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2001-Photo Collage
Your September 2006 UMC Results Are In!

Tagline: Let the Awe and Mystery of a Journey Unlike Any Other Begin

Preshow Entertainment: THE NEW SHOW

Doing a write-up for a monolith of a movie like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is a bit daunting. So here's my attempt, littered with spoilers and interpretations. Cue the music.

Like many of you out there, I've seen this movie more than once. I'm still not sure I get the whole thing, but with each viewing, I get more out of it. In fact, I think I enjoyed 2001 more this time than ever before. So much so that I feel like watching it again right now.

During the screening I kept thinking, If they made 2001 today it would be six minutes long. Then I realized, in another director's hands, even back in '68, it would have been 6 minutes, because really, there's about that much plot. But Kubrick, who I am only now realizing may very well be the genius people claim he is, has taken an ordinary piece of paper and fashioned a swan. It's not a movie, it's a symphony. A ballet. A vision. It's nearly untouchable. If only moviemakers today would reach out and touch the Kubrick monolith and receive the knowledge that they don't have, instead of making movies that hit you over the head and have Nicolas Cage making funny faces.

There's no doubt the impact that 2001 has in pop culture. Can you be alive without knowing the famous music (Also Sprach Zarathustra)? Is it in Guinness for most parodied moment? And of course, there's also the famous computer, HAL 9000 (just one letter away from IBM).

This is a film that begs to be studied. It moves at a snail's pace, yet breezes by. We watch a pod land and descend on a platform...for minutes. No quick cutting here, we witness the whole process. This happens a lot, yet it's never really wrong. It's all part of the grander picture, which ironically is what the theme of the movie is all about.

The characters act like real people. They speak like real people. When one astronaut is floating away in space, the rescuer jumps in a pod and goes after him. There's none of that macho, "I'll save you! You better not die!" crap. It's just a guy doing exactly what he should do. It's in his action. It's in his eyes. It's in his head. And so are we.

Okay, I've stalled talking about the plot long enough. I think this is what happens.

Divided into three segments (Dawn of Man, Jupiter, Beyond the Infinite), it tells the foggy and abstract fable of Man and his conquest not of space, but of himself.

It's the Dawn of Man. Ape families fight for their turf. Unable to kill the animals they co-exist with, they resort to eating grass. And...they lead a boring existence. Until-

A mysterious rectangular monolith is spotted by one of the apes. Curious George Touches a Monolith. And with that, they gain the knowledge that brings them into the next phase of development- they learn to use weapons. Now they can kill beasts for food, and better yet, rule and dominate.

Years later (in the year 2000), displayed through one of the best shot juxtapositions in history (a bone thrown high in the sky by an ape cuts to a spaceship), another monolith is found on the moon. It's been there for 4 million years, planted 40 feet below the surface for us to eventually find. The intelligent life that put it there uses it as a trip-wire alarm, if you will, presumably placed at the same time as the Dawn of Man monolith. When it's excavated, the sun rises on it for the first time, setting off the alarm- an ear-piercing sound that they learn was aimed at Jupiter. It's time for Man to move to the next plane of his existence. And that happens 18 months later, during-

The Jupiter Mission. Two astronauts (Poole and Bowman) and three "asleep" ones, are on the spaceship. They eat, play chess, jog, make calls, and even tan. Man, like the apes, is once again leading a boring existence. Man is done. He has nowhere to go.

HAL 9000
But a funny thing happened on the way to Jupiter. HAL 9000, with his pleasant voice (on a screen, the Mission Control guy speaks like a robot, while 2 inches away HAL talks more like a human), seems to have made an error. Poole and Bowman are well aware the 9000 series has never made an error. Something is wrong. In secret, they decide it's safer to abort the mission. But HAL's programmed to reach Jupiter at any cost, and he has also learned to mimic humans (and this includes emotions). So fearing his own demise and instructed to go to Jupiter, HAL kills the 3 hibernating crew members, and Poole while on his spacewalk. His attempt at Bowman fails, and for that, Bowman deactivates HAL. It's a harrowing death scene. Even angry Bowman towards the end seems to feel the emotion, as if he were euthanizing a puppy.

Alone in space, with maybe no chance of rescue, we next see Bowman in a pod, heading for Jupiter, and...

...Beyond the Infinite. Bowman travels through a light show (the film was marketed as "The Ultimate Trip"...remember, it was the '60s). It's his journey to the next stage. When over, he finds himself in a very white room with furnishings out of the 1700s, the white pod sitting there as if it were a piece of furniture. Still quivering from his ride, he looks out the window to see...himself, but older. We now lose Regular Bowman, and follow Old Bowman, who again sees himself, this time even older. We lose Old Bowman and follow Really Old Bowman, as he sits for his "last supper" of bread and wine. When Really Old Bowman looks at the bed, we lose him and get Really Really Old Bowman, dying on his bed. He points to the foot of the bed at: The Monolith. Then, he metamorphoses into the "Star Child", which moments later floats in space, nearly the size of the Earth.

Man has taken the next step in his evolution. Now, maybe Bowman understood what was happening, because he was there, and it happened to him. But we only get a cursory glimpse, which serves to confuse and confound us. But that's the trick. It's supposed to. We're not meant to know the exact details. We can't. We are not there yet...we can't grasp that right now. Many find the lack of a pretty bow on
this package to be jarring. And being conditioned moviegoers, they're right. But when you take a step back you realize- you're not getting ripped off...you're THINKING ABOUT IT.

Then there's the little details. There's so much to ponder, I sometimes find myself looking for meaning in places there may not be any. Like syncing THE WIZARD OF OZ with DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, a lot is simply accidental. But just how much?-- "Was that a spermatozoa swimming in space?" "Is the pod supposed to look like a human face, symbolizing Man and technology merging, and foreshadowing HAL?" "And is the shot of HAL (through the pod window) with a spacesuit hanging behind him, looking like a man standing up with a computer in or as) his heart again tech merging?" "Did his pen drift from his hand to also show Man losing his grip on the technology he created?" "Does the monolith only work when all the planets align, or is that image just there so we recognize it when we see it again?" "And what of all those 'birthing' visuals (pods, phallic ships, the Star Child)?" "Was Bowman's experience supposed to parallel HAL's- they both slowly died, and were reborn as children (Daisy, Daisy...)?"

Kubrick's use of silence (to eerie degrees in THE SHINING, to complementary effectiveness against the large classical soundtrack in 2001) is nothing short of stunning. And riddled with eye-popping yet graceful visuals that surpass nearly every movie made since, 2001 is a spectacle that begs to be seen on a big screen, or in HD (yay!).

As the humans in the movie, we Earthling movie watchers are too primitive to understand exactly what happens at the end. But there is one thing this primitive human is sure of- the sequel, 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT, sucks ass.

Preshow Entertainment: THE NEW SHOW

This was Lorne Michaels' 1984 answer to SNL. Unfortunately, we only got to watch 12 minutes before the pizza arrived (we started late). We saw a few bits, including (a dubbed) Ronald Reagan introducing the show, host Penny Marshall doing that new type of dance seen on the streets of NYC (breakdancing), and an installment of The Frightened Family (a family scared of everything...their hair standing up as they scream). I'll write up more in October, when we see the rest.

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