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A look back at THE SciFi space movie
May 19, 2005 7:44 AM   Subscribe

At a time such as this, it is important to remember what true Sci-Fi moviemaking talent LOOKS like. "When [studio] bosses finally got to see what they'd put their money into . . . they couldn't figure out if they were looking at the biggest disaster in [studio] history or at one of the greatest movies ever made." The year was 1968, one year prior to man's landing on the moon. <Gawd, I miss Omni magazine>
posted by spock (116 comments total)

 
I may be the only person left that thinks 2001: a space odyssey is a complete piece of crap. I'm of the opinion that people only think its good because 'smart people' tell them its good. (just like Radiohead) I've seen it more than once, and granted I was sober and maybe that was the problem, but it remains disjointed and ultimately unfulfilling. Someone: please tell me i'm not alone in this...
posted by indiebass at 8:05 AM on May 19, 2005


Gawd, I miss Omni magazine
Me too.
PHBs and sales folks are generally clueless in any profession. They know only schmoozing and clever lies.
posted by nofundy at 8:05 AM on May 19, 2005


Stupid movie executives. Why couldn't it be both?

Seriously, I love 2001 for its artistry, and I can't look away from it when it's on the screen -- except to fall asleep, which I usually do. It accomplishes some great things but to me it's flawed, like a lot of Kubrick's stuff.
posted by coelecanth at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2005


Fun article. Will pull 2001 off the shelf soon. Thanks.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:10 AM on May 19, 2005


TIME CAPSULE 1968-- What the world was talking about when 2001 came out.
April--
Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated
June--
Robert Kennedy assassinated.
August--
The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia with more than 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops, putting an end to the "Prague Spring."
August--
Mayor Richard Daley opens the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The next three days are marked by tension and violence.
November--
Richard Nixon defeats Hubert Humphrey to become President of the United States.
The Beatles release The White Album.
December--
The launch of Apollo 8 begins the first piloted U.S. mission to orbit the moon.
posted by drakepool at 8:18 AM on May 19, 2005


I may be the only person left that thinks 2001: a space odyssey is a complete piece of crap.

Nah, I'm right there with you. For a while it was one of those movies that I felt bad about not liking, I figured I must just not "get it". But then I realized that it really is boring and pointless.
posted by cmonkey at 8:24 AM on May 19, 2005


"Critics often find that thinking for themselves is too much like work: Initial critical reaction was often hostile."

I guess some things never change. If you don't get it, it must be a "complete piece of crap". Or you adopt defensive psychological position that (amazingly enough) puts you above "the smart people". Because its really just too much to think that some things may go over our heads, isn't it? It certainly went over mine and I'm not afraid to admit it.

I'll bet you think "The Old Man and the Sea" is just about an elderly person catching a fish, too. (Not that there's anything WRONG with that)
posted by spock at 8:28 AM on May 19, 2005


"The triumph of our intellect, he seemed to say, might actually cost us our humanity itself."
posted by iamck at 8:33 AM on May 19, 2005


2001: great movie, IMO, but the fact that i haven't seen it since 1968 makes me an unreliable source.

(Not that I don't remember the movie - I seem to reemember every shot - , it's just that I can't be objective about 2001 as a movie, because it was 1968 and I was sixteen.)

If you were twelve when you saw the first Star Wars...well, sme kinda thing.
posted by kozad at 8:33 AM on May 19, 2005


Um, sorry guys. This is one of the greatest movies ever made. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's a boring piece of crap. It just means you don't like 2001. I would submit that you've probably never taken it seriously enough--which is to say, it's not a fun or 'fulfulling' film, it's a grim and frightening one.

rakepool is right-on to post a chronology of what was going on at the time the movie was made. It's far from pointless--it's an incredibly relevant film made at a time when optimism and dread about the high-tech future were being doled out in equal, and equally huge, quantities. Seeing it on the big screen helps, but it's also important to understand where the movie's coming from; I think it's just as relevant now as it was in 1968. You should give it another try with assasination, riot, nuclear holocaust, Camelot, and the moon landing in your mind at once.... I wish more science fiction were this powerful.
posted by josh at 8:33 AM on May 19, 2005


2001 was a glorious film, even given the "trippy" parts that seem a little '60s-ish dated by now. For you youngsters (wink), it's easy to forget that it was the first science-fiction film in which the spaceships looked real, after decades of spinning pie plates. (Silent Running -- directed in 1972 by 2001's FX-meister Doug Trumbull, was the second, but no one remembers it.) One of the first shots in the film even featured one of the actors reading the instructions to use a zero-gravity toilet. It was a huge step forward toward the sci-fi realism that eventually produced Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Alien. After 2001, sci-fi never looked the same on screen again.

Not to contaminate every thread this morning with Star Wars-related content, but one of the parts of my Wired article on George Lucas that I cut in the editing process specifically investigated the 2001/Star Wars connection. I always wondered if the two films had evolved on parallel but wholly separate tracks; with Kubrick in London, and Lucas in California, both working toward the concept of what Lucas eventually christened the "used future" -- a cinematic vision of the future that looked like humans actually lived there. In the course of researching my article, I discovered a very direct connection between the two films that has never been talked about in either the Kubrick or the Lucas biographies, but it was a little far afield from the subject of my Lucas piece, which is the experimental films that he wants to make now that Star Wars is over.

For the record -- and so that future journalists and film geeks can make use of my research -- here's the original paragraph in my piece that discussed this. This paragraph takes place during the time that Lucas was in film school at the University of Southern California in the mid-1960s:

"Then Lucas signed up for a course called Filmic Expression taught by Lester Novros, the founder of a company, Graphic Films, that made documentaries for NASA. One Novros production called To the Moon and Beyond -- now lost -- so impressed Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke at the New York World's Fair that Kubrick hired Novros' assistants, Douglas Trumbull and Con Pederson, to become the f/x supervisors for 2001. Novros' Cinerama lens even got a role in the film as the eye of the HAL9000 computer. A decade later, Lucas would employ Trumbull's assistant, John Dykstra, to invent the "motion-control" camera system, known as the DykstraFlex, that enabled him to put his original vision of dogfighting spaceships on the screen.

Novros, who was a painter before he became a documentarian, focused on the non-verbal aspects of filmmaking -- light, space, motion, and color. In addition to the work of European directors like Sergei Eisenstein and Jean-Luc Godard, he exposed his students to the new wave of cinema verite, documentaries, and animations coming out of the National Film Board of Canada..."

[...].
posted by digaman at 8:41 AM on May 19, 2005


I was surprised when I heard that 2001 got mixed reviews from critics but was a commercial success, I would have thought the opposite. Like nowadays it's like if something is seemingly boring and pretentious it gets rave reviews (woman steams bun in real time, brilliant).

By the way, Roger Ebert gave it a glowing review in 1968.
posted by bobo123 at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2005


Spock: to be honest, I love The Old Man and the Sea, and I think Hemingway's prose is some of the most beautiful writing of the 20th century.

I just think that in the critical world, both positives and negatives feed on each other. I also think that there's a case of the Emperor's New Clothes when it comes to high minded pretentious art. A critic doesn't want to seem like he doesn't "get" what the artist is doing, (because, after all that's his/her JOB) so its easier to smother it with praise than actually take it apart critically. And of course, once one critic says so, every other critic doesn't want to seem like they're not as smart as Critic number One so they follow in suit.

And unfortunately, I think most people trust what the critics say, because, again, its their JOB to know about this stuff so they enjoy it because they were told it was good.

And I can't buy the 'put it in context' argument because when you put a piece of art into the world, that's it. It may have been great in its time, but as a child of the 70's for me it doesn't hold up when you watch it today, nor does it speak to me in a meaningful way. Its probably great if you're on a lot of drugs though.
posted by indiebass at 8:47 AM on May 19, 2005


I buy the "put it in context" argument because I don't like to live in a world in which every cultural artifact seems to have popped out of the TV set five minutes ago, with no sense of what artistic struggles and past victories were required to produce it.

But hey, that's just me.
posted by digaman at 8:52 AM on May 19, 2005


The Old Man and the Sea is a boring piece of crap. No, really, it's a hugely overrated example of a guy who can't write anymore (because he's pickled his brain in alcohol), so he falls back on symbolism so heavy and obvious it drowns you. Just because they use it as a handy tool to teach you about symbolism in grade school doesn't make it good.

Oh wait, we're talking about Star Wars... I mean, 2001. I think it's amazing, I don't get it, I think the "flying colors" sequence goes on for far too long, and can someone explain the final scene? But if you think it's an overrated piece of crap, well, that's your option, because movie criticism, even when it's wrapped up in a good knowledge of film history and a grasp of the film's social context and more than a little highfalutin language, is just about subjectivity. (As someone who dabbles in criticism, I reserve the right to take the piss out of sacred-cow movies, and I will defend to the death [well, not to the death] your right to do the same. Like anything Michelangelo Antonioni has done. But that's off subject.) (And I didn't like Silent Running either. Way too strident.)
posted by goatdog at 8:52 AM on May 19, 2005


The film version of 2001 would have benefited from a good editor and better acting; as it was, the pacing was awful and I found myself feeling no attachment whatsoever to any of the characters; to paraphrase Mark Twain's criticism of James Fenimore Cooper, I wished they would all get sucked out the airlock together.

I'd like to think that I just "didn't get it" or that it "went over my head", but I'm a fairly smart guy, I have a degree in philosophy, I adore sci-fi and I've seen the thing more than a couple times. Sooner or later I just have to admit that the film version of 2001 sucked.
posted by ubernostrum at 8:54 AM on May 19, 2005


I love 2001, but it puts me to sleep as well. I'm pretty sure the monolithic - no pun intended - look and feel of the movie is intentional. Interplanetary travel at the scales supposed in the movie would be insanely boring.

