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DVD Review:  2001 & 2010

Reviewed by: Masse Bloomfield
Title: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Format: 2-Disk Special Edition DVD
Also available on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 2007
Original Movie Date: 1968
Retail Price: $26.98
ASIN: B000UJ48SG
Reviewed by: Masse Bloomfield
Title: 2010: The Year We Make Contact
Director: Peter Hyams
Format: DVD
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: 2000
Original Movie Date: 1984
Retail Price: $14.98
ASIN: B00004VVN8

2001

Note: The 2007 DVD release of 2001 is completely remastered for the best-ever home theater experience. The video is more stunning than ever. The audio is also improved from previous releases, but is still a little flat by today's standards (it was, after all, recorded in the 1960's). The extras include audio commentary by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood (who played the two astronauts in the movie), and five documentaries about the movie totalling 113 minutes. All five documentaries are in 16x9 format for HDTVs.

You have to see this movie. I consider it to be one of the best ten movies ever made. In the beginning section of the novel 2001, author Arthur C. Clarke (who is an NSS Governor) wrote that the movie "has been called one of the most influential moves ever made and almost invariably turns up in the list of the all-time top ten." It made my top ten. If you are a member of the National Space Society and have not seen this movie, you just have to see it. I saw it when it first was shown in movie theaters in 1968 and I still remember parts of the movie vividly today.

The movie was recognized in its own time. It won many awards including an Oscar for Best Effects. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director, for Best Writing and for Best Art Direction.

The screenplay for this movie was produced in an unusual way. In the beginning section of the novel 2001, Clarke writes that in 1964 Stanley Kubrick, a movie producer and director, asked Clarke for an idea to make the "proverbial good science fiction movie." The screenplay for the movie was a cooperative effort between Clarke and Kubrick, and as Clarke says when the movie was in production, the two of them were changing the screenplay as the film was being shot. Clarke writes that "toward the end [the] novel and screenplay were being written simultaneously, with feedback in both directions." The way movies are made, normally the novel is written first and separately, then a screenplay is developed from the novel. It is unusual to produce the novel and screenplay at the same time as in 2001.

As a note, in the novel 2001 the black monolith on the Moon sends a signal in the direction of Saturn. In the following series and in the movies, Saturn is replaced by Jupiter. This change was made because the movie director, Stanley Kubrick, felt it was much simpler to use special effects for Jupiter than for Saturn with its many rings. Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, becomes a main location.

The movie has four distinct parts. The first part begins with man-apes fighting with each other. These man-apes discover a smooth black monolith but they do not have any interaction with it. The music for this part was Thus Spake Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. There are few movies where you remember just what music was played. The music and the action on the screen reinforced each other providing a lasting memory.

I found a review of 2001 written by Roger Ebert in 1997 which echoes my thoughts about the movie and the music. He wrote:

"Alone among science-fiction movies, 2001 is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe. No little part of this effect comes from the music. … [Kubrick] used classical recordings as a temporary track while editing the film and they worked so well that he kept them. This is a crucial decision. … The classical music chosen by Kubrick exists outside the action. It uplifts. It wants to be sublime. It brings a seriousness and transcendence to the visuals … Kubrick's film is almost unique in enhancing the music by its association with his images."

In the second part, Dr. Floyd is sent to the Moon to investigate a monolith found there. There is a segment where Dr. Floyd is on a large rotating space station. The music for this segment was The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss. For music and action to be remembered after all these years demonstrates the powerful emotional effect of the movie. There are so few dramatic movies where the music blends in so closely to the action. 2001 is a powerful viewing experience even on the small screen.

Part Three has two astronauts flying the Discovery space ship to Jupiter under the control of an almost human computer, HAL 9000. The objective is to learn if the transmission of the monolith on the Moon has some meaning at Jupiter. The astronauts find a giant monolith in orbit around Jupiter's moon, Europa. HAL 9000 has problems with the astronauts. HAL is able to kill one by sending him off into space. The second astronaut, David Bowman, barely escapes the same fate. Also, HAL turns off the life support for three astronauts in hibernation. Later, Bowman leaves the Discovery in an extravehicular capsule and "enters" the monolith.

