Thursday, 16 October 2014

Film Review - 2001: A Space Oydssey

2001: A space oydssey

This review examines Stanley Kubricks film; 2001: A space oydsse. The film is presented in separate "stages" with the first being the "dawn of man", the second being the jupiter mission and lastly the strange, hallucination like stage.

The exact story of the film is hard to piece together and is open to many interpretations, while the dawn of man segments and jupiter mission follow a linear storyline. "The film, in fact, might be best described as a factual philosophical speculation, rather than as the drama it sets out as but never develops into: and like all good speculations, it leaves the spectator up in the air with a tantalising vision as food for thought." (Milne, 2010). This point seems to demonstrate the nonlinear storyline and how it is ultimately up to the viewer to find meaning or understanding within the story. In agreement with Milne's quote despite the fact that drama is present in the film it is possible that the motion picture is more philosphical in nature, prehaps on the nature of man and his existence.

Figure 1
The strange and unquantifiable coloured swathes in which the viewer, and presumably David Bowman, witness upon contact with the monolith.

A noticeable aspect of the films plot is about humans, particuarly the aspect of human life and aging. During the later stages of the film we see the main character David Bowman coming into contact with an alien monolith, he then witnesses the strange colourful screen of Figure 1 before awakening in an ornate bed chamber watching progressively older versions of himself performing relatively boring tasks like eating and sleeping. This could be a comment on the inevitability of age and how the man is powerless to stop it.

Figure 2
The alien monolith is discovered by the apes during the first segment of the film.

A central aspect of the film are the strange alien "monoliths" present in each stage. The alien Monoliths are mysterious in all aspects; their creators are uknown, their purposed is unknown and their reasons for being are unknown. According to the film the Monoliths emit a strong magnetic field and one particular specimen has been transmitting a strong signal towards Jupiter. The Monoliths are depicted as large, black matte rectangular, domino like objects.

Their effects on humans are equally unknown and their presence could be viewed as either hostile or beneficient. During the course of the film a team inspects a Monolith found on a distant planet and when standing in front of it for a picture are shocked by a violently loud noise causing them to collapse in pain. Yet at the same time when the apes discover the monolith during the first segment of the film they learn to use bones as weapons against a hostile neighbouring ape tribe.

Figure 3
The space bus approaches the orbital space station above earth.

One particularly influential aspect of the film is its scientific accuracy and its portrayal of space travel. "The special effects techniques Kubrick pioneered were further developed by Ridley Scott and George Lucas for films such as Alien and Star Wars. 2001 is particularly notable as one of the few films realistically presenting travel in outer space" (Kazan, 2009). This statements supports the idea that Kubricks portrayal of space travel and the props used in his film were realistic. During the scenes filmed in outer space there is no sound, this is realistic as in outer space there is no medium or atmosphere to transfer sound.

The use of music in the film is also acclaimed, Kubrick wanted the space scenes to be dialogue-free instead relying on soundtrack to convey feeling. The film plays the famous songs; Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Richard Strauss and An Der Schonen blauen Donau by J.Strauss. "the waltz with its musical pap gains a greater aesthetic drama when thrown into the equation of technology in the darker reaches of space. The waltz also acts as "muzak — ‘happy-music’ for space travellers" (Roberte, N/A). As Roberte points out the music is "happy" and suits the soft, floating almost dreamy nature of the space travel depicted in the film. Since the scenes in space have no sound effects or dialogue the music takes precident and delivers an almost daydream like experience to the viewer.

Tom Milne, 2010, space-odyssey-review-science-fiction [ONLINE], Available at: [Accessed 15th October 2014]

Casey Kazan, 2009, ridley-scott-science-fiction-is-dead.html [ONLINE], Available at: [Accessed 16th October]

 Darius Roberte, N/A, 0108.html [ONLINE], Available at: [Accessed 16th October]

Illustration List
 Figure 1
N/A, (1968), 936full-2001-a-space-odyssey-screenshot.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 16th October 2014]

Figure 2
N/A, (1968), 08_monolith-2.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed on 15th October 2014]

Figure 3
N/A, (1968), /2001 - Space Station.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 16th October 2014]


  1. Hi Max,

    Sorry, I seem to have not been following your blog :(
    Anyway, you have written a well thought out review here, but make sure you proofread your pieces before you post have a sentence here that is unfinished -
    'This could be a comment on the inevitability of '

    Also make sure that you italicise the quotes. You have made a good effort in 'unpicking' the quote after you have used it, but it would also be good to introduce the quote, so for example,

    'As Tom Milne states in his review, "The film, in fact, might be best described as a factual philosophical speculation,,," (Milne, 2010)
    It just helps the writing flow better.

    1. Thank you :) yeh, I'll make sure that I proof read next time, good to know that someone has a good eye