Posted by: Mark | November 29, 2014

2001 in 2014

For the first time since the late 80s, I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. A couple things struck me:

Pacing: I’ve watched a lot of D.W. Griffith and other silent films but I was surprised how slow 2001 started off. Other than a couple of patches of dialogue and action, the pacing was deliberately glacier-esque. Many films and shows do this to showcase special effects (Star Trek, especially the first movie, was terrible with this). In action movies these slow downs are tedious but in 2001 the pacing works out. Like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes, you can’t shortchange this technique. As Mel Brooks said, “If you’re going to go up to a bell, ring it or don’t go to the bell.”

The monkey men: Most of the space effects hold up but the ape men at the beginning didn’t work for me. At the time, Colin Arthur’s make-up was considered top notch but ape faces are hard to pull off. Rick Baker’s work only a matter of years after this one set the bar for apes in movies and CGI creates a whole different level. I saw some people even today ask if Kubrick used real apes (he did use two baby chimps) so maybe working at the zoo ruined monkey movies for me.

The ending: I would have had no understanding of the end if I hadn’t have read the book and read the Mad Magazine parody first. It’s visually incredible but I get where confused critics are coming from.

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