The real story of the movie isn't in whizbang spaceships and action, it's in the big questions of the origins of life and intelligence, what makes life life, and what kind of truly strange things we could discover out there - or what could discover us, or even what created us in the first place - and even more importantly, what strange things we could create that could easily be our own triumph, or our own doom.

It's not an overtly utopian movie, like josh says, it's quite grim. But even through this grimness is a hidden message that despite all the possible horrors, there's even a bit of hope.

This is what makes it good Science Fiction. The books are quite good as well, even the ones Clarke wrote decades later describing what happend to the Jovian system after Jupiter became Lucifer and it became it's own solar system, and what happened to Europa, and what happens when they land there, and why.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, indeed...
posted by loquacious at 8:54 AM on May 19, 2005


goatdog, I agree with you that Silent Running was way too strident, though Bruce Dern may have been playing the first stoner in orbit (grin). That's probably one of the reasons why it's been forgotten. But it had a great look.
posted by digaman at 8:56 AM on May 19, 2005


I love the movie but love the book even more.
posted by sciurus at 8:57 AM on May 19, 2005


Nice post, loquacious.
posted by digaman at 9:00 AM on May 19, 2005


Digaman-I remember Silent Running and thought it was good. Roger Ebert likes it too.

On preview, I see others remember it too, although less fondly.
posted by TedW at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2005


I find it ridiculous to call 2001 a bad movie or a piece of crap. Gigli was a piece of crap. Miss Congeniality 2 is a piece of crap. I can understand that someone may not like 2001 or understand it, but let's be real here, it is a movie with a chellenging set of ideas to be thought about, executed with a high degree of art and visual acuity, with stellar set design and ground breaking effects and people have strong feelings about it. Do you think any of you will need to say, 25 years from now, that Miss Congeniality was a piece of crap? No. There's bad and there's not my cup of tea. Two different things. I don't necessarily like many of Shakespeare's comedies, but I would never find them pieces of crap.
posted by spicynuts at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2005


There is a flower within my heart,
Daisy, Daisy!
Planted one day by a glancing dart,
Planted by Daisy Bell!
Whether she loves me or loves me not,
Sometimes it's hard to tell;
Yet I am longing to share the lot
Of beautiful Daisy Bell!

Chorus:
Daisy Daisy,
Give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'll look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two !
We will go "tandem" as man and wife,
Daisy, Daisy!
Ped'ling away down the road of life,
I and my Daisy Bell!
When the road's dark we can despise
P'liceman and lamps as well;
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell!
Chorus:

I will stand by you in "wheel" or woe,
Daisy, Daisy!
You'll be the bell(e) which I'll ring, you know!
Sweet little Daisy Bell!
You'll take the lead in each trip we take,
Then if I don't do well;
I will permit you to use the brake,
My beautiful Daisy Bell!!!
Chorus:
posted by nervousfritz at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2005


Sorry, 2001 is clearly brilliant. And not because 'smart' people tell you so. If you think it's a piece of crap, I'm pretty sure that's because you can't appreciate it, not because it has drastic failings as film.

Technologically, there hasn't been a more accurate film to project future tech yet, even if the timing was off. It still looks beautiful. The fact that it comepellingly gave a monotone voice attached to a malevolent red eye the illusion of feeling and pathos is incredible.

It tells a story without spoon-feeding the viewer. It challenges them not only to draw answers from the film, but in many cases to formulate the questions in the first place. It's truly a film where you can draw more more from repeated watchings.

Boring? Pretentious? Whatever. It's not for short attention spans, that's for sure. And it definitely isn't about giving easily digested 'pleasure', or wrapping things up tidily. How the hell could a speculative exploration of how human consciousness expanded and could expand again ever do that and be remotely taken seriously?

The Star Wars films, on the other hand, are pretty much complete crap as sci fi, film or just entertainment. Unless you're a kid. Empire's pretty decent in the entertainment department, I guess.
posted by the_savage_mind at 9:07 AM on May 19, 2005


But indiebass, the opposite is the case here: many critics called '2001' boring, many viewers found it resonant and meaningful. Loving '2001' isn't some critical fad, it's a real, legitimate pop phenomenon.

I think you have to put the movie in context precisel because it is extremely topical--it's not a Romantic poem, but a science-fiction movie, and a science fiction movie inspired by ideas that were more explicitly current in the '60s then they are now. Sometimes it just takes a little work to understand art from a prior period, especially when that art is bound up with references and ideas specific to the period.

Hemingway is good too, by the way--even though, like '2001,' his novels are a little bit out of our modern-day aesthetic comfort zone. You could make a long list of films and books that require a little stretch on our part if we're to understand them: D. H. Lawrence, for example, Hemingway, a movie like "Easy Rider," "Waiting for Godot".... It doesn't mean they're bad, it just means (surprise!) that they're old. Part of the job of modern-day critics is to help you make that stretch; you can interpret that as pretentiousness, but that's an incorrect interpretation.

Anyway, for me, '2001' is a very meaningful movie. Think about how easy--and how meaningless--it would've been for Kubrick to make a comfortable science fiction movie in which you rooted for the good guys and against the bad guys and, as you left the theater, fantasized about your future retirement to Moon Base Alpha. '2001' takes really seriously the idea that technology dehumanizes (dehumanization being not only a theme of Kubrick's, but a reality of 20th-century history). You can't empathize with the characters not because Kubrick screwed up, but because they are Men of the Future. Their computers have gotten more human, and they have gotten less so. And Kubrick doesn't examine this in a reductive, Luddite way; he looks at it with a lot of wonder. I think there are few more resonant images of the future in cinema than the one in '2001' when Bowman, with the arms of his pod outstretched, reaches out to Poole, who is floating, dead, in his spacesuit.

On preview: what loquacious and spicynuts said.
posted by josh at 9:08 AM on May 19, 2005


And I can't buy the 'put it in context' argument because when you put a piece of art into the world, that's it.

That's such utter horseshit I think I'm going to chew off my fingers. Only the most completely abstract works of art would stand outside of context, and even then interpretation would be supremely and ultimately subjective.

Example: Petroglyphs. Commonly accepted interpretations of certain southwestern and central American petroglyphs is that they were either records of hunts, or prayers to whatever powers that would be for good, bountiful hunts.

Except that in these particular petroglyphs, there's no evidence of the cultures that created them actually hunting bighorn sheep. And that doesn't explain the hallucinatory symbology found along side them.

New interpretations suggest that "hunting the bighorn sheep" was a suprisingly sophisticated metaphor for shamanistic/psychedelic experiences.

But without situational and cultural context, all we can do is make educated guesses.

Context is vastly important to art. As an artist, I know we'd all love to think that our works transcend time, space, and language and exist eternally in some rarified atmosphere free of the drudgery of day-to-day existence and symbology but frankly that's a load of rancid emu offal.

There are frighteningly few - if any - works of art that transcend their substrate of contextual and cultural meaning. And the majority of those are wide open to subjective interpretation and by no means accurately objective in their communication and symbology.

This is why there is no sure-fire way to design symbols or logos to - say - denote hazards outside of the context of language. For example, the biohazard symbol. Lots of money and time and thought went into that, but really, if you saw it for the first time on it's day-glo background, as a native of a different planet or a totally different culture, would it mean "don't open this!" to you? Probably not.

There was (or is) a project that was attempting to create such a trancendental warning to future civilization to warn them away from nuclear or toxic waste dumps. Almost any medium or form would be acceptable as long as it was durable and it accomplished the goal of non-culturally and non-linguistically communicating that warning. It turns out that it's much more difficult to do then anyone thought, and part of the reason for that is how extremely difficult it is to truly remove oneself and ones own thought patterns from the context of their own culture and language.

Context is everything.
posted by loquacious at 9:17 AM on May 19, 2005


indiebass: " I'm of the opinion that people only think itsgood because 'smart people' tell them its good. (just like Radiohead)"

Well, I'm 'smart people', and I'm telling you, it's good. So's Radiohead.
So get with the program, huh?
posted by signal at 9:22 AM on May 19, 2005


What the_savage_mind and loquacious said.
-- Naverno emu ochen' trudno.
-- Po-vidimosti.
-- Da, ochen' trudno.

posted by gubo at 9:22 AM on May 19, 2005


The Movie is supposed to feel like it is going over your head. The machine is supposed to seem more human than the people. You are supposed to Say WTF?!? at the end. That is all as Stanley K. intended, and in that regard it is a very good film.
posted by Megafly at 9:27 AM on May 19, 2005


From the article:

Stanley Kubrick in 1968: "If 2001 has stirred your emotions, your subconscious, your mythological yearnings, then it has succeeded."

Great quote. Great post. And I love the film.

2001 always stirred my emotions in much the same way that josh alludes to above. Watching Poole struggling for air in the empty blackness is still one of the most unsettling things I've ever seen on film, and Bowman having to release Poole's body one of the most haunting.
posted by malaprohibita at 9:28 AM on May 19, 2005


Saw 2001 about three times total. The first time as a kid, I was too young to understand anything but be scared of the big black thing. The second time in college, I nodded off. The third time, a few years later, I discovered it freaked me out, makes me sleepy, and lastly, quite excellent.
posted by linux at 9:29 AM on May 19, 2005


Great Thursday Discussion! And for clarification, let me iterate that we are talking about the film, not the book, because I've never read the book, but as always is the case I will assume that the book was better.

And I'll do something that never happens in the discussion forum: I'll retract my call of "crap". But still stand by the fact that it is a bad movie. First and foremost in a film, you should want to keep watching it. If you're reading a book, it should make you want to turn the page. If you're watching a movie it should at least create some interest in what will happen next. IMO, 2001 fails here miserably. The plot, or more accurately lack of plot is why 2001 is a bad film.

Yes, it may have looked good, and technically the SFX may have been ground breaking. If you look at it from that perspective, that it helped make movies later that were awesome, then fine. But it should be studied by film students for technical purposes. And that's it.

And like i said: great art stands up over time. Once art is out in the world it belongs to the world. Not to a particular time or place. If it is truly great, it will be relevant whenever /wherever (to quote Shakira) it is seen, heard or watched.
posted by indiebass at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2005


2001 is still my favorite sci-fi movie, but then again, i like Radiohead, too, so what do I know...
posted by doctor_negative at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2005


One of the things that Kubrick got right -- and exploited to horrific effect in the scene malaprohibita mentions -- is that space is silent. Lucas et. al. traded away that truth for the THX-enhanced rumbling of Star Destroyers and so forth, which was a cheat that made it much easier to make impressive spaceships in films. I admire Kubrick for artistically employing that constraint.
posted by digaman at 9:40 AM on May 19, 2005


"Hunting the bighorn sheep" is my new favorite euphemism.

And yeah, you can argue all day about whether 2001 is in the canon of truly great film. But you really look like an anti-intelligentsia moran with a chip on your shoulder if you argue that "only the 'smart' people like that."

To paraphrase another fine film: He failed French in high school, and thinks everything over there is set up to make him look stupid.

On preview, indiebass, if your definition of a good film is that it is plot-driven and entertaining, then I can see where you're coming from. But these are not definitions of great film or art. If they were, Stephen King would replace Dostoevsky, and Herzog and Tarkovsky would pale beside Ridley Scott and Michael Mann.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:43 AM on May 19, 2005


indiebass: "let me iterate thatwe are talking about the film, not the book, because I've never readthe book, but as always is the case I will assume that the book wasbetter."

Actually, the book was written at the same time as the movie, the whole thing was a collaboration between Kubrick and Clarke, so there's no chicken/egg thing going on here.

And the book is good, mostly because the whole falling-down-the-well sequence takes up like 6 chapters of it, with plenty of description, etc., of what Poole saw, the places he went, etc., which IMO is more interesting than some trick shots of car headlights.
posted by signal at 9:45 AM on May 19, 2005


You've all said what I was going to say.

I love it, some people don't, but people feel it is to their credit that they do or don't love it as well. That's a wrong-headed notion - like spicynuts said, it's not a bad movie, Miss Congeniality 2 is a bad movie. 2001 is a strange movie, and if you can't or don't want to square yourself with that, you won't like it - no insult meant.

Similarly, I happen to not like a lot of poetry for whatever reason, and I'm sure there are types who would say, uhhh if you don't like e. e. cummings you're a total moron. To them I say, and you who do/don't like 2001/Star wars should also say, "When I watched/read it, I felt/did not feel a pleasing sensation." They can't argue with that, or if they do you'll know they're just stubborn. I do this when people ask why I don't like things like squash and mushrooms and shrimp.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:46 AM on May 19, 2005


I'd like to clarify that the WTF?!? echose the WTF?!? that Dave is feeling when he looks into infinity.

My God... it's full of stars!

I get goosebumps at that point. Every time. Somehow the film conveys to me a sense of wonder beyond all understanding. And it accomplishes it with almost no dialogue, just framing of shots and the accompaniment of some classical music.

There is no way to come up with an explanation for that which would be beyond our ability to comprehend. Kubrick had the rare good sense to realize that, the faith in the public as a whole not to condescend or baby them, and the reputation and iron will to pull it off at a humongous budget under the nose of MGM. Hell, he pulled off Dr. Strangelove, one of the single greatest films in history and one that did nothing but torch the dominant, corrupt militant paradigm. Mercilessly and hysterically. Only Life of Brian comes close as comedy/agitprop/make you think about just what the fuck has gone wrong.

Stanley Fucking Kubrick got an American studio to do Lolita. In 1962. LOLITA. The story of an adult man who manipulates a child into a sexual relationship. He was bad-ass to the extreme.

Sure, the ending of 2001 is no black-armoured phallus-head screaming AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!, but then what is?

Oh, and Indiebass, in this case I find the movie far superior. It was conceptualized and written as a film first. The novel followed. As far as the movie goes, it never leaves me hanging. It engages my thoughts throughout. Even the relatively dead times are just spaces for me to consider what's already gone on. This film is so far deeper than technical wizardy. It's not entertainment, that might be your problem. I don't mean that as an insult, just that from what you write, you expect it to be the equivalent of a page-turning novel. Well, IMO, there a lot of non-novels that are engrossing and meant to provoke thought, but not at a speedy rate. Pick up a difficult philosophical treatise on consciousness. There's no way to blow through it and absorb anything. You're not supposed to. Film can be that way too without 'failing'.

2001 is sci fi in the sense of some of the best sci fi (Stanislaw Lem and some of Philip K. Dick come to mind). You have to reread sections frequently to parse out what's going on, and that involves actually thinking about things and teasing them apart.
posted by the_savage_mind at 9:48 AM on May 19, 2005


Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 Diary (Excerpts).

Obligatory Wikipedia link to Arthur C. Clarke which, in turn, leads you to Kubrick, the movie, "The Sentinel", etc.

And, a quick (if irrelevant) look at the Academy Award nominees and winners for 1968.
posted by spock at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2005


Meaningful or not, 2001 puts (or put, a long time ago) me to sleep. A calculus text is meaningful, too, but it doesn't engage me emotionally.

I do remember liking Silent Running, and though it's been ages since I've seen it or 2001, I recall that I felt empathy for the leading character (Dern's part) and even for the little robots (Huey, Dewey, and Louie), whereas I never cared whether anyone in 2001 (or in any Star Wars reel, for that matter) lived or died. If HAL had been more interesting, I would have been rooting for him.
posted by pracowity at 10:02 AM on May 19, 2005


I first saw it when I was a little kid and it was on television. I was young enough that it was on too late for me to see the entire thing. It's one of the only televised memories I have from that period and I remember overwhelming my parents with questions. As I grew up I unwrapped more and more layers of the story, both from repeated viewings (I've seen it 3 times now) and from memory.

I loved it then and still love it now.
posted by substrate at 10:04 AM on May 19, 2005


I'm with everyone else who said the mystery, and the withholding of information ("WTF?"), is what makes this a great film.

For an example of what NOT to do, look at Spielberg's "A.I." It starts as a Kubrick film (he developed the movie), which actually works out OK, but by the mysterious, surreal ending...Spielberg feels that everything has to be explained to you. And thusly comes off contrived and stupid.
posted by fungible at 10:06 AM on May 19, 2005


I've always loved 2001, and god help me, I even like 2010, although part of the reason for that was that I was 11 when it came out, and the scene where the crew slingshots around Jupiter was fan-fucking-tastic eye candy, not to mention tense as hell. An underrated film, 2010...as long as you accept that it's charms are more mainstream in nature than 2001.
posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 10:09 AM on May 19, 2005


I've heard enough people dismiss Miles Davis' Kind of Blue as "boring" -- or as one person put it, "all those wailing saxophones, jazz just sounds all the same to me" -- to realize that I live in a universe where even the most sublime works of art will be overlooked as boring by others.

In my case, every five-minute Nick Cave song sounds like a frickin' eternity to me, while I could listen to Kind of Blue three times in succession without getting antsy. But I know some "smart people" think Cave is good, even sublime. It's just life.
posted by digaman at 10:09 AM on May 19, 2005


2001: A REVIEW


A look at how the science-fiction classic holds up in this, its namesake year

"2001: A Space Odyssey is a countdown to tomorrow, a road map to human destiny, a quest for the infinite. It is a dazzling, Academy Award-winning visual achievement, a compelling drama of man vs. machine, a stunning meld of music and motion. It may be the masterwork of Stanley Kubrick (who co-wrote the screenplay with Arthur C. Clarke) and it will likely excite, inspire and enthrall for generations."

At least that's what it says on the box. And now that we've finally arrived at 2001 ourselves, I thought I'd take a look back at what those sci-fi geniuses and cultural scribes predicted way back in 1968. I loved 2001; I saw it when it first came out, and I saw it several times after that, and there's been a 20-year gap since the last time I looked at it. So I watched it again just recently in honor of the year, and let me tell you straight out, it is as confusing now as it was then.

I really wanted to believe and admire all of the wonderful, portentous beauty of the film. I mean, who am I to fly in the face of Spielberg (who likened it to the formative Big Bang of his filmmaking generation), Clarke, and, for God's sake, Kubrick? That wonderful shot of the turning bone becoming a Spaceship--your heart leaps every time you see it. And yet the goddamned opening with the badly suited stuntmen takes a long time. I watched on and realized that almost everything in this movie takes a long time. And then you get to the ending.

You could rationalize old age turning to new life or the fact that you might age at a slower rate in space and come back home younger than the old people who were once your peers, fine. But why is it set in a Victorian house? And why does Keir Dullea knock over the glass of wine? These questions go unanswered as another transition creeps along. The spaceship takes so long to get into the orbiting satellite that it requires several well-known composers to bring us in.

