2001 Space Odyssey
“2001″ is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon’s surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and human (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.
New York postal worker Jacob Singer is trying to keep his frayed life from unraveling. His days are increasingly being invaded by flashbacks to his first marriage, his now-dead son, and his tour of duty in Vietnam. Athough his new wife tries to help Jacob keep his grip on sanity, the line between reality and delusion is steadily growing more and more uncertain.
“I’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God… the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.”
Did it ever happen in your life that you’ve seen such a beautiful movie, such a perfect piece of art, such an unbelievable example of man-made splendor, such a gorgeous masterpiece that it hurt your eyes? Well, I did. And it wasn’t the Schindler’s List or the Lord of the Rings. No, it was the BEST action movie ever made. The BEST interpretation of the Governator. The BEST explosions. The BEST one-liners. The BEST plot. And the BEST tag-line. This movie is like the Art of Japanese gardening. Simple and beautiful. Balanced. Proportioned. There’s just the right amount of everything. And there is just about everything that should go into an action movie: car chases, explosions, drug-lords, sex, an invincible hero, sitting-duck-like enemies, humor, knife duels, fist fights, rocket launchers, blood, death, bullets, glass, pectorals, muscles, some more muscles, explosions and more explosions. You need more? It’s got Arnold. Need more? It’s got Arnold with a sense of humor. Still more? It’s got Arnold with a sense of humor and a rocket launcher. Put these three elements together and try to guess what happens. Destruction. On a mass scale. I won’t give away the plot, because it is too intricate and surprising. Basically it is Arnie on a mission to save his daughter. That’s about it. But what is important is not the fact that Arnie will save his daughter, but HOW will he save his daughter. Oh, are you saying that The Matrix is the best action movie of all time? Does The Matrix have Arnold Schwarzenegger? NO. Does Commando have the Matrix? YES. JOHN MATRIX, in fact. Oh, so you are saying that Neo dodges bullets? John Matrix doesn’t need to. He is bulletproof. He eats bullets for breakfast. Need more proof? I thought so… I gave this Caravaggio painted on celluloid a 10 only because IMDb doesn’t go to 11. This movie is so eye-blindingly beautiful I can’t find the words to properly end my commentary and render justice to this cinematic masterpiece. So I will just use the movie’s tag-line: Somewhere… somehow… someone’s going to pay!
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
Filming title sequence
The helicopter and camera rig used to film the title sequence, in which we follow Jack Torrance’s yellow Volkswagen on its way to the Overlook Hotel. The 2nd Unit crew had permission to film in Montana’s Glacier National Park, but they were not allowed to land in the park except in an emergency. As such, they would often have to hover just a foot or two off the ground so that 2nd Unit Director Greg MacGillivray (who was also driving the Volkswagen) could check the cameras and clean the lenses, which would become encrusted with squashed bugs.
The Torrance Family
The helicopter footage shot for the title sequence was originally intended to be used only for that sequence. For the later sequence where Jack Torrance returns to The Overlook with Wendy and Danny, Kubrick had originally planned to use a series of ground-based shots showing the yellow Volkswagen towing a small trailer with the family’s possessions. Those shots were filmed by the 2nd unit crew, but during the editing process, Kubrick decided not to use them. He instead made use of more of the footage that had been shot for the title sequence. Many have speculated as to how the Torrance family could have possibly brought all the luggage shown in the hotel’s lobby when they arrive. This explanation answers that question. 2nd Unit camera operator Jeff Blyth, Jeff’s wife, and their camera assistant doubling for the Torrance family in many unused shots of the car and wearing costumes from the film. Note their “Tony” finger poses.
This is one of those very rare films that combines good black humor with bloody, messy gore and does it perfectly. Long before `28 Days Later’ appeared, `Return of the Living Dead’ presented us with FAST zombies, zombies who could run, jump and work together like a football team, tackling people and making it a group effort to tear their victims apart. There are very few slow, shuffling monsters here; these are zombies to contend with. They talk, they think, they problem solve. Who could ever forget the Tar Man (my personal favorite) rigging up a device to tear down the metal closet doors, behind which our heroine has locked herself?
This film never lets up, not for one minute. There are no long explanation scenes, no boring set-up, just in-your-face excitement from the very first scene. It is the perfect homage to the Romero films; there is no happy ending here, only an ironic twist which will make even the most cynical doomsayer grin. This film is already a cult classic and deserves its status. It’s as close to flawless as you can get.