Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

2001: A Space Odyssey


Again, my review from my Top 25:

One of only two science fiction films on my list, and the only movie I’ve ever seen that was virtually a religious experience. I’m not talking about the psychedelic ending, though that was marvelous, like every frame of this film. No, the awe for me began with the first chords of Also Sprach Zarathustra, that little bit of music by Richard Strauss that has since become such a cliché but which I was hearing for the first time, with the curtain still down in the Golden Gate Cinerama theater in San Francisco. The woofers made the whole theater vibrate. Something was moving on the screen as the curtain rose. It was the moon, very close. And then the sun burst out, behind the rising Earth! I was crying. I’d been dreaming of this scene since well before Sputnik. Praise Kubrick! Shout out the holy name of Clarke!

With the state of SFX in movies today, it’s hard to explain to a new generation the shattering impact of seeing, for the first time, what outer space would really look like. I sat in awed puzzlement, like everybody else, as the apes discovered the black slab, learned to kill, wondering how Kubrick got monkeys to act so well. Then the ape threw the bone in the air and there was the famous 3-million-year cut in 1/24th of a second … and that’s when the hallelujah brother! really began. That’s when I saw Jesus, as it were, that’s when I watched in helpless ecstasy as scene after scene took me into a world that I had imagined many times, reading books, or simply daydreaming, but had never seen! Can I hear you say Amen!

My understanding is the first showing of 2001 left most of the critics scratching their heads, many of them hating it. Kubrick went back and cut seventeen minutes. I would give a lot to see that uncut version, because the only thing I didn’t like about the movie was that it ended! I left the theater and wanted to turn right around and go back in, but I couldn’t, because the line was too long. Many of the people in line were already glassy-eyed. Myself, I was never even tempted to get high on acid and watch it. The movie supplied its own acid.