2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), directed by Stanley Kubrick.

I first saw this as a boy at the River Hills in Des Moines, Cinerama and still the finest theater I have ever known. (It's long gone now; an ice arena occupies that spot). I don't know what it would take in home theater to replicate that astounding, immersive, wide screen experience. Certainly not any display I will ever have in my little viewing space.

But I also remember thinking: the Space Bros take him beyond infinity and then feed him broccoli? That's cold.

They are so alien they might as well be angels or gods. With the wailing chorus we approach mysteries and dimensions beyond our comprehension. Our first encounter with the monolith produced upright meat-eating killer apes. The second encounter produced...what? Yes, I read Clarke's book long ago, but the movie is more Kubrick than Clarke. 2010 (1984) is more like Clarke.

We took a child to this once and the killer ape sequence disturbed him for a long time. He did not expect animals to behave that way. It has always made me suspect that a real encounter with alien intelligence would not be a happy one.

We go from the ape-men fighting at the water hole to Dr Floyd and the Russians sparring at another watering place on the space station. As a kid I never wondered why Dr Floyd had two spacecraft all to himself, nor did I notice what a villain he seemed to be, with his security oaths and kiss-ass colleagues on the moon base.

The space station seemed so real at the time because of all the commercial logos. It was a new look.

The chief attribute of the human race in the space age seems to be lying. The first words Bowman and Poole exchange are lies.

Quite properly there is no sound in space, so Kubrick gives us the breathing noises of the men in their suits.

I'm always startled that the deactivation of HAL is so moving. After that all guiding narrative is dropped and we are on our own. Was Dave able to contact Earth? Does he have new orders? What's he trying to accomplish when he goes out in the pod? Who delivers his meals and changes the linen beyond infinity?

A film this strangely paced either loses you, or you somehow submit to its internal clock. I felt the same way about The Passion of the Christ.

It has various astronomical (and geometrical!) errors; no point in worrying about that in movies.

Available on Blu-ray and often on sale. I saw what looked like tiles or brush strokes in the sky at the Dawn of Man.