Why do I have to work so hard at understanding an ending when the rest of the movie is, essentially, a short story? That damn HAL won't let Dullea back in the spaceship, and Dullea forces his way in and takes out a few boxes, and HAL dies. That's it, folks. That's the plot. It's a simple, elegant one-acter; unfortunately, when I'm going to be 139 minutes closer to death before the credits roll, I'd prefer a complete three-act plot.

2001: A Space Odyssey is an important motion picture, with effects that were brilliant and innovative for its time, and it does hold up in a way, but I wanted to be as thrilled now as I was when I first saw it. It's a little like seeing an old love 30 years later: You see intimations of beauty and romance, but it's not quite the same.

What makes the vocal artiste of Priceline.com commercials, who also appears in the new Sandra Bullock vehicle Miss Congeniality, qualified to pass judgment on a sci-fi classic? His lesser-known credits include directing 1989's Star Trek V, writing a number of science-fiction novels, including Star Trek: Preserver (Pocket Books, $24), in bookstores now, and commanding a Constitution Class starship for five years.

~~~~~~~~

By William Shatner
Copyright of Esquire is the property of Hearst Brand Development and its content may not be copied or e-mailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder`s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or e-mail articles for individual use.
Source: Esquire, Jan2001, Vol. 135 Issue 1, p26, 1p
posted by drakepool at 10:10 AM on May 19, 2005


One of my favorites films of all time. I've watched it at least a dozen times and I'm still amazed by the Pan Am Clipper docking sequence. Hard to believe that it was shot 37 years ago and the special effects still stand up quite nicely to today's technology.
I also completely agree with digaman's comment about how silent the space shots were. That was one of the things that struck me about the film. The use of silence. I don't claim to understand it, but that's also one of my favorite things about the film. It encourages discussion.
posted by reidfleming at 10:10 AM on May 19, 2005


Yeah, but A.I. had a jive-talking robot!
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:11 AM on May 19, 2005


Indiebass,

I think the problem is that you seem to think that because you dislike a movie that this makes the movie "bad". I think we can all (hopefully) agree that one person or even a million persons disliking something does not make it "bad". Similarly, one person or a million person liking something does not make it "good". Many kids (and adults) think Shakespeare is crap, but this does not make his work crap. It is just that it is not relevant TO THEM, or perhaps that they do not understand it and thus condemn it.

From the sounds of it, your problem is with the pacing of the movie. To others, this is part of the genius of the movie. I had friends who had similar problems with Lost in Translation. To each his or her own.

Also, your argument is based on the assumption that 2001 is irrelevant now. I would argue it IS relevant. It is not irrelevant just because you say so or because you dislike it.

Basically, all your arguments boil down to is that you don't like 2001. This does not have any grand implications on the artistic merits of the movie.

I'll admit that I make snap judgements of music like that all the time, however. But that's different, because I'm right. ;-)

JJ
posted by Jupiter Jones at 10:11 AM on May 19, 2005


First and foremost in a film, you should want to keep watching it.

And just because you did not want to keep watching it that makes it bad? Or boring? I wanted to keep watching it. In fact, whenever I watch it I want to keep watching it. You're going to keep falling into the same trap of your taste vs. other people's taste. Your taste is not the sole barometer of bad vs. good. Nor is mine. Let's put this argument another way...would you rather be forced to watch the next Pauly Shore vehicle, or 2001 again?
posted by spicynuts at 10:14 AM on May 19, 2005


One of my favorite films by one of my favorite directors. Reading the 2001 chapter in Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze helped me appreciate it all the more. (excerpt here)
posted by Dean King at 10:25 AM on May 19, 2005


thanks for this.
posted by Mme. Robot at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2005


N THE SPRING OF 1968, the Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli sent a telegram to Stanley Kubrick: `YOU MADE ME DREAM EYES WIDE OPEN STOP YOURS IS MUCH MORE THAN AN EXTRAORDINARY FILM THANK YOU'.
posted by drakepool at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2005


I'm sorry dave... but I've said it before and I'll say it again, pick the genre and Kubrick kicks its ass. Sci-Fi, war, cold war, youth gone mad apacalo-paranoia, horror, period-piece (fuckin' Barry Lyndon man), Nabakov. He's got 'em all covered, with some small exceptions. I find you have to let films like 2001 wash over you a bit, it requires a different appreciation for pacing and absorption style from the viewer than, say, Cassavetes or Houston or Nick Ray or any of his contemporaries. I think the Conversation (My second favorite Coppola) is a more frantic or busy kind of take on what Kubrick gets at. He was truly a master of mood and tone and he seemed to understand film in some unique sense, in the way Welles did early on, as a medium that was purely other.

Not that I need to stand around and tell anyone Kubrick is the best, I just like to.

Oh and thanks Spock.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:46 AM on May 19, 2005


Very interesting drakepool. Later Kubrick takes a short story "Traumnovelle" and co-writes a screenplay, which (again) is then turned into a novel to be released with the film. Entitled: "Eyes Wide Shut".
<connecting the dots>
posted by spock at 10:47 AM on May 19, 2005


I'm with you on Miles, digaman. In that regard, I remember when 2001 came out, people were ARGUING over it -- did it have a plot? What did the ending mean? When was the last time people argued about what a sci-fi movie meant?

By the way, I didn't get a clue about the ending till of 2001 till recently, when reading Brian Greene's Fabric of the Universe, I began to understand how, in space-time, all events are occurring simultaneously (hence Dullea can watch himself as an old man and then appear as a fetus). Bit of a time lag there, I know.
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:54 AM on May 19, 2005


I hate arguments over whether a certain piece of art is "bad" or "good"; they never seem to go anywhere.

That said, 2001 is probably my favorite film; I find just about every shot riveting, every time. It gorgeous and powerful and emotionally resonant and absolutely enormous in every way. I'm not a religious person, but....

I like calculus, too.



I lied about hating arguments about art. Secretly, I really, really like them.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:57 AM on May 19, 2005


I'd argue that your taste is in fact the sole barometer of bad vs. good. Someone up there (JJ?) said that one person or a million people liking something doesn't make it good; I'd sidestep that argument (while agreeing with it) by saying that it's useless to argue that any work of art is inherently good or bad. It's all about what value your culture gives to it.
posted by goatdog at 10:58 AM on May 19, 2005


I saw 2001 for the first time in a theater at the Castro in SF, freshly made prints (72mm, IIRC), and a guy playing Also Sprach Zarathustra (sp.?) on a organ (not a keyboard, an organ) while we all shuffled in and took our seats.
Gold.
If you've only seen it on a TV, you are not entitled to an opinion.
posted by signal at 10:59 AM on May 19, 2005


Put me down as one of those who love it. The scene where Bowman disconnects Hal is one of the funniest, and then most tragic, in movies. I laugh out loud when Hal advises Dave to "sit down, take a stress pill, and think things over." And then Hal tells Dave his mind is going. "I can feel it," he says and that give me goosebumps. "I'm afraid, Dave." Man, that's just an intense scene, the point being, I guess, that this poor, mad, homicidal computer feels more emotion as it dies than the human being cutting off the higher brain functions does.

I've seen 2001 a mess o' times. I've seen it twice on the huge screen at the Uptown Theater in DC. I've seen one of the only (if not the only) surviving Cinerama prints at the IMAX theater at the Air & Space Museum (sad to say, the print was in sad shape, its colors all faded). I've seen it in Boston and L.A. Sometimes I think I don't need to see it again, but then I do.

If it isn't relevant, if it doesn't achieve some kind of greatness, then why are we all talking about it today?

There was a story that circulated after Kubrick died about another film director dying and going to heaven. He's standing at the gates with St. Peter gawking at all the famous people--Einstein, Shakespeare, DeForest Kelley--when a guy rides past on a bike. He's wearing a tattered military jacket, worn out sneakers and has unkempt hair and a graying beard. "Wow!" the director says. He turns to St. Peter. "Was that Stanley Kubrick?"

"No," Peter replies. "That was God. He just thinks he's Stanley Kubrick."
posted by Man-Thing at 11:05 AM on May 19, 2005


The reason smart people tell dumb, taste-free people... err, I mean 'other' people... that 2001 and Radiohead are great is because they're smart. As opposed to dumb and taste-free... err, I mean 'not smart'.
posted by Decani at 11:06 AM on May 19, 2005


sad to say, the print was in sad shape, its colors all faded

This print has been remastered and restruck in the 70mm format. I saw it in 2001 (the year, at the Cinerama theater in downtown Seattle); the colors are back, and they're gorgeous.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:12 AM on May 19, 2005


It's pointless to try and say that there is any such thing as an apriori good film, one that (when we get down to the nitty gritty) we all have to agree is good, even if we don't like it. No one has to think 2001 is a good film. The fact I think it's a better movie than Gigli doesn't mean that I can't think both are bad films. Such is my opinion, and I'm entitled to it, and other people share it.

I think that most people would agree that it's an important film, a beautifully-shot film, a meaningful film, a film designed to be timeless, and a serious film. You don't have to like the film, or even understand it, to appreciate those elements of it. But all those things don't add up to "good" for a lot of people.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:15 AM on May 19, 2005


At the very least, there's something to the fact that 2001 still generates such passionate debate as we're seeing here.

And what signal said: if you haven't seen in in a theatre -- preferably with a huge screen, the kind that's hard to find in the multiplex era -- you haven't really seen it.
posted by pmurray63 at 11:15 AM on May 19, 2005


The existence of the noncomforist can often backfire when something "good" becomes "mainstream."

i.e. I want to hate Napolean Dynamite because I see Vote for Pedro shirts at Hot Topic. But it's still a damn funny movie, and I refuse to let my insecurities about being cool change that.
posted by iamck at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2005


Hahaha, that's great Man-Thing!

