Analysis Of 2001: A Space Odyssey

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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…
All semblance of subtlety is lost, replaced with patronizingly explicit descriptions. No longer is the reader required to wonder about the monolith’s identity, as the novel spells it out to be an ancient alien probe guiding the evolution of intelligent life. The ending—arguably the film’s highlight—is reduced from a constant subject of discussion to an open-and-shut case. The underlying story is intact, but 2001 was never about the plot. It was about questions meant to be solved by the audience, not the creator. 2001 the novel is a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces glued together, a Sudoku grid already filled out, which defeats its own…show more content…
The space race was heating up when 2001 was released, and enthusiasm for space exploration was greater than ever. The film’s realistic portrayal of space travel as a mundane activity was a subversion of expectations—the belief that space exploration would be exciting. Clarke (1968), as a veteran science fiction writer, resorted to more clichéd depictions of space travel, using phrases like “a feeling of wonder and awe” rather than those of fatigue and boredom. In addition, the melodramatic prose throughout the book makes it unpleasant to read, particularly in the absurdly long and vapid “Dawn of Man” section. Here, Clarke makes no attempt to hide his reverence for technology, and ham-fistedly attempts to impose the sentiment on his audience. Dr. Floyd, who gushes praises at every piece of modern technology, is an especially egregious victim of his psychological projections. As a result, the book feels like an uninspired, cookie-cutter science fