How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love “2001″ – Part 2



Two day ago I saw the BAM Cinematek in Brooklyn would be playing 2001: A Space Odyssey as part of its “Big Epic Screen” Series and said to myself it’s now or never. Those who know me know that going to the movies is my absolute fave thing in the world and I thought that maybe if I saw 2001 on the big screen it’d finally click with me. I feared that it wouldn’t and that I’d still be out of the Kubrick loop and I also feared that I’d be ecstatic about it, making my younger self feel like a shallow dumbass (but hey, isn’t that what all the classics are supposed to do when we approach them as grown ups?). More –


Watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen was unlike any other movie experience I’ve ever had. For once, I was immediately absorbed into its world. The way in which Kubrick plays with sound before we’ve seen a single image reminded me of the way in which we sing a hymn before mass begins. The movie is preceded by a pitch black limbo in which we listen to György Ligeti’s “Atmospheres”, this was especially interesting to feel as part of an audience. Watching it at home it’s impossible to control external sounds (dogs barking, younger siblings nagging, bells ringing…) but in a movie theater people seem to know they need to be quiet. Sitting in a dark room surrounded by strangers sharing this same experience was almost mystical. For those who think the movie is about the history of humanity, this small moment of darkness was like conveying non-existence. We are born until we listen to Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and see light for the first time.


This feeling is repeated during each of the film’s four chapters, in which we are convinced we are being reborn as more complex creatures. The scenes with the monkeys and the first appearance of the monolith once again filled me with childlike wonder and joy, but this time around by the time I got to space with the characters, I felt a strange sense of accomplishment – as if I’d helped them get there. The last part of the Moon mission chapter also conveyed something I’d never detected in the film before: that final high pitched sound we hear as the astronauts approach the monolith seems to be a desperate cry towards the universe, as if asking why the hell are we here?

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