re: taste, it's all subjective, etc.: This is true, taste is the sole barometer; but taste can be developed, too; Hume writes about this very well in his essay on taste. Sartre wrote something that I always think of whenever we get into supposedly 'pointless' debates about art:

"Culture doesn't save anything or anyone, it doesn't justify. But it's a product of man: he projects himself into it, he recognizes himself in it; that critical mirror alone offers him his image."

So the subjectivity of it all is the very best reason to argue about culture and what it means--since when we talk about culture we're really talking about ourselves, and by owning to or disowning '2001' as good or bad you're really making a statement about what you could call its truth value. '2001' always seems to me to be perfect for this purpose. It is an amazing technological achievement about technological achievement and its dangers, perfectly summed up in the use of the Cinerama lens--the same lens used in many shots of the film--as HAL's big red eye. Kubrick is showing us that silent, empty, slow-moving universe because that's what he thinks the universe is really like. I'm not sure what you even mean, 23skidoo, when you say that '2001' could be important, meaningful, and beautiful, and not be 'good'; to me, it would be more accurate to say that while '2001' is not fun, or not as fun as some other films, it is certainly more truthful and more useful as a mirror. It's also far more truthful than most other science fiction; one of the reasons it's great is that, for all the cool special effects and all the proposed high-technology, it's actually a very cautiously written movie.

A good way of looking at the movie, IMO, is that it gives you back what you bring to it. If you are, like Pauline Kael (occasionally) was, "monumentally unimaginative," the movie will seem to you to be, as she wrote, "monumentally unimaginative" and "trash masquerading as art." If you bring to it a set of already-percolating questions--which I think people were bringing to the movie in 1968--then it is a very rich experience. I think this is true of a lot of art; it's true about "The Waste Land," for example. To really enjoy '2001,' I think you already have to be wondering about the same sorts of questions Kubrick was wondering about. In that sense the movie is a little insular, and I would agree with that criticism... It doesn't clue you in about how to watch it or what to think about. But that doesn't make it less artistically valid or any less powerful.
posted by josh at 11:34 AM on May 19, 2005


I remember an evening in 1968, hiding beneath the pillows because I thought my parents were having a fight. No, they'd just been to see 2001 and they were *angry*.

I got a little older and read the book, I took great pleasure in explaining everything to them. I thought 2001 was cool.

Last week I saw the film for about the fifth time and - you know what, my parents were right. Fifteen minutes of screeching puerile men-in-a-monkey-suit nonsense, so clumsy and so boring. No wonder they were cross.
posted by grahamwell at 11:34 AM on May 19, 2005


OMG, I never thought I'd say it but Shatner nails it down. I mean, NAILS it.

Why do I have to work so hard at understanding an ending when the rest of the movie is, essentially, a short story? ...It's a simple, elegant one-acter; unfortunately, when I'm going to be 139 minutes closer to death before the credits roll, I'd prefer a complete three-act plot.

The only part of the film that has any value is when there is interaction of any kind. And that's Hal and Dullea. And one of them is just a red light in the wall. OK, fine. But in that part of the movie SOMETHING HAPPENS. Throughout the rest of the film you can't say that. If you want to look at a visually and aurally beautiful set of films, check out the Koyaanisquatsi series by Godfrey Reggio. Music by Phillip Glass. They're amazing.

Jupiter Jones: did you read anything I wrote? or just the first entry? I don't think my arguments "boil down to" the fact that i don't like it. If you read what I said, there are MAJOR problems with it. I'm not saying you can't pick apart individual good things about it, but as a gestalt it is weak. And if you want to talk about silence in space as awesomeness, check out ANY one of the Alien films. Does it owe that awesomeness to Kubrick? Most likely. But that is a great example of taking elements from an otherwise flawed movie and using the best parts in something good.

and Spicynuts: honestly, give me Pauly Shore over 2001 any day. Not because I think Pauly Shore has any talent at all, or that his movies are clever or thought provoking in any way. In fact, I can't think of many reasons to watch a Pauly Shore movie but if it means I don't have to sit through 2001 again, Bring on Jury Duty or In the Army Now
posted by indiebass at 11:38 AM on May 19, 2005


iamck - Aren't my insecurities about being cool what Napoleon Dynamite is all about, anyway.

The most stirring part of 2001 for me is when Dave brings the corpse of his friend back from space. We see the arms of the pod hold the body in a kind of space-age pieta. Using models and mock-ups Kubrick achieves a moment more moving than any to be found in the entire half-day's worth of scenery-chewing in Lucas's trashy space operas.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2005


Thank you spock...this is great.


Re: Echos and the "trippy" sections...
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned that if you play the last song on Pink Floyd's Meddle -- Echos simultaneously with the last section of 2001 (start the song when "Jupiter" comes on screen), Interesting synchronicties emerge. Especially if you have *ahem* enhanced your senses... ;)

I think that 2001, along with the rest of Kubrick's films, has some of the most breathtaking cinematography and vivid imagery. I could watch it on mute and still enjoy...
posted by schyler523 at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2005


2001. Damn. I saw it not too long ago in it's original Cinerama here in Seattle. And it was the brilliant acid trip I enjoyed when I first saw it twenty five years ago.

One take I think most of you don't really get... the astronauts, Dr. Floyd all the human characters... that is how those guys really ARE. Real astronauts, I mean. My brother in-law was an F-15 pilot and washed out of the Astronaut program. Those guys are trained to be completely unemotional and are 100% focused individuals.

You ever read about the Challenger disaster and how one the pilots was still giving straight up data several seconds after the Shuttle was breaking apart. No "Oh SHIT" or anything like that.

I think Clark and Kubrick were brilliant in anticipating the details of this culture. I think this hyper-realism was part of the odd contrast with the un-real ending of the film. Kubrick was saying "look, even these uber-focused elites are puny before the mighty infinite. They can't comprehend it. Neither can you. But they can enjoy the ride."

That people think this movie is a piece of crap truly saddens me. I think those are sentiments of our media saturated attention spans more than a real critique of the film.
posted by tkchrist at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2005


What makes the vocal artiste of Priceline.com commercials, who also appears in the new Sandra Bullock vehicle Miss Congeniality, qualified to pass judgment on a sci-fi classic? His lesser-known credits include directing 1989's Star Trek V, writing a number of science-fiction novels, including Star Trek: Preserver (Pocket Books, $24), in bookstores now, and commanding a Constitution Class starship for five years.

Hahahahahahahahaha! Isn't Star Trek V the one where they travel to the center of the galaxy and meet God or something? And now, to turn your back on the film you ripped off so incompetently.... that's cold.
posted by josh at 11:48 AM on May 19, 2005


I don't absolutely love 2001, but I think it's a magnificent piece of filmmaking and writing. (I'm gonna rent it this weekend, thanks spock.) I can understand how someone wouldn't like/enjoy/be entertained by the film, but how anyone could call it crap is beyond me.

I do, however, love beyond comprehension and worship Radiohead. I think, though, that they might be what I call a musician's band...
posted by Specklet at 11:50 AM on May 19, 2005


What's this "Star Trek"-thing you people are talking about? I thought this thread was about Sci-Fi.
posted by signal at 11:58 AM on May 19, 2005


What's up with this article starting off with a conjunction?
posted by papakwanz at 12:23 PM on May 19, 2005


Hey, to everyone who said they're going to rent it, some suggestions.

First one: Don't. If you're coming to this film again after a long absence, your tv is a bad place to do it.

Second: If you have to, turn off all your lights and phones and watch the whole thing straight through. Yes, even the boring parts.

Third: try to get this version. There are others, but they suck (You hear me Criterion?)

A huge part of this is the feeling of majesty and silences. If you miss that, it's deadly boring. After you've watched it again, may I recommend this book? It's a series of essays by people who worked on the film, knew Kubrick at that time, or had some weird connection to it. It's the best place to find out about what a completley different kind of film this is from anything that was made before, and likely, will ever be made again.

Let's address some of the criticisms of this film brought up here. I agree the pre-human part goes on a bit. Keep in mind that almost every film that had a pre-history part in it up to this point was of the caveman variety. You know, Alley-oop looking guys. The whole realism of this part was almost frightening at the time. And if you ever have a chance to see the remastered print of it, you will never ever see backgrounds that beautiful again.

Also, the end. Yeah, the light tunnel is a little hokey now. Try to take it for what it is, a metaphor (if metaphors don't scare you away) for birth into a different state of being. The idea that a system of faster that light travel used by hi-tech aliens would have implications for the creatures that use it is pretty cool. The hotel scene is a reference to the bewildering ideas brought up by Einstein about the flexible nature of time at high speeds. The idea was that the concepts of the future are going to alter the way we percieve things to the point that being human is going to become obsolete.

The fact that none of this is spelled out is totally fantastic. You know why? Because if there was a movie where a guy in a spacesuit reeled off that paragraph I just wrote, it would be, well, I'm sure the Wachowski brothers are working on it.

But you know what? It was a great film. People loved it and still love it. Yeah, the critics were split on it. I think that's a good sign. When I read two critics I like violently disagreeing over a film, I almost have to see it. That means it has ideas.

Oh, and really, I can't recommend that book enough. For film buffs it's pure candy.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:33 PM on May 19, 2005


lumpenprole: When I read two critics I like violently disagreeing over a film, I almost have to see it. That means it has ideas.

perhaps you should check out this film. It has a 63 point spread of opinion!

Just kiddin.
posted by papakwanz at 12:46 PM on May 19, 2005


I first saw 2001 in 1968 when I was 11, and thought that it was the best movie I had ever seen - it really turned me on to science fiction. As a bonus, the first time I saw pot smoking in action was in that theater.

