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a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968), starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood and William Sylvester.

Per IMDb: “Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.”2001_a_space_odyssey_1968_theatrical_poster_variant

The film opens with the dawn of Man and shows the sudden appearance of a strange monolith among the ape-like creatures. And, soon they discover how to use large bones as weapons and tools. They defend themselves and conquer other tribes. Then all of a sudden, the cut scene shifts to 2000-2001 where Dr. Heywood Floyd (Sylvester) is on his way to an American moonbase where there’s a mysterious discovery that has been placed and hidden rather deep on the moon’s surface. It’s a monolith, just like the millions of years before that. When the sun and Earth lined up over the monolith, a ear-piercing shriek emits from it.

Eighteen months later we see Jupiter One on a mission to get to Jupiter. On board this ship, there are 5 scientists: Dr. David Bowman (Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Lockwood) and three in cryogenic hibernation. Also, and most importantly, there’s a Heuristically programmed Algorithm computer named HAL9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain).”Hal” as he’s known, is in charge of almost everything that is mechanical on the ship. He believes that his line of computers is “foolproof and incapable of error.” Hal is an early example of Artificial Intelligence, using rational thought and decision making, even expressing emotion.

When Hal is shown to be less-than-perfect, he does anything he can to protect himself and his mission, or is he? It could be that he’s only following programming orders and is placating the humans to make them more comfortable? To get these and more answers, you’ll have to watch the film. Perhaps you’ll get it, perhaps you won’t.

I have stated before and will again that I’ve never done an illegal substance, not even smoked pot, but after watching this (for about the fifth time), I walk away wishing that I had; either while watching or afterward to bring my brain back from mush. Basically, it’s a story about evolution, although my primitive brain had a hard time grasping that, at first. It’s the way it’s told.

This film is classic Kubrick in that the visuals are larger than life. It’s really in that, the visuals, that are the full story, here. In fact, there’s no dialogue at all for the first 30 minutes or so. When there is dialogue it’s very minimal. There’s enough to get you familiar with the relationship between Dave and Hal. The visuals are important, too, with the special effects. It’s highly regarded as the best special effect in cinematic history, at least by most “in the know” people. Every single thing that happens in the film is done on film and not a single bit of CGI. Just Kubrick genius.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was very into true space science and was hailed as prophetic in his description and depiction of humans in space as well as with futuristic (at that time) ideas such as videoconferencing and calling. Remember this before we went to the moon, it was 1968. Man’s only knowledge of outer space, at the time, was the astronauts and cosmonauts in rockets and other spaceships.

Sound is also very important, not only in what you hear (or don’t), but the use of classical treasures such as “Blue Danube” Johann Strauss II and “Also sprach Zarathustra” from Richard Strauss which most people know as “2001: a Space Odyssey” theme. The score creates tension and is the true storyteller of this film. Fantastic stuff. I will say that if you’re watching this film in surround sound, the sound effects and computer sounds are quite intense and also quite loud; be warned.

2001 was No. 15 on AFI‘s 2007 100 Years … 100 Movies (22 in 1998). The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Director, Screenplay, Art Direction and Visual Effects, winning the latter. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 94% Fresh with an Audience Score of 89%. IMDb has it at 8.3 stars out of 10. It is available on DVD.com and it can be viewed free on Amazon Prime, it is available to all Prime members. I own it on Blu Ray and watched it there. I rate it 4.25 stars out of 5; I highly recommend it. Have you seen it? Do you agree? What would you like to see/hear me review?