Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays

Synopsis

Almost all students have seen 2001, but virtually none understand its inheritance, its complexities, and certainly not its ironies. The essays in this collection, commissioned from a wide variety of scholars, examine in detail various possible readings of the film and its historical context. They also examine the film as a genre piece--as the summa of science fiction that simultaneously looks back on the science fiction conventions of the past (Kubrick began thinking of making a science fiction film during the genre's heyday in the fifties), rethinks the convention in light of the time of the film's creation, and in turn changes the look and meaning of the genre that it revived--which now remains as prominent as it was almost four decades ago. Constructed out of its director's particular intellectual curiosity, his visual style, and his particular notions of the place of human agency in the world and, in this case, the universe, 2001 is, like all of his films, more than it appears, and it keeps revealing more the more it is seen. Though their backgrounds and disciplines differ, the authors of this essay collection are united by a talent for vigorous yet incisive writing that cleaves closely to the text--to the film itself, with its contextual and intrinsic complexities--granting readers privileged access to Kubrick's formidable, intricate classic work of science fiction.

Excerpt

Robert Kolker

I first saw 2001 in 1968, on a gigantic Cinerama screen in a London theater. I was overwhelmed by the images and only somewhat impressed by what the images were trying to tell me. I left frankly questioning what all the fuss was about. On subsequent viewings, in slightly more intimate surroundings, on smaller screens back home in New York, the film began to grow and grow on each successive screening. Each viewing opened up more questions and more answers—and even more admiration. 2001 became one of the touchstones for my love of film and a major factor in my desire to make the study of film part of my intellectual life. I realized, as I would with all subsequent Kubrick films, that it is a kind of double, triple, quadruple play, revealing more meanings on each viewing—and more mysteries.

On its initial release, 2001 was advertised as “The Ultimate Trip,” a smart appeal to the counterculture of the 1960s. It was played for its spectacle and the psychedelic quality of the images that make up the “Stargate” sequence near its conclusion. But it was, of course, another film entirely, a deeply serious, richly textured, enigmatic, meditative spectacle of a film, so complex and so unyielding in its answers that its cowriter, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, wrote “novelizations” to try and explain it. Kubrick himself, with the . . .

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