A little later my English class had an assignment to write to your favorite author. I wrote Arthur C. Clarke, asking him what the ending meant - what was the baby going to do. I got back a form letter, but hand-written in at the end was a note "He was coming back to Earth to destroy the bombs".
posted by rfs at 12:57 PM on May 19, 2005


Every work of art can/should be judged solely on its own terms, since each work of art is unique in its starting point, story arc, and intended terminus.

I am thirty-something, but I grew up a little watching Castaway, when I realized a movie doesn't have to entertain me every fucking second for it to get its point across.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:07 PM on May 19, 2005


Indiebass,

Yup, I read all your posts. In fact I was replying mostly to the most recent one. I just went back and read them all again and I stand by my conclusions. You really seem to think that because you dislike the film intensely that it naturally follows that it is a bad film.

There were parts of the movie that I personally found a bit boring. As a whole, however, I think it is a staggering achievement by a brilliant man and one of the best films ever made. I would not change a thing.

In the end, however, it is up to personal taste. You don't like it, and I can understand that. But it does not mean that it is a bad movie. There will always be some brilliant piece of art that is praised by most people that some intelligent person somewhere will despise. That’s the nature of art. I don't think you've identified any major problems with it other than you dislike the plot and pacing. Personal taste. As Kafkaesque says, “On preview, indiebass, if your definition of a good film is that it is plot-driven and entertaining, then I can see where you're coming from. But these are not definitions of great film or art. If they were, Stephen King would replace Dostoevsky, and Herzog and Tarkovsky would pale beside Ridley Scott and Michael Mann.” Well put, Kafkaesque.

Jupiter Jones
posted by Jupiter Jones at 1:40 PM on May 19, 2005


If I recall correctly, rfs - and it's been about twenty years - 2001 (the book) ends with the Star Child approaching Earth and setting off alarms all over the globe. Which always struck me as a little silly ("Mr. President, the Earth is under attack by a giant fetus!").
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:41 PM on May 19, 2005


If I recall correctly, rfs - and it's been about twenty years - 2001 (the book) ends with the Star Child approaching Earth and setting off alarms all over the globe.

I think the alarms are going off because the fetus detonated a bunch of orbiting warheads. Which still makes for an awesome briefing for the President.
posted by COBRA! at 2:05 PM on May 19, 2005


This thread has been the best read I've had this week and I haven't even looked at the linked article. I'm no great sci fi fan but I am a devotedly Kubrickophilic. I love art that makes me think or makes me question my understanding of the universe and all its bits. Though I can see flaws in 2001, the emotion and erudition displayed in this thread evidences its lasting greatness and contribution to the art of cinema. So thanks spock and contributors and particularly drakepool for that amazing piece of Zeffirelli trivia that I'd not heard, alluding to another brilliant Kubrick artistic symphony that split the critics.
posted by peacay at 2:15 PM on May 19, 2005


I think we have to admit that indiebass is complex. It isn't often that you see someone recommend Koyaanisquatsi and Pauly Shore movies in the same comment.

This thread makes me want to say "I caught you a delicious indiebass."
posted by spock at 2:20 PM on May 19, 2005


Love 2001, love it love it love it. If you can see it at a cinema, go for it, even if you just watched it the night before.

Check out this site out - it's an interesting Flash-movie analysis of the story and imagery, really well done.
posted by ralphyk at 2:32 PM on May 19, 2005


I'm not sure what you even mean, 23skidoo, when you say that '2001' could be important, meaningful, and beautiful, and not be 'good'.

Well, I mean that there are other things to judge a film by, most notably whether or not it keeps the viewer interested. Some people think it does, others don't. But one doesn't have to stretch their imagination very far at all to see how someone could cite "not feeling bored while watching it" as a criterion for a good film, and how someone could think that this movie in particular is boring. And I don't mean that in the sense that every movie that isn't car-crashes and plot-twists is boring, I mean that nothing is happening, and it's happening very slowly.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:56 PM on May 19, 2005


2001 is a brilliant film. I find it not at all boring. It's not meant to be dramatic. That's one of the themes. Human drama pales in the face of the infinite. If it is for some reason stupid or boring at some point do we then blame the director for a mistake? We can't because it is supposed to be that way. The scene is supposed to be that long.
This path of criticism reminds me of the scene in Amadeus where the King tells Mozart to trim his symphony by just cutting a few notes.
The scenes are meant to be that long because they are meant to foster the feelings they do.
Focused consciousness + drawn out quiet time = ennui.
Ennui is close to boredom, but it's the feeling you are supposed to get. The film isn't supposed to be watched as such it is supposed to be taken in in the same way scenery is. One can argue in the same way a visit to the Grand Canyon is boring, do we then blame God/Nature/Etc. for the failure? Men climb mountains to take in the granduer. Others don't. But I'm not going to argue one matter of taste is superior to another, you can like it or not and watch it or not.

Anyway, I thought the future would be more like Dark Star.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069945/
posted by Smedleyman at 2:59 PM on May 19, 2005


Anyway, I thought the future would be more like Dark Star.

~Dark star crashes, pouring it’s light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.
Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving.
Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of good-bye.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?~
posted by schyler523 at 3:10 PM on May 19, 2005


Spock: I am complex, I contain multitudes. I'm like the onion, when you peel away a layer, there is yet another layer. *hold back the barf* ;)

Let me also say I didn't really *recommend* Pauly Shore movies, I just said I'd rather watch any of them than have to sit through 2001 again. ;) You know, i've seen 2001 on the big screen, I've seen it on TV (rented) multiple times and every time I couldn't wait for it to end. And this is the crux of my arguments today. I think a lot of the arguments for the film today have been sort of ad hoc; made up after the fact to justify what was already there. Regardless, no matter what you say about any work of art, it should make you feel *something* and this is what i've been trying to say about 2001: it doesn't make me feel ANYTHING. I don't hate it by any means, I just can't stand to watch it because it doesn't engage me on any level. If it could at least make me hate it, at least it would provoke a reaction. THATS why its a bad movie.

(And for the record its pronounced "In-dee-base". As in 'I play the bass in a band with other musicians'.)
posted by indiebass at 3:30 PM on May 19, 2005


(oops: flagged the first one as a double post)
posted by indiebass at 3:31 PM on May 19, 2005


And for the record its pronounced "In-dee-base".

Let the record so note. **brings down gavel**
posted by spock at 3:50 PM on May 19, 2005


I think a lot of the arguments for the film today have been sort of ad hoc; made up after the fact to justify what was already there.

Indie, I want to see things from your perspective, but this is just... incorrect.

I'm just old enough to remember when the film was released, and it was a huge phenomenon -- as if the psychedelic mindset had produced its first cinematic symphony. (Not that Kubrick was into that -- but 2001 was marketed as "the ultimate trip.") Many people hated the film. Many people loved it and saw it as a huge breakthrough (which it was, at the very least, at the level of special effects). But few people seemed unmoved by it, in either direction. It's not like a bunch of film geeks got together in Seattle in 1987 and decided that 2001 was going to be reframed as the next "significant" artifact of the hipoisie.
posted by digaman at 4:13 PM on May 19, 2005


"Ironically, perhaps, this "ultimate Sixties' movie" remains as relevant to contemporary audiences as when it was first released. 2001 continues to attract large television audiences, prompt often heated debate, delight the eye, provoke the mind. Who could ask more of a film?"
posted by spock at 5:05 PM on May 19, 2005


[removed double by indiebass]
posted by jessamyn at 5:15 PM on May 19, 2005


I understand the mindset that says that a boring film is a bad film... I just don't think it's the right mindset for '2001.' Film is a weird medium, since it contains both brilliant films that are only entertainment and brilliant films that are distinctly not entertainment, but Art. Sometimes there are films that do both--like Vertigo--but they are far and few between. In literature or painting, by contrast, there are very very few works of pop trash that are also "brilliant."

Anyway, '2001' is an 'art' film, not for example a science-fiction genre movie. And so counting 'boringness' against it is kind of like saying that "nothing happens" in Endgame; it's a criticism that misses the mark. The notion that all art must be first and foremost entertaining isn't going to help you appreciate a lot of art.

@indiebass, I totally sympathize with you, and I know that feeling; my job (as a grad student) is to read literature and like it, and there are some books that I just cannot like--for example, Tender Buttons, or Women in Love, or The Faerie Queene. Try as I might these works just don't do anything for me.... But--and perhaps it's more obvious in a literary context--those are great works of literature, and if for whatever reason *I* can't enjoy them, then I'm the worse for it. That's three fewer amazing things for me to enjoy. Back when I totally hated caviar--that was another one, though luckily for me now I recognize that it's tasty.

I'm not saying anything like "YOU MUST LIKE '2001.'" More like: the reason people like it is not because they have been hoodwinked by a giant conspiracy of snobby critics and self-deluded cinephiles.

@tkchrist: That (about real astronauts) is really interesting; I had never thought about that before, and it's totally true.
posted by josh at 5:25 PM on May 19, 2005


Film is a weird medium, since it contains both brilliant films that are only entertainment and brilliant films that are distinctly not entertainment, but Art.

Anyway, '2001' is an 'art' film,

I've never found the distiction between "art" and "not-art" film meaningful. Are there "art" and "not-art" paintings? Music?
I believe that this rather wierd idea stems from a strong anti-elitism -intellectualism and inferiority complex (not you, personally, josh), which automatically supposes that some cultural artifacts are "art", and reserved for the elite, and that jus-plain-folks couldn't understand/appreciate them, and for them there is "entertainment", monster-truck rallies, etc.

