2001: A Space Odyssey - An Appreciation Of SortsWednesday, July 11, 2012
2001: An Appreciation of Sorts.
When Alex asked me to comment on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I was initially reluctant. The upcoming local screening at The Planetarium will certainly be welcome by movie buffs and nostalgic futurists alike. But what could I possibly add?
Since its initial release in 1968, the film has been widely – and deservedly - praised by a legion of esteemed film critics. Thanks to that brilliant classical score and the kind of bravura filmmaking that reaches all the way back to the silent era for inspiration, its reputation has only grown over the years. No wonder The Moving Arts Film Journal voted it the greatest film of all time as recently as 2010.
Still, my appreciation of Kubrick’s masterpiece goes beyond anything you’ll see on the screen. Thanks to the neurotic coils fixed deep within the heart of HAL 9000, it was one of the first films to make me leery of computers – thereby justifying a lifelong mistrust of machines in general. (The first was an episode of the Twilight Zone entitled From Agnes - With Love and starring the great Wally Cox. But that’s another story.)
If you haven’t seen 2001, I won’t spoil things by going into detail about HAL. (Voiced to monotonous perfection by the classically trained Canadian actor Douglas Rain.) I will simply say that – in the last forty years or so - I have never been able to hear a distorted answering machine without thinking of dear old HAL droning that he is “foolproof and incapable of error.”
Among other things, 2001 is a timely reminder that all forms of mechanized advancement come with a corresponding measure of technological retardation. Recently, I had the eerie pleasure of hearing a synopsis of my novel read by a computer- generated voice. It made HAL sound like Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas. Thanks to 2001, my skepticism toward such things was already fully primed. And, for that, I will always be eternally grateful.
Author John Lekich is a film critic for the Georgia Straight.
Johnny Tomorrow, The Planetarium - 2001: A Space Odyssey