“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”
Dave was intent on dismantling HAL. And HAL knew it. And I was watching with intensity. Would Dave be successful turning off the murderous computer?
We were seated in the RKO Theater, a 3200 seat Cinerama screen in downtown Boston to see Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odessey. And we were there to celebrate my sixteenth birthday. Not since Lawrence of Arabia had a film captured my imagination and inspired me with awe.
From the opening music and the first frame there is an interplay between the two, the music enlivening the image and the image in return amplifying the music. The iconic image of the shuttle lining up to dock in the space station waltzes in my memory still. The film moved at a walking pace. You had time to think about what you were seeing and hearing. You would form a question, and then succeeding images would fill in your answer – what was that stewardess doing? Oh yeah, she was changing her up/down orientation in order to enter another area, where the old up would be the new down. The bits and pieces coalesced together to tell a simple story, expanding ever outward as more people were introduced into the quest of seeking the source of the monoliths.
I think I had more questions than answers by the end of the movie. Many viewers did. Some points went over my head and other subtilties were missed on my part. Further viewings, or in my case, reading the Arthur C Clarke short story upon which it is based, filled in the missing pieces.
It is a great film to reflect on, and I have done so over the years (I even wrote a short story in college inspired by the film, that I will put up on the blog soon). At its base the quest of the movie is the search for the creator. It is ironic given the materialistic, evolution driven world view that is its foundation gives off a spiritual vibe. But then again, in a way it makes sense. When you don’t take God at His word about who He is, you “create” God in your own image, limited by your own understanding.
On another note – or reflection – 2001: A Space Odessey marked a great divide. Before it came on the scene, entertainment in the US was filled up with stories of the old West, many stories that never happened. Now with this switch to sci-fi, we are multiplying stories that will never be.