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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> January 1999 >> 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
January 1999
IMDB Name:
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick
MPAA Rating:


If any characteristic defines this movie, it would have to be understatement. While co-writer Arthur C. Clarke spelled out the events in great detail, director Stanley Kubrick chose to simplify everything. I was glad to have read the book so I would be prepared for some of the things that go unmentioned. The direct cut from the Tycho monolith scene to Discovery's journey to Jupiter is a prime example.

The dialogue in the movie is sparse at best. Some of it is even intentionally covered up. The dialogue is only present where dialogue would happen in real life, instead of just when a lesser movie would dictate. While this may cut down on the aural excitement a bit, it does lend additional weight to everything that is said.

Kubrick discarded the Alex North score and used classics instead. This gave him the power to keep the soundtrack silent where appropriate. The eerieness of the long stretches of silence is stunning, and I'll wager that the score would've tried to bolster the already copious tension and instead diminished it.

New Cues for Scary Villains

Was a stationary object ever as menacing as HAL? WarGames had WOPR some fifteen years later, but they always made it zippy by having blinkenlights and camera motion. HAL's many eyepieces, subtly tucked away throughout Discovery, inspire paranoia both through their constant presence, and the the mystery that lies behind them. The performance by Douglas Rain is just mechanical enough to not sound human, but with just enough inflection to inspire fear.

Technical Genius

All hail the amazing sets! The circular Discovery set is particularly nifty. Watching Gary Lockwood jog around the loop from moving and stable perspectives is especially impressive. Bowman's forced entry into the ship is also spectacular.

DVD Comments

The DVD for 2001 offers English and French audio and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. All are named in their own language in the Language menu. There is a trailer each for 2001 and 2010, both presented in their original widescreen format. There is also a twenty minute "interview" with Arthur C. Clarke. It looks to be a dinner celebrating the then-pending release of the film with an MGM executive present. After delivering a summary explanation of what he and Kubrick hoped to accomplish with the movie, Clarke fields a few questions about the politics and science of space and aliens. The audio for the interview is mastered very quietly, and the comparative noise level of the menus is shocking if the volume isn't reduced before returning to the main menu.

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Copyright 1999-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.