Wednesday, July 26, 2006

2001: From A 2006 Perspective (UPDATED)

Director Stanley Kubrick would have been 78 today. I saluted The Master this weekend with a viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, arguably his most groundbreaking film.

It's amazing some of the things that the 1968 film anticipated, including personal in-flight entertainment via seatback screens, video-phones, voice recognition technology and commercial spaceflight. Of course, Kubrick didn't do this alone. He had a team of science and technology experts to help him craft his vision.

Whatever advisors Kubrick had, he can't be blamed for failing to foresee that Pan Am Airlines (the film's featured commercial spaceliner) would collapse or that the panty line would practically, um, disappear by the 21st century due to innovative underwear design.

As far-seeing as any work of art can be, the notion that everything is a product of its own time is absolutely true.

Take for instance, the clothes in 2001. The men wore tapered-leg business suits that were pure Beatles circa 1965 - which just happens to be when the film was beginning production. Some women wore bright pink dresses and caps that were so Jackie O.

One could argue, of course, that fashion styles are cyclical, and therefore Kubrick may have been suggesting that by the time 2001 came around, mid-60s fashions would once again be in style. Hip-hugging jeans
, for example, were popular with young women in the 70s and are popular with them once again. But I honestly think this was simply a (rare) oversight on Kubrick's part.

The gender roles also stood out. Aboard the commercial spacecraft the flight attendants were all women - women who served meals to all-male crews and business passengers. This film was made in the day when "stewardess" was a glamor profession, and apparently Kubrick didn't envision female pilots or business professionals.

Still, the film was amazing, and not just for its very accurate view of then-future times, but for its filmmaking innovations. New types of flashy special effects were developed specifically for the film, and kept the hippies coming back to the theatre over and over again. And Kubrick supervised many scenes on the film's set via a television monitor, a practice that is now industry standard.

In narrative terms, 2001 is unique. If you showed up after the opening titles you might think you'd walked into the wrong film; the first 20 minutes or so show early ape-like men learning to subsist by killing and by seizing territory from their own kind. The paradox,
and the film illustrates this extremely well, is that these things represented progress for mankind. Hardly typical sci-fi fare, this.

In the film's final episodic sections (2001 is a deliberately paced 2.5 hours, with very little dialogue - clearly not a product of today "fast cuts" culture),
man ultimately has to use his primitive instincts to reign in technology of his own creation before he can progress (evolve) any further. That's deep, man.

As the adage goes, they don't make 'em like they used to.

I'm going to have to pour a 16 out on the curb (that is, drink a pint down at the local) in honor of the birthday boy. Stan was the man!

PB knockin' back a G for Mr. K

13 comments:

Jack K. said...

Thanks for the reminder and the comments. Include my admiration as you pour a 16 at the curb.

Aunty Belle said...

The Guinness Guy pours a pint...at Sadly No?...yep, Kubrick was prescient.

Bird said...

i'm just freaked out by the strange appearanceof the comment section. it's completelydifferent.

what the heck happened? geesh!

Bird said...

ok - now it'sback to normal and no one has any idea what i'm talking about, eh?

hal did it, i'm sure. he's setting me up.

Pete Bogs said...

my mind is going... I can feel it... I can feel it...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

stanley's the man all right. Freya would make the observation that HAL is the space equivalent of Frankenstein...the monster we created with a knowledge we didnt have full understanding of.

whats interesting about 2001 is the cool detatchment it seems the human race has evolved/devolved into. theres no spark even to the end....also is the sparse dialogue...i like that SK doesnt feel the need to over explain

i recently saw barry lyndon for the first time and though it was on the verge of boring it sure was gorgeous and oddly compelling

but the shinning is my favorite. it. is. so. beautiful.

the scariest though? full metal jacket. unless you are talking about SK's career, then eyes wide shut is the scariest.

/grrrr

Jack K. said...

Eyes wide shut was fantastic.

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

jack: id love to hear your review of EWS.

/grrrrrr

Pete Bogs said...

glad some of you guys like Kubrick...

k9 - I couldn't finish Barry Lyndon the first time I watched it... but it's grown on me over time... favorite scenes include the father-stepson duel and the naughty card game between cousins... oh yeah, and the fact that some of it was made in Ireland... I went to Powerscourt, where a few scenes were filmed... eventually the IRA scared Kubrick back to England - no joke...

jack - I love EWS... I'll have to dig out my 1999 review of it sometime...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

after the comments on EWS and more to the point your comment on barry lyndon, i remember that kubrick movies get better every time you watch them. i am going to try EWS again someday. i heard the dvd was better cause kubrick made concessions to get the R rating. and, for some crazy reason, i dont like tom cruise! you know who stanley orginally wanted? steve martin!!!!

/grrrr

Pete Bogs said...

k9 - it took me 10 years to appreciate Full Metal Jacket... then it just clicked in somehow... it's amazing... anyhow, nice to see us agreeing on some things! lol

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. thnx!
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