Is 2001: A Space Odyssey overrated for todays standards?

Author: Reece101 ,

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  • Reece101
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    I think so. 
    I’m sure the visuals were breathtaking back in 1968.
    But come on, I don’t need half an hour to contemplate the opening scene. 
  • oromagi
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    I think so. 
    I consider "2001: A Space Odyssey" a masterpiece.  In the absence of any important physical  American monument dedicated to the first moon landing, I consider Kubrik's movie that monument in celluloid alternative.

    Critics have always complained about the pacing of the film but I think the long deep quiet shots are incredibly effective at building up the grandeur and gravitas of monument while at the same time informing the the tension and isolation of the horror (2001: A Space Odyssey is essentially a horror movie).

    I’m sure the visuals were breathtaking back in 1968.
    Great visual moments don't change over time.  The expectations and attention spans of viewers do.

    But come on, I don’t need half an hour to contemplate the opening scene. 
    The opening scene is 60 seconds.  The visual of the sun rising over the moon, the Earth seen from space is set to Thus Spake Zarathustra and deliberately evokes creation, the Logos of "In the beginning was the word." 

    Remember that the movie was made just  before the moonshot.  This was what a shot of what science fiction thought it would like from the Moon, not a replication after we'd been there.  Keep in mind that that particular piece of music was not well known before its use in the movie.  The impact of that shot is such that Elvis Presley started using the same music for his on stage introductions.  If everybody is familiar today  with that epic tone poem and its interpretation it is down to impact of this movie and this opening shot.

    I would love to do a 2001 Space Odyssey debate and happily defend this film as one of the greatest.
  • Lemming
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    Some films are iconic.

  • Reece101
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    It’s been years since I’ve seen it. I thought it was the ancestral apes bit surrounding the artefact. I’m pretty sure it’s the second scene then.
  • SirAnonymous
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    I would say that is extremely overrated. Quite honestly, in terms of movie-making, it's one of the worst I've seen. What little plot there is is continually interrupted by ten minute shots of props moving really slowly, high-pitch, ear-piercing squeals that go on for at least 60 seconds, bizarre colored lines that supposedly represent a wormhole (or something), really loud breathing, and on and on. The actors had every ounce of emotion sucked out of them. The murderous computer was the best character, in addition to being the only worthwhile part of the film, in my opinion. Yes, the special effects were good. Stunning visuals aren't enough to make a good movie. Without having read the book, the plot was all but incomprehensible. 

    That being said, the movie wasn't entirely bad. The visuals were genuinely stunning. At least, some of them were. The men in ape suits and the random colored lines left much to be desired. The spaceships were cool and surprisingly realistic. The idea of a rogue AI was good. However, without good characters and with the one good story idea relegated to a subplot that took up maybe a quarter or a third of the movie, it was just painfully boring. It's considered a classic, but it's more like an emperor with no clothes. If I wanted realistic visuals, music, and a few interesting ideas surrounded by an overwhelming mass of boredom, I'd watch a lecture given in a monotone with classical music playing in the background. That would me significantly more interesting.

    Ok, yes, I'm a "hater" so far as this movie is concerned. But, really? A movie that is 75% watching props and special effects move to background music and 25% painfully slow action in which the only interesting character is a homicidal computer? I don't understand why anyone likes it.
  • oromagi
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    Kubric, of course, is rather famous for rendering his works in deep ambiguity.  He doesn't explain what is happening because he wants viewers to bring their own bias to the table.  The fact that many people interpret the movie's future as apocalyptic while others interpret the epilogue as humanity's advent and that those opposite interpretations are supported by the work serves as one mark of masterpiece.  I am a believer in show, don't tell in all artistic endeavors and I enjoy a movie that makes me come to the work rather than laying itself out carefully for my approval. 

    I disagree that the plot is difficult.  In truth, I consider the plot fairly straightforward:

    • ACT I:  An alien artifact inspires a desperate troop of primates to use the first tool.
    • ACT II:  One million years later another alien artifact is discovered on the Moon, sending a signal towards Jupiter
    • ACT III: 18 months later, 5 astronauts travelling to Jupiter experience catastrophic computer failure.  One pilot survives to discover that their primary objective is actually to investigate another alien artifact in orbit.
    • EPILOGUE:  Approaching the artifact, the pilot disappears beyond some frontier surpassing human understanding of time and space.  The final shot is the pilot as embryo, beholding the earth with new eyes.
    It is not the plot that is difficult but the interpretation.  Are the aliens well intentioned?  Are tools and technology considered good or bad?  Are humans up to the challenge of this new frontier?  Beautifully, each viewer's interpretation of the narrative informs the choices before us,- future possibilities informed by present decision-making, making the movie a tribute to science-fiction itself.