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2001 Space Odyssey

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2001 Space Odyssey

According to Ingmar Bergman, “No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls” (www.bartleby.com). Perhaps this is why, nearly forty years after its creation, Stanley Kubrick’s film, “2001: A Space Odyssey” continues to be hailed as one of the best films of all time. At first, this seemingly simplistic film, with minimal dialogue and a painstakingly slow pace, has the ability to frustrate, annoy, and confuse even the most curious of viewers. Upon closer inspection, however, confusion gives way to enlightenment as viewers begin to see beyond the so-called irritants of the direction and script, finally realizing the profound mastery of filmmaking they represent.

Anyone can quickly flash images on a screen, include some rapid-paced background music for flair, and hire actors to regurgitate line after line of pointless dialogue revealing every detail of a story so an audience never has to think. With this in mind, Kubrick and Clarke seem to have made a conscious effort to diverge from the film travesty of their fellow screenwriters and filmmakers. They deliberately created dialogue that was sparse, merely alluding to what was transpiring within the film instead of saying it outright. In effect, this allowed viewers to use their own imaginations to fill in the pieces of the puzzle merely outlined before them.

Through the use of brilliant editing, Kubrick also used images to subtly convey what was occurring where other filmmakers would have merely written dialogue to emphasize it. A perfect example of this is the scene in which the Discovery astronauts lock themselves in a soundproof pod so they may discuss the future of H.A.L., the onboard computer. By using repetitive camera pans from the quick-moving lips of the astronauts through the pod’s window to the red all-seeing eye of H.A.L., viewers quickly figure out what is transpiring. Kubrick and Clarke did not need to have a narrator say, “in a demonstration of his extreme artificial intelligence, H.A.L. read

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