Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be exploring the movies of highly acclaimed cinematic visionary, Stanley Kubrick, following the recent release of his box-set and special editions of 5 of his most talked about movies.
This will include details (and opinions) on the extra features and screen captures of each film.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
I had never seen this film until recently, and had heard much about it, how it had influenced countless films such as Star Wars, and was ground breaking in its visual effects. Having now sat though this gently paced ‘space opera’ I can see where many fans and critics were coming from – this is still one of the most eye-catching and visually hypnotic films I have ever seen. How some of the sequences were pulled off, when at the time computer-generated effects were in their infancy, boggles the mind – but even by todays standards, this still amazes.
What story there is (and believe me, the story is only a small part of the appeal here) revolves around a foreboding, black seemingly-alien obelisk first revealed millions of years in the past at the dawn of man, which somehow influences the next part of evolution among a group of apes. Cut to the future and outer space where we join a space expedition to Jupiter. This moment also treats the viewer to one of the most mesmeric sequences in cinematic history as space ships, astronauts and classical music are woven together in the most beautiful and enchanting way I could have ever imagined. Now so not to spoil things I wont go into too much detail, but I’ll just say that much of the plot revolves around a ship’s computer named Hal that begins to malfunction, threatening the crew on board. Now since this film was released, such an idea has been done countless times – but probably not as well as here, as 2001’s slow burning, perhaps dragging pace certainly creates a feeling of unease and dread, that adds endlessly to the rather simple story. I hate to think how it might have been if the pace was moved up a few notches.
Now to give an opinion on 2001, as with much of Stanley Kubrick’s work is really hard as it doesn’t play like any other movie, and much mystery, with subtle hints to its meaning with no real answers, and the ending, although uplifting and rather brilliant, is also strange and creepy. Still, this is still a bench mark in motion picture history, and in that respect alone, despite it not being to a modern-movie fans usual taste – truly deserves the legacy its achieved. I enjoyed it more than expected. Thats not to say everyone would.
The two DVD set just released (3 March 2008 in UK) also available as part of a new box set, is jam-packed with documentaries, interviews with cast and other film makers (most notably George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron), as well as a commentary by actors Keir Dullea & Gary Lockwood. This all shapes up to be a worthy salute to an admired classic of cinema, and proves very informative and fascinating throughout – with some appreciated archive footage.
The film itself is presented digitally-remastered in anamorphic widescreen with 2.20:1 ratio and the picture is sharp, despite showing some grain in places – still, it comes over as a treat for the eyes regardless of age. Sound wise its in 5.1 and is another treat for the ears, especially during the classical music sequences.
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