Part Four is one of the most memorably enigmatic sections of a movie ever made. It is comprised mostly of abstract color in expanding linear shapes. The music for this section was not memorable but the images were. The only other movie that compares with 2001 for color and sound is Walt Disney's 1940 Fantasia. Fantasia was a merging of images with classical music, and in the segment of Bach's Toccata and Fugue the images were all abstract (unlike the other segments).

There is no dialogue for Parts One and Four, which means the audience has to supply meaning to what is happening on the screen.

I like Roger Ebert's conclusion also. He wrote:

"The film creates its effects essentially out of visuals and music. It is meditative. It does not cater to us, but wants to inspire us, enlarge us. … Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape. … [The movie] says to us: 'We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh but intelligence.'"

The movie 2001 is such an outstanding work of imagination and such an exceptional use of sight and sound, that it difficult to think of another movie about space or the future that equals its emotional impact.

 

2010

The problem with this movie is that it is necessarily compared to 2001, and it is just not in the same class with the Kubrick movie. The Kubrick movie is an emotional experience. This movie is an exciting space adventure filmed in the same manner as most movies. As a National Space Society member, I think you have to watch this movie because it is one of the few movies about space that is close to the physical facts. Except for the monolith, it follows our knowledge of physics well enough. This movie did receive some Oscar nominations: for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, and Best Sound, but did not win in any of these categories.

The movie 2001 left us with Dave Bowman lost in the Europa monolith, and the space ship Discovery abandoned and drifting in orbit around Europa. 2010 begins with Dr. Floyd (who we met in 2001) on a Soviet-American voyage on the space ship Leonov. In the novel, the Americans and the Russians get along very well. But in the movie, there is a tension with the Soviets and Americans, who are close to a nuclear war over Central America.

Both the Americans and Russians are planning a mission to Discovery. The Russians are far more advanced than the Americans in getting their spacecraft, the Leonov, ready for launch. The mission is to locate the abandoned ship Discovery in orbit around Jupiter's moon, Europa. Because the Discovery, was American, it made sense for the Russians to have Americans on the Leonov to interface with the American spaceship. Once at Discovery, they will board it, obtain as much information as they can relating to the earlier mission, reactivate the Discovery's systems, and locate the monolith.

Along with Dr. Floyd, there is a HAL 9000 computer expert, Dr. Chandra, as well as the Russian spacecraft crew. When they reach the Discovery, Dr. Chandra is able to revive HAL 9000, a human-like computer. Although the crew is apprehensive about the ability of HAL to respond correctly to human commands, HAL comes through.

We learn that the monoliths are a product of aliens who are not identified. The monoliths seem to have the power to either create life and/or accelerate evolution. In 2001, the monolith might have been able to assist the man-apes to greater intelligence.

As the crew of Leonov prepares to leave Europa, Dave Bowman, the astronaut from 2001, appears much like a ghost. He gives Dr. Floyd a message. That message is that Leonov must leave Jupiter within fifteen days. But their launch window only opens in twenty-six days. They come up with a solution. The Leonov attaches itself to the Discovery. Using left over fuel in the Discovery, they have enough fuel to leave Jupiter within the fifteen days. While they are in orbit around Europa, they witness a black spot on Jupiter becoming larger and larger. They are able to discern that the spot is composed of monoliths which are multiplying.

As they are leaving, the monolith sends a message to Earth. It goes: "All these worlds are yours - except Europa. Attempt no landings there."

As they leave Jupiter, the Leonov is wracked by a shock wave. Jupiter has imploded and becomes a star. This means that on Earth there are two suns. The explanation for the need for Jupiter to become a star was that the radiation was needed for Europa to have a favorable climate for living things and allow for those living things to evolve.

This movie is a space adventure film with plenty of special effects. It covers the flight of the Leonov to Europa and finally to the flight from Europa. The monoliths continue on in their supposed purpose to enhance living things in the Solar System.

© 2008 Masse Bloomfield

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Updated Sun, Apr 24, 2011 at 02:56:44
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