Sunday, October 4, 2015

2001: A Grip Shoes Odyssey

The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968, drawn from the mind of the eccentric director Stanley Kubrick. Aside from the long run time, the random giant monoliths, the less than three-hundred words of dialog, the ten minute long continuous shots and of course, the space fetus in orbit... you'd never this movie sprang from the mind of Kubrick. You might actually think it came from a physicist-turned-director who got sick of Hollywood making a mockery of our laws of physics.

The movie opens with human ancestors on Earth a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (minus the last part). The apes are huddled around a puddle of mud (Lets be honest. It's not even a watering hole. It's just a puddle.) and another tribe/pack of apes chases them off. Then the good-guy apes are sitting under a rock feeling sorry for themselves until one of them has the brilliant idea to pick up the femur of an animal. Thus the age of "hitting soft things with hard things in order to make the soft things die" began. (Trust me, that's the actual name of the age.) Supposedly it was the monolith which gave our ancestors the intuition to pick up a bone and swing it at something. It's at around this point that the movie swaps back to what is supposed to be modern-day, or for us, fourteen years ago. This is where the dialog -really- starts to ramp up. I think this was the point where multiple people had an entire conversation. Then we're off to Jupiter with an evil AI who controls everything on the ship including life support. HAL 9000 ends up murdering everyone except the protagonist, who then disables him. Then he is sucked through what seems to be a wormhole and goes on a bad acid trip where he can smell, hear, and taste colors. Then the protagonist appears in a bedroom with his point of view changing every few minutes until he finally sees himself as a dying old man. Then there's a monolith at the bed, and suddenly a giant space fetus. The End.

Most of the physics of 2001: A Space Odyssey are spot on. I'd be hard pressed to find any glaring errors that are bad enough to be laughable. Things like the spinning spaceship to create artificial gravity by creating a normal force equal to that of what you would feel on Earth. It's also fascinating that Kubrick and his crew were able to come up with and implement ideas like orbiting space stations and ships that utilize centripetal force in order to create an artificial gravity. I don't think many people could even comprehend a computer program with human-like thoughts and responses, much less that one could malfunction and kill everyone. Artificial Intelligence isn't something we've mastered yet 47 years after Kubrick created a seemingly perfect one. Perhaps what added the most to the film was the absolute silence in the vacuum of space. There was no horrifying soundtrack as he ejected from the pod. There was absolutely nothing, which I found to be more powerful than anything else that could have been added. It gave the scenes an extremely unsettling and tense feeling, as if you were waiting for something you knew would never come.

Personally, I like the concept of the movie. I just don't like the way Kubrick decided to convey it. The long and drawn out shots of him running, or just.. breathing, the lack of dialog, and the ending just turned me off to the movie. I saw no semblance of a solid plot. I couldn't figure out if there was an actual story. I honestly think HAL 9000 malfunctioning and killing everyone but the protagonist would have made a better movie than monkeys, aliens, and space babies. As it stands, I'm not sure which was the focal point of the movie. HAL, or the aliens/monolith. If it were the latter, HAL malfunctioning seems like a bunch of filler scenes, and if it were the former... I think Kubrick decided to get high and write down whatever popped into his head as an ending.

Last but not least, grip shoes are amazing.