2001: A Space Odyssey: Movie Analysis

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2001: A Space Odyssey is now widely acclaimed to be revolutionary, but the reviews upon its release were more divisive. Aside from the special effects, which were universally praised, many aspects of the film evoked wildly differing responses from critics, ranging from being “an unforgettable endeavor” (Gilliatt) to “immensely boring.” (Adler) A common complaint was the lack of an exposition, which made the film more confusing to some. To those critics, the homonymous novel by Arthur Clarke was a godsend, a treasure trove of information that the film was so reluctant to provide. Now that the critical reception of the film has stabilized, it is due time for a reevaluation of the novel. This paper examines the characteristics of each medium and…show more content…
Every film must make a trade-off between information density and visual density. A higher information density means more narration and in-depth storytelling, but this might cause the film to be less immersive and intellectually unengaging. Movies with lower information densities are more abstract and artistic, with a bigger focus on the audiovisual aspects of the film. Because the footage is presented without explicit explanation, these films provide the viewers with an opportunity to think about the significance of each scene. Films with lower information densities are analogues of short stories, and those with a bigger focus on exposition are comparable to novels. In this sense, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey is like a short story. The distinction is more apparent when compared to a heavily narrative-driven movie like Star Wars. While Star Wars begins with a literal “wall of text,” not a single line of narration is spoken in the beginning of 2001. Cryptic scenes like the "Dawn of Man" sequence and ending are presented as is, leaving the audience to decrypt their meaning themselves. Each scene in 2001 is like poetry: both visually beautiful and thought-provoking, resonating with the viewer in a way that transcends language. As Kubrick (1968) himself put it: “I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an [sic] emotional and philosophic
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