Wednesday, 16 October 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey Review

Original Movie Poster (1968)
Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, released in 1968 has been famed for it’s ‘beyond it’s time” visual effects and ambiguous storyline- and since has been the subject of a lot of discussion.  The film is driven by its human paced visuals as apposed to storyline, which is very much open to interpretation. The basis of the film is a journey through human evolution, ending in the remaining human evolving into an ultra god like being. Many people have different interpretations of the film, as Stanley Kubrick famously never discusses his films. The only answer he has given about the ending of the film is a basic synopsis; he said, “he's [Dave] placed in a human zoo approximating a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination.”1.
 The pace of the film, among other aspects, is structured in a thought-provoking manner. The whole film moves slowly so you feel as relaxed in the unnatural environments as the characters. In the scene where Dave is stuck in space, you see and feel every step and moment he is out there, exactly how it would be. The pace allows you to concentrate on the vast visuals and landscapes and the immense silences and blackouts allow you time to reflect on what is happening. Some people have different opinions on the meaning of this- Dolan Reynolds said “Doesn’t the black screen go on for a little too long? That was done intentionally by Kubrick. This is the monolith speaking to the audience themselves which suggest that we’re about to witness a film so grand and so magnificent that it will open up our eyes to things we’ve never even thought possible”2
Considering when the film was made, you cannot fault the visual effects- and this is mainly down to Douglas Trumbull. Trumbull asked Kubrick if he could help on the visuals of his film after Kubrick had contacted the visual effects company he worked for about a short film they had produced called To The Moon and Beyond (1964). Trumbull spent the next couple of years developing a number of methods for the film, most famously- the slit scan method. The slit scan method was used in the famous stargate sequence. The method basically consists of a moving camera with a stationary slit filter and a series of images moving behind (see below).  John P Hess, Film technology expert, explains it better – “Think of it as sort of an advanced method of light painting - except your painting with a slit of light rather than a flashlight and instead of moving the light, you are moving the camera.”3

Slit Scan Method (Still from The History and Science of the Slit Scan effect, 2008)

As green screens had not yet been invented, many other scenes were filmed using small models and revolving mechanisms. Kubrick ordered for all of his sets and props to be destroyed after filming, but replicas have been made since, such as the one below made out of meccano showing how the revolving corridor was filmed.
Meccano machine and view from inside (Still from Meccano 2001 A Space Odyssey special effect explained Nov 2011)
  Kubrick is infamous for his use of one point perspective, and Space Odyssey is no acceptation. The unsettling balance of nature and symmetry gives the impression of the earth having a master plan- almost mathematical. The simplest of scenes are so well composed that it makes you think twice- again making the viewer pause and dwell on simple thinks. The one point perspective gives the impression of always leading of to one point, into the future- off to the end of evolution.

1Stanley Kubrick interview, 1969
2Dan Reynolds, What does the ending of Space Odyssey really mean, Feb 2013 
3John P Hess, The history & science of the slit scan effect, Aug 2013



  1. Hi Livi, a thoughtful review -well done :)

    You just need to get your referencing sorted out now - in the text, you need the author's name and the date directly after the quote, so for example,

    '...we’re about to witness a film so grand and so magnificent that it will open up our eyes to things we’ve never even thought possible' (Reynolds, 2013).

    (Obviously your quote is in italics, but I can't do that in the comments box!)

    Then in your bibliography, you would set it out like this -
    Reynolds, D (2013) What does the ending of Space Odyssey really mean (in italics), At: (Accessed on ...whatever date you accessed it on)

    Have another look at the referencing guide here -

    You also need a separate illustrations list, so label your images Figure 1 etc, and then apply these labels to the list - again, the guide explains how to do this in a step-by-step fashion.

  2. Ahh ok, nearly there ahah! Thanks Jackie

    1. oh yeah - try separating your paragraphs by a line - at the moment, your 'great wall' of text is a bit off-putting to the casual reader...

  3. nearly there indeed, Livi - but content-wise, very satisfying :)

  4. See links!