"Art-" anything is just a marketing- or commercialization- label, not really relevant to the film itself.
For instance, in the U.S. (and Chile), most Japanes films are automatically labeled "art-", even stuff like Battle Royale, that, while brilliant, is hardly lofty or academic.

Film, like any other art-form, is composed of good and bad works. That's it. It's all art. Just that most of it is crap. The other 5% is Kubrick, et. al.
posted by signal at 5:48 PM on May 19, 2005


I've never found the distiction between "art" and "not-art" film meaningful. Are there "art" and "not-art" paintings? Music?

I dunno; I think it's true, personally; clearly the intent behind, for example, 'Men in Black' and the intent behind '2001' were quite different from one another. One is a commercial film designed to make huge bucks; one is an art film designed to communicate ideas. You could say that 'Men in Black' sucks and '2001' is great, and in a certain sense that's true, but in another sense 'Men in Black' is perfectly successful on its own terms, which are commercial. Same with, say, 'E.T.'

It's true in music, too: Britney, commercial music; Arvo Pärt, art music. Robert Ludlum, commercial novelist; Ian McEwan, literary novelist. Obviously the distinction is not airtight, and there are many folks in the middle, but it is a fair distinction to make, IMO. Kubrick is often one of those middle cases, in movies like 'Clockwork Orange' or 'The Shining'; but a movie like 'Eyes Wide Shut' or '2001' inclines more in the arty direction.
posted by josh at 6:37 PM on May 19, 2005


No doubt the most common complaint against 2001: A Space Odyssey is the ponderous pace of the movie, in particular, the space flight scenes. There is a good reason for this. As Douglas Adams said, space is “Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that, in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real ‘wow, that’s big’ time. Infinity is so big that by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we're trying to get across here.”

To be exact, the distance from the Earth to Jupiter, the destination of the good ship Discovery, is 390,516,260 miles (628,475,000 kilometers.) The largest and most powerful rocket ever built by mankind is the Saturn V. For the sake of illustration, let us assume that the Discovery is powered by the equivalent of the Saturn V’s first stage. Powered by five F-1 rocket engines, the S-IC first stage remains to this day the single most powerful means of transportation ever built.

Having lifted the material to construct your spaceship in orbit, and then having fueled it with at about 4,000 metric tons (8,000,000 pounds) of RP-1 rocket fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX), you strap yourself in and punch the ignition button.

Two and a half minutes later, you have burnt every drop of your RP-1/LOX mixture, and your five F-1 engines shut down. That’s right, eight million pounds of fuel expended in just 150 seconds, producing over 33 million newtons of thrust. Congratulations, you are now traveling at the mind-boggling speed of 30,000 miles per hour (48,000 kilometers per hour.) That is nearly forty times the speed of sound, or more than thirteen times faster than the Lockheed SR-71A spyplane.

But space is huge. Staggeringly vast. So large that the human mind can barely comprehend it. Counting planets from Mercury outward, Jupiter is toward the “middle” of our solar system, and yet in distance is less than a fifth of the way to Pluto. A mere hop-skip-and-a-jump away if you consider the distance to the Heliopause, where our Sun’s rays stop, exhausted by the distance of more than 10 billion miles (16 million kilometers) Oh, and the nearest star? Alpha Centauri is only another two and a half trillion miles (4 trillion kilometers.) That’s 2,541,429,600,000 miles, a number so large as to simply defy comprehension.

So how long, at forty times the speed of sound will it take us to reach Jupiter? Why, only 543 days! That’s right, with your ship’s throttle set to Ludicrous Speed, it will still take you nearly one and a half years to reach Jupiter.

You see, unlike most other Science Fiction movies, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark didn’t resort to trotting out the same tired Deus Ex Machina of “hyperspace” or a “warp drive” to neatly ignore the incredibly vast distances of space. Rather, they chose to illustrate reality, and attempt to convey just the slightest sense of the immense amount of time consumed by space travel. The real excitement of 2001: A Space Odyssey lies not with the launching of the Discovery on its way to Jupiter, nor in the mystery that awaits it at its destination. Rather, it is the very human drama of two souls contained in a tiny bubble of steel, glass and air, trying to keep alive and sane while adrift in the endless black void.
posted by nlindstrom at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2005


"As is Hollywood's way, a director who scores a smash hit gets to write his own ticket--for one more movie at least."

It seems to me that Kubrick did a very brave thing in "writing his own ticket". He could have spent his "currency" on anything, but he chose to do 2001. I find it interesting that it did become commercially successful, because it certainly wasn't mainstream. It seems to me that Kubrick was not overly influenced by commercial concerns, he simply wanted to execute his vision.

I wonder if anyone has any other examples of directors who did something that they felt strongly about (damn the commercial viability of the project) after they had accumulated the capital to "write their own ticket"? Does Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ fall into that category? Any others?
posted by spock at 8:37 PM on May 19, 2005


Does noone take Serious Drugs anymore?

Note: I do not take serious drugs any more.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:02 PM on May 19, 2005


I never loved 2001; I liked it, but I was born in the year it was made, and by the time I got around to seeing it, other things had already, in my 8-year-old mind, eclipsed it. Perhaps I need to see it again.

Digiman, that Wired article really spoke to me. The film I'm working on now is an action feature, but deep down my feelings towards it seem similar to those in the article attributed to Lucas, i.e. somewhat burdened with an obligation to complete something that is not what he really, really wants to be making. But how can you not be into making Star Wars movies? I feel similarly guilty about not being 100% into my own film, because it's not my own, not really.

A high-school friend of mine is working for Dreamworks; I suspect he may have similar feelings.
posted by Poagao at 1:25 AM on May 20, 2005


Regardless, no matter what you say about any work of art, it should make you feel *something* and this is what i've been trying to say about 2001: it doesn't make me feel ANYTHING.

And here is the ultimate point you keep dodging, indiebass, the fact that it doesn't make YOU feel anything doesn't mean it's not a good film. Based on what you've said in posts so far, it only means it's not a good film for YOU PERSONALLY. Since it so clearly makes so many other people (including the massive crowds it had when it debuted... most of them non-'Smart Folk') feel quite a bit more than most of those more conventional films, then by your definition it actually IS a better movie than most. Just not for your tastes.
posted by the_savage_mind at 2:29 AM on May 20, 2005


Kubrick is the most significant and ornate dead end in modern cinema...he is a director who interests people who do not normally see movies. He is most impressive to the uninformed, speculative visitors to the art.

Preparation and shotting for Kubrick are extended operations, with special emphasis on art direction and the engineering of lenses, but with cursory attention to character or narrative.

The point is crucial: cinematic inventiveness must grow out of an attitude to people, and in the form of a preoccupation with the medium.

Grant that Hitchcock is a chilling man, his style fits him perfectly. Kubrick's style, however, is meretricious, fussy and detachable. To see his films is to gain no sense of a man.

The ridiculous labour of 2001, the cavernous sets and the special lenses, ride upon a half-baked notion of the origins and purpose of life that a first-year student ought to have been ashamed of. But this message in a bottle lasts over three hours, and the movie has long sequences of directorial self-indulgence.

One marvels at the trite sensibilities tickled by the use of the two Strausses -- as silly as the effects of some instant TV programme -- amid so much ultimate philosophizing and so many interminable shots of notional machines...

Metropolis is about society and it still resounds with the clash of anger at authority and hope for the future. Beside it, 2001 alooks like an elaborate, academic toy, made slow to seem important and to divert attention from its vacuity. It is the ultmate venture to prove that slow motion guarantees significance...

2001 also made clear Kubrick's defects as a story-teller. This was a real loss, the result of narrative insinct submitting to intellectual pretensions.

Thomson, David. A Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2nd ed. rev., NY: Morrow, 1981, p. 317-318.
posted by drakepool at 4:54 AM on May 20, 2005


Interesting that Thomson gives not a whit of argumentation to back this up except the comparison to Metropolis. Even then he completely misses the point of why Kubrick added the slowness to the film's pacing... something explained in previous posts in this thread. Moreover, it doesn't seem to even enter his mind that 2001 could have a different purpose as a film or as art-engaging-the-senses-and-higher-critical-thought than Metropolis did. The final sentence really says it all:

This was a real loss, the result of narrative insinct submitting to intellectual pretensions.

Thomson hasn't a clue how to critically approach films that aren't bound by conventional attitudes towards narrative. That synopsis of his is laughable as serious criticism, having nothing to back it up except the fact that it's his 'esteemed' opinion.

It doesn't actually differ in any way from indiebass' arguments. Actually, that's not true. indiebass makes an effort to explain the mechanics behind his complaints, even if I feel his logical conclusion is flawed. Thomson can't even waste time to defend his assertion on Kubrick's so-called defects as a storyteller. Apparently it just must obviously be so.
posted by the_savage_mind at 5:47 AM on May 20, 2005


This shaped up to be a nice thread. I've enjoyed it.

My personal opinion about 2001 remains positive.

It's a memorable film, and influential -- to me...

However, I haven't gone to any pains to make my case; I would have to spend a lot of time viewing the film and researching to offer a serious opinion -- and I know precious little about film.

I was kind of just playing tennis ball and knocking ideas around.

To be fair to Thomson, my previous post was not his complete Kubrick entry.

I've had his book for 12 years now...every once in a while I look at it...

It's on 'exhibit' right now by my toilet, and I turned to the Kubrick entry this morning...

Now as for Thomson -- I really only know his work thru occassional glimpses of this old book -- I haven't been too curious about him...

However, one of the first things I noticed about him is he can be unpredictable and severe...

But...he can turn a phrase sometimes...

