This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
EthanWicks’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
2001: A Space Odyssey is regarded as the 3rd best movie of all time, according to theyshootpictures.com. To justify such a lofty placement, they note that the film utilizes every shot presented as a valuable tool to tell the story. Since every shot is crucial, the film does not need to spend extra time explaining the story; the viewer is assumed to be able to use their imagination to process every lingering shot to understand the story. I was fascinated throughout the entirety of the film. Due to the endless suspense boosted by the lack of “time-filling” dialogue and superb special effects, I believe this film was ahead of its time and has earned such a high spot in their rankings.
The film centers around a space mission gone awry when the accompanying supercomputer, Hal, goes rogue and sabotages the crews attempts to reach Jupiter. The crew is following a radio signal sent by a black prism called a “monolith” that was found buried in the moon’s surface. The first 20 minutes of the movie shows ancient hominids in Africa discovering a similar “monolith”, which is implied to have given them the ability to invent bone tools.
The style of the film felt like a silent film and a documentary. Over 20 minutes of the movie had passed before there was any speaking. Not only did the silence help me understand the story, it allowed for a larger build-up of suspense. The film at times also felt like a documentary about living in space. Many long scenes detailed ships docking to stations in a way that felt very realistic. In contrast to long, deliberate shots, a couple of quick montages helped increase the level of action. For example, before Hal flings an astronaut into space, a few shots of the computer’s unblinking eye were shown in rapid succession before you see his body cartwheeling into the abyss. Another filming technique I appreciated was the camera retaining its original perspective as crew members walked around sideways and upside down. Multiple scenes showed astronauts running vertically in circles around the perimeter of a chamber in artificial gravity while the camera stayed put.