2001

I notice that 2001 is #22 on the AFI list. Various blog posters have it on their top-five sci fi lists. Just a quick post here to ask why.

Disclaimer: I write here only of my subjective reactions to the movie. No absolutes. No measure of Kubrick as visionary or master filmmaker. If 2001 is your favorite sci fi flick, I’m down with that. I don’t expect everyone to respect my favorite movie as the #1 of all time, not if they aren’t into horses and the young girls who ride and feed and groom them like I am. Because one day that girl grows a little older and loses interest and then you’re stuck with half a ton of knickering, piebald… but I digress.

I haven’t watched 2001 in several years, but I’ve seen it more than once and I do have my lasting impressions. Perhaps, given the adulation enjoyed by the film, I’m forgetting something important. I saw the film in Boston in 1968 when it came out. Played at the Cinerama. Might have been the first movie shown there. Prices jacked up, I remember that. We sat in the balcony. Course, we didn’t know that we would be watching THE #22 MOVIE OF ALL TIME when we went. There was more interest in the whole Cinerama thing, which as I recall turned out to be no big deal.

Anyway, the movie… Did I use the word “visionary”? I’m just remembering here that it’s 2010, as I write. In 2001 I was still driving my ’67 VW with the sunroof. But the trip to Jupiter required that we find the black thingee on the moon and, well, we didn’t go back to the moon. In fact, x percent of Americans don’t think we ever went to the moon in the first place; twas all a hoax. So instead of the Jupiter trip and HAL, we get Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush, Clinton, and Bush (“Let’s go to Mars, right after we finish with Iraq.”). And a head of NASA who thinks that it’s presumptuous of us to consider our current climate as the best of all possible climates. But whoa. I’m going to pretend that the movie’s title is 2101, just to give myself a little room here. And 2010 can be 2110, for those who dug the sequel.

Anyway, I settle back in my seat and we get the cavemen and the black thingee, and then the bone tossed in the air and it turns into a spaceship, and right there I’m annoyed. I wanted more ape. This is it? A little ape and black thingee and we’re done? And btw, what happened to that black thingee? It’s buried out there somewhere? What would that thing bring on Ebay? Did I mention that I read Arthur Clarke in paperback (Ballantine Books) back in the 50s? He was ok, more than ok, but a little staid. Childhood’s End, as I recall, had a great cover. The covers were almost as important as the books, back in the day (my fave companies: Bantam, Ace, and Ballantine). Anyway, we don’t just leave the apes, we get the Strauss waltz music and flight attendents (in 60s stewardess mode). The reality: 2007, Southwest Airlines, a tiny bag of greaseless peanuts.

Then another black thingee but nothing really happens. The Cinerama has worn off. Did I mention we were up in the balcony? My girlfriend at the time… jeez, by now she’s a grandmother. I don’t think she cared that much for the movie either, but who knows? I was too self-centered to care what she was thinking about it anyway.

Ok. HAL. Finally. A gay voice like that was totally unusual in the 60s. A breakthough of sorts, except that his breakup with Keir was a little heavy. Holy Cow! Keir played a senator in The Good Shepherd. Still working. But anyway, lbgt was all code back then. Pulling those circuits out, one by one. Homophobia at its worst.

Don’t get me started on that light-show thing. Went on forever. Checking my watch. Those colors wouldn’t have passed muster in The Wizard of Oz.

And then the ending, which Clarke hated, and still hates (in heaven).

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