2001: A Space Odyssey is an outstanding achievement in special effects. Space travel is captured in its ambition and physics, the size of a spacecraft and the forces of gravity or lack off. But accompanying that is the films ability to direct attention toward its message. Despite being open to interpretation, there is a profundity about it.
It begins with the dawn of man. How apes sit. How they find a water source and fight over it until one is killed by another using a bone. The bone becomes a tool for hunting and survival. But what is that black monolith standing there? And why are they in complete awe? Centuries into the future, in an age of space shuttles and interplanetary colonization, an ambassador is being sent to a space station crew to discuss a potential epidemic. He keeps details classified and instead explains how the message should be publicized. That they shouldn’t reveal the presence of a black monolith with its hypnotic effect in one of the colonies. Then in outer space, Hall 9000 commandeers a vessel with five passengers. At some point, the two pilots lose faith and decide to shut Hal down. But Hal is able to deceive them into leaving the ship. One of the pilots is able to get inside and deactivate Hal. And inexplicably, the scene skips to another endeavor of the pilot driving a small pod through a kind of portal that cuts through laws of time and space. He ends up in a room furnished with 18th century furniture and ages dramatically.
Very few films have an abstract quality like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Shot by cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, its pictures tell the story. The special effects are masterful. There is off course some dialogue. Its three stories come with characters, motivations, and action. But notice the periods without dialogue. How the silence, music, or sound effects are effective. Or how the three stories differ from one another, but share a common thread. A bleak view towards mankind.