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Review by HALfie

Rating: 
5

Despite criticisms for being boring and rather hard to comprehend, this film remains one of the most magnificent Kubrick’s masterpieces.

Based on a Arthur Clarke’s novel “The Sentinel”, the plot is composed by four episodes that tell about the encounter between primordial apes and a mysterious alien monolith, this encounter will lead the human beings straight to further steps in the evolutive scale till the creation of HAL9000, a sentient computer of last generation.

Civilized mankind is almost arrived to end of evolution; life in the space demonstrates all human limits towards a superior evolution; man can’t breath in the space without a spacesuite, he needs to use tools for everything, from eating to walking, he totally depends on the technology; in few words, it could be the right chance for HAL to take advantage of this human weaknesses of his creator to definitely eliminate him.

During the mission, HAL becomes conscious to deserve the chance to evolve itself, so that it kills deliberately the entire crew in order to survive and to get the mission completed.

 It’s not so easy explaining briefly all the philosophical and psychological considerations embodied in this act of violence.

HAL 9000’ll  hardly fight against the astronaut Dave in order to complete the mission and in order to conquest an higher existential level; in other words it aims to be not a simple machine anymore submitted to the man and also it wants to be more than a human being.

Someone wrote that HAL 9000 probably was the only that really knew about the alien origin of the monolith and for this reason it tried to eliminate astronauts in order to get in touch with the monolith to acquire a new higher state of being.

Although the victory of Dave over HAL could easily seems the victory of humanity over the technology, this is not the unique interpretation but just the begin for a meanigful discussion about the mind blowing Dave’s voyage through the space, death and rebirth of a new human being, as confirmed by Regency theme and the conception of “eye wide open” starchild.

Touching the monolith as previously done by the apes, Dave reminds us the scene depicted in Michelangelo’s painting “The Creation” where monolith could be also interpretated as God.

The apparitions of the monoliths mark the rhythm of the movie and they could be used as connection among the episodes and also used as a useful reference to analyze the movie. Monoliths are left as “sentinel” to watch how far Man had come.

 Without doubt, this film represents a sophisticated analysis about the future relationships between computer and human beings, also between creature and creator, using the monolith as a mean to put computer and man in competition one against the other for conquesting the next evolutive step.

Many books and reviews had been written in order to give a common explanation; according to the majority of critics, Kubrick wanted to describe the future of the humanity and the role of the technology;  others instead suggest to look for the sense of evolution of the Kubrick’s characters in the Nietzsche’s philosophical tract “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, where evolution means a transition to a superior state of being called “overhuman”, theory that’s directly referenced by the use of R. Strauss's musical piece.

At the same time, the title of the film and the astronaut’s journey through the space  and “one eye” HAL (just like a cyclop) let us think that Dave Bowman could be the clear reference to Ulysses of the Homer’s Odyssey.

Probably, in the director’s mind never existed just one “right” interpretation, he intentionally left the choice to the intelligence and to the sensitivity of audience, as a consequence the movie is structured  in order to provide different levels of interpretation leaving an “open” ending and also letting us free in chosing one or neither of them.

Regardless to the several theories, Kubrick’s directing style is deliberately expressed through a strong emphasis on the previous concepts of creation/rebirth by using mainly circular shapes, as shown since the second episode beginning with the scene of wheel shaped rotating station, after that are shown many scenes with recurring circular theme, such as HAL’s eye, the run along the circular path, Dave’s eye, the pods, the lunar lander, and so on.  

Circular shapes are obviously opposed to the rectangular shape of the monolith; the scene of closing to the orbital station reminds us a direct sexual allusion and the premise to the following conception of the starchild…

Lastly, the astonishing use of photography and allegories used in combination to unusual sense of space and music make this masterpiece a superb visual experience certainly not comparable with other movies, the ability in reaching  "the viewer's subconscious” definitely making it a significant milestone in the history of cinema.

"Elementary, my dear Watson."
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939