act isn't really necessary for me. For me the film starts in space.



minds his own damn business
Stand back! I will explain.


The Discovery One is a phallus. The EVA pod is a spermatozoa. Dave is the DNA of human experience. HAL is a failed prophylactic. The "Infinite Beyond" is an enveloping womb. The Star Child is a cosmic conception as unintelligible to the human mind as a computer would be to a neanderthal.



You may be thinking of Ligeti here. I don't think Penderecki was used in 2001 although he was used extensively in The Shining.

edit: too late for neiba!

That's why his name was in my head! I was looking up The Shining score just a little while ago, for some reason or another



This is heresy, but the first act isn't really necessary for me. For me the film starts in space.
Totally disagree. The first act sets most of the themes that will be developed and explored in the next ones. Whether it's the evolution/change in mankind, the constant need of exploration, and the discovery and use of tools and technology for good or bad purposes.
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Totally disagree. The first act sets most of the themes that will be developed and explored in the next ones. Whether it's the evolution/change in mankind, the constant need of exploration, and the discovery and use of tools and technology for good or bad purposes.

It's also important to create a contrast between where we came from to where we are going as a civilization. I don't see how it wouldn't feel incomplete if we just move from space, to more infinite space. We need to see us banging some rocks together in the dirt. Otherwise, there'd be no proper sense of scale.



Registered User
Totally disagree. The first act sets most of the themes that will be developed and explored in the next ones. Whether it's the evolution/change in mankind, the constant need of exploration, and the discovery and use of tools and technology for good or bad purposes.
2001 rather robs the human race of their evolutionary development. A monolith appears and intelligent design makes humans into tool-users. Arthur C. Clarke was a Science Fiction guy, so his vision of humanity was that of homo technologicus. Clarke was visionary for future tech (e.g,. predicting geo-sync satellites and gravity assist maneuvering). He thought in terms of the transformative power of tech. And in 2001 what "makes" us is our technology and what made us pick up that bone was an alien race. If humans are Clarke's homo technologicus, then aliens created man.

I have seen the film and read the book and believe that I sufficiently "get" it, so there is really no need (again merely speaking of personal preference) on subsequent viewings to hang out for the first act (my regards to the "apes" in sneakers).

One thing that bards in oral traditions (homo narrans) used to do with popular tales was to truncate them for re-telling, cutting out material, making use of the audience's familiarity with the material, doing "jump cuts" to engage them in new ways. Film is unfortunate in that it leaves us with a frozen icon. More often it is more timely than timeless and our re-tellings are warmed over remakes and Director's Cuts. The latter almost always jam more stuff into the film (its a cash grab and viewers demand MORE content to see more of the world, not less), rather than leave us with less. In effect, it is only those brave souls doing fan edits who do this work--and how many of them are regarded as heretics, profaning sacred works?



The first act in 2001 with the monkey people is too long. The second part of the second act when they arrive on the moon is way too short. That section was more detailed in the book. The journey through the obelisk with all those colored lights is too long and is that length so acid tripping hippies could have a good 'trip' when they watched the film back in 1968. Still a 5/5 movie though.



The monolith isn't very different than the mind-ocean of Solaris. And in a lot of ways, Kris' transformation is quite similar.

Yeah, but I think Solaris uses its three-hour time better than 2001 does its two-and-a-half hour time.



I'm sure no end of people who've seen Solaris, would come in and say that the 8 minute long car trip, or the many minutes devoted to lingering on foliage and water weeds at the beginning of the film, could be trimmed. And of course they could, but it would change the impact of how those opening scenes work on the audience. How they feel about the earth he is leaving. How (intentionally or not) that car trip is like a humorously urban inverse of 2001's Stargate. It would also fundamentally change the just general tactile sense of Tarkovsky's style.



Kubrick's approach is similarly contemplative. It needs its space to be meditative, and by space, not simply going a few beats past what one expects. We need to be aware of time passing. This is integral to the films unique approach to science fiction and space travel. Of course we could nip and tuck it, so it's all nice and trim around the narrative beats. But for what purpose? To make it like other movies? To suit the whims of a casual viewing? All at the expense of making it less of a Kubrick film? Nah. Crazy talk, I say.