Sunday, 20 October 2013

Film Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey 142min

2001: A Space Odyssey Movie Poster

(Figure 1: 2001: A Space Odyssey Poster)

Directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a British-American science fiction film portraying human evolution. The story deals with many encounters of three sinister 'Monoliths' effecting pathways to an new era; only to be left with an unanswered question to what is to be the ending, or even the beginning of life itself. 

(Figure 2: Ape Discovering The Use Of a Weapon)

From the start of the film, the audience is shown Kubrick's musicality when depicting key scenes. When the primitive ape discovers that he can use a bone as a tool and gains an advantage against his rivals by using it as a weapon, the highlight of the Orchestra by Richard Strauss - 'Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30' lifts for the sense of accomplishment. Another temperament we see changing among these apes is a shift to the hunter rather then gatherer society. In modern life primates are usually seen eating vegetables and various fruits, where as these apes have become accustom to eating fresh meat. 

(Figures 3 & 4: Apes and Humans Gathering)

On the space shuttle, the seating arrangements and postures of the astronauts draw a clear parallel to the way the apes were sitting around the drinking pool, thousands of years earlier. Furthermore, it shows that even from the beginning people have gathered around meals as a social event and since the film is set in the future, Kubrick clearly believes that this is a tradition that will continue into the future.

(Figures 5, 6, 7 & 8: HAL 9000, V.I.K.I, GLaDOS & SKYNET)

During the space voyage to Jupiter tracing a signal from the third 'Monolith', the astronauts are accompanied by an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) known as HAL 9000. HAL has complete control of the spaceship and is responsible for keeping the Cryo hibernated crew alive. This trust can be seen in I,Robot's 'V.I.K.I' (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence). She can interact and manipulate any mechanical object connected to her system including state of the art robots, eventually leading to her oppression of humans, their following revolution and her downfall. HAL's evil intentions have also influenced the games Portal & Portal 2's malicious GLaDOS and SKYNET in the Terminator franchise. Self aware A.I.'s have become one of the most popular antagonists in sci-fi films, with good reason, as we keep relying more and more on machines and computers.

2001: A Space Odyssey

(Figure 9: Jupiter Space craft One-Point Perspective)

Kubrick has focused specifically on one-point perspectives which draws the viewers eyes towards the center of the scene. Quote; ''A major achievement in cinematography and special effects...'' (Variety, s.d) is seen specifically when astronaut Dr. David Bowman is entering the Jupiter space craft entrance, seen in Fig 9. The harsh lines bowing towards the center and the bright lighting make this scene profound in cinematography and effect.

Even before mankind had ever landed on the Moon, Kubrick has shown great imagination on man's activities in space. Quote; ''... this visionary science-fiction tale of space travel and first contact with extraterrestrial life is a spellbinding experience.'' (Wilmington, M. s.d). Undoubtedly, Kubrick has inspired many on science-fiction story telling and film making.

In conclusion, Kubrick had predicted the future many years before the Star Wars or Star Trek series. He had imagined tablet like electronics, video communication and voice recognition just as the future is today. Quote; ''When you examine the film closely, notice how the 'humans' are devoid of feeling. Notice how little acting they really do.'' (Nesbit, A. J. s.d). As modern society shows, we are more so then ever communicating by our computers and mobile phones rather then literal conversations without the use of any electronic device; thus in some way, we could potentially end up like how we had begun, unspeakable, expressionless primates.


Nesbit, A. J. (s.d)

Wilmington, M (s.d) (s.d)

Illustration List:

Figure 1: 2001: A Space Odyssey Poster

Figure 2: Ape Discovering The Use Of a Weapon

Figure 3: Apes Sitting Around The Drinking Pool

Figure 4: Futuristic Space Furniture

Figure 5: HAL 9000

Figure 6: V.I.K.I

Figure 7: SKYNET

Figure 8: GLaDOS

Figure 9: Jupiter Space craft One-Point Perspective


  1. Hi Heidi,

    A very interesting review - well done :)
    Still just a couple of issues to iron out regarding the use of the quotes and the bibliography... when you introduce a quote, don't start it with 'Quote'! You can try and use the author's name to introduce it, for example 'As film critic John Smith says in his review of the film, 'blah blah'.' The name and date in brackets after the quote don't need to be in italics, just the quote itself.
    You still need more information in your bibliography - this is the example and breakdown of an illustration reference for a film still, from the referencing guide...

    Fig. 1. Nylon Fashions. (1959) From: Nylon Fashions, British Pathé. Directed by: unknown. [Film still] Great Britain: British Pathé. At: (Accessed on 20.03.2012).

    Order of Information:

    Figure number: Fig.1.
    Title of image in italics: Nylon Fashions.
    Year of creation in round brackets: (1959)
    From: Title of film in italics: From: Nylon Fashions
    Directed by (if known): Directed by: unknown
    Medium in square brackets: [Film still]
    Place of Production: Great Britain
    Studio or production company: British Pathé
    At: URL (if relevant): At:
    (Accessed on date) if relevant: (Accessed in 20.03.2012)

    And this is the text reference example -

    Giles, J. (2001) A Filmmakers' Guide to Distribution and Exhibition. At: (Accessed on 14.06.09)

    Order of Information:

    Author's surname, first name or intials (or organisation name): Giles, J.
    Year in brackets: (2001)
    Title in italics: A Filmmakers' Guide to Distribution and Exhibition
    At: URL: At:
    (Accessed on date): (Accessed on 14.06.09)

    (It's very annoying that I can't do italics in this comments section, but the order of information section tells you which bits need to be italicised.)