Heck, I can't find it right now...but I read an entry recently where he explained the rumpled appearance of a young actor was due to the fact he was having fitful sleep...because there were so many young female fans dreaming about him...

Well, here's an excerpt from his introduction...

"...There is a saying that it is dark in the cinema so that others will not be able to see how much we are moved.

This book is unashamedly the work of someone addicted to being thus carried away, but guilty enough to feel the need for accounts of the journey. It is a Personal, Opinionated and Obsessive Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema."
posted by drakepool at 6:36 AM on May 20, 2005


Great thread. I have to admit I winced when I saw there were over 100 comments, but the discussion is at an amazingly high level. I think some of the kudos for that has to go to the late Kubrick, annoying as he so often was, in and out of his movies.

a movie doesn't have to entertain me every fucking second

A-fucking-men. Anyone who makes constant entertainment a prerequisite is going to miss out on some of the very best stuff in life. "Homer? That Catalog of Ships puts me to sleep, man." "Verdi's Falstaff? No arias!" Your loss.

there are some books that I just cannot like--for example, Tender Buttons, or Women in Love, or The Faerie Queene. Try as I might these works just don't do anything for me.... But--and perhaps it's more obvious in a literary context--those are great works of literature, and if for whatever reason *I* can't enjoy them, then I'm the worse for it.

See, that's a grown-up attitude. When we're kids, it's all about us; if we don't like something, it's bad, because We Are the World. If you're lucky enough to become an adult human being, which a lot of people never do, you realize that there's a lot of stuff out there and nobody can take it all in -- each of us is going to have blind spots, some of which may get fixed, others not. I too can't like The Faerie Queene; so much the worse for me. I used to hate Cecil Taylor; finally, thank god, I learned to hear him (through people influenced by him, like Marilyn Crispell) and now I love him. He was great all along -- I was just unable to appreciate it. A little humility goes a long way.

Rather, they chose to illustrate reality, and attempt to convey just the slightest sense of the immense amount of time consumed by space travel.

Yes, and a brave effort it was. That said, I don't think it finally works; much as I appeciate Kubrick, long stretches put me to sleep, and I think it would have made more sense to indicate the immensity of space-time some other way. But Kubrick earned the right to failed experiments.

Interesting that Thomson gives not a whit of argumentation to back this up except the comparison to Metropolis.

He never argues, he just states his prejudices, which are often ludicrous (read what he says about many "foreign" directors). A lot of people love Thomson, and he can be very entertaining, but in the end I can't respect his smug ignorance.
posted by languagehat at 6:37 AM on May 20, 2005


Kubrick is the most significant and ornate dead end in modern cinema...he is a director who interests people who do not normally see movies. He is most impressive to the uninformed, speculative visitors to the art.

Trans: If you like him you don't know anything about cinema.

Preparation and shotting for Kubrick are extended operations, with special emphasis on art direction and the engineering of lenses, but with cursory attention to character or narrative.

Trans: I do not appreciate or chose to understand how Kubrik approached narrative or character (The Overlook IS the main character in The Shining, HAL IS the most human member of the crew) so I chose to point out that Kubrick is nerdy.


The point is crucial: cinematic inventiveness must grow out of an attitude to people, and in the form of a preoccupation with the medium.

Trans: I do not agree with Kubricks attitude towards people (often distanced, baffled but certainly fascinated) and then I refute my last point about Kubrick being a nerd, by saying he doesn't have a preoccupation with the medium.


I can't go on, Thompson is sometimes all right but he's a stiffy with an intellectual axe to grind.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:44 AM on May 20, 2005


People don't think there's a plot because they can only think of plot in terms of individual humans. One could easily argue that the plot of 2001 is the story of the tool, from its humble beginnings to its disastrous fall. Tool is born. Tool in its pomp and glory. Tool overreaches. Tool is killed/shut down. That being said, the three-acter or five-acter is not some sort of natural law of how stories are conveyed. Stories are shaped differently.

I once had sex to 2001... (did I say that out loud?)
posted by Kattullus at 8:04 AM on May 20, 2005


A couple of thoughts...

I'm wondering if the public (in general) really LOVED the movie, or if that assumption was made from the box office totals. There is a difference between people recommending a movie because it is good entertainment and telling others that the simply MUST SEE it. It really was that kind of movie in 1968. There had been nothing like it in looks or content up until that time.

Also, those who say it put you to sleep: Did it put you to sleep in 1968? Or did it put you to sleep after years of being desensitized by the non-stop action of the movies that have come since? It's like saying that a cup of coffee doesn't keep you awake because today you drink caffeine all day long. Give the same cup to someone who has never had caffeine before to judge the true effect. In that sense, it is impossible for later audiences to see the movie as those who lived at the time of its release. Later audiences may or may not appreciate it, but their expectations for the medium have been altered by everything that they have consumed before seeing 2001. As one who saw it back then, I can tell you that there were no audiences going to sleep. The visuals alone were mind boggling.

Finally, Thomson says: "the movie has long sequences of directorial self-indulgence". I'll give him that one. That's part of Kubrick's "writing his own ticket". Good for him. I wish more directors partook in such self-indulgence. The closest thing we get to that today is directors who have earned the right to rerelease a "Director's Cut" of their movie. The problem is, we usually see the Director's Cut only AFTER viewing the theater release, so our opinion may be colored by our pre-consumption of the other work. With 2001, it seems that you GOT the Director's Cut in the theater release.
posted by spock at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2005


I have to say, this MeTa thread should really take a look at this discussion, for those who think all hope is lost. And I don't think we even REALLY got into any of the side discussions which would have been intellectually stimulating as well.

Let me also say, I think part of the problem with me being one of the very few people who isn't lauding the "greatness" of the movie is that people who like 2001 are going to click the discussion link. People who don't aren't going to bother, much less click it and read the discussion. So even though at times I've felt a little whaled on, a nights rest and a little perspective has helped.

Oh, and drakepool: thanks! I have to say I agree with a great deal of that excerpt from Thomson. I cannot agree with divine wino (or "Divino" as I call him)'s translation, again i think you're reading into his words after the fact. Taken at face value, Thomson gets it spot on.
posted by indiebass at 9:36 AM on May 20, 2005


See, that's a grown-up attitude. When we're kids, it's all about us; if we don't like something, it's bad, because We Are the World. If you're lucky enough to become an adult human being, which a lot of people never do, you realize that there's a lot of stuff out there and nobody can take it all in -- each of us is going to have blind spots, some of which may get fixed, others not. I too can't like The Faerie Queene; so much the worse for me. I used to hate Cecil Taylor; finally, thank god, I learned to hear him (through people influenced by him, like Marilyn Crispell) and now I love him. He was great all along -- I was just unable to appreciate it. A little humility goes a long way.

Right, but then you come full circle and realize that if you were wrong about your original opinion about Cecil Taylor, then what makes you sure that your initial assessment of anything is correct, and that includes Pauly Shore's acting, or Uwe Boll's directing, (or if you already like those things, then like, chilled vomit soup.) Maybe you're being too proud about your first impression of these things, too.

For everything out there in the public consciousness that has reached a wide enough audience, you can find a certain amount of people who like it, and can articulately explain to you valid reasons for liking it beyond, "It just rocks, dude." Are you worse off if you don't like ABBA? Or pickled pig's feet? Or fisting? Which opinions are correct? What whispering voices should we listen to, if not our own?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:46 AM on May 20, 2005


indiebass your low level trolling disagreement with the multitudes actually brought out some fine contributions. I was thinking we should take you to MeTa for failing to bleed sufficiently. Maybe next time..
posted by peacay at 11:00 AM on May 20, 2005


23skidoo: you are worse off if you don't like ABBA. That is a fact that has been proven by science. In a laboratory environment. By guys in long white coats.
posted by indiebass at 1:19 PM on May 20, 2005


Apropos, schyler523
posted by Smedleyman at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2005


Indiebass, right you are, not liking ABBA does make one worse off. The Winner Takes It All is probably the most gloriously bitter pop perfection ever made (with the possible exception Go Your Own Way).
posted by Kattullus at 3:20 PM on May 20, 2005


Coming back to this a couple days later, it strikes me that the most annoying thing about this thread is the sheer number of people who still seem to think that if you "get" 2001, then you must automatically love it/think it one of the best films ever/worship it as your Lord and Saviour. I'm very sorry to report that this is not, in fact, true: there are smart people who understood what the film was trying to say, and still thought that, as a film, it sucked.
posted by ubernostrum at 11:50 PM on May 20, 2005


ubernostrum, that's your own assumption, and it's wrong.

You can 'get' it and dislike it. I have no problem with that. I have a problem with declaiming that because one finds it boring, i.e., that it's not the equivalent of a page-turner, it's crap.

That's bullshit. If the people here who dislike the film were actually arguing the merits of the film, if they were saying things like, "I don't believe Kubrick successfully tackled the issue of X he was after because Y and Z," there'd be no real problem. There'd be a debate, sure. That's different.

You post again adds nothing, because you just say 'it sucked'. You don't bother to analyze any of the reasoning behind that. That's the issue most, if not all, of the people you characterize as annoying.

I for one certainly am going to be dismissive of a blanket judgment which makes no attempt at backing things up analytically.
posted by the_savage_mind at 5:22 AM on May 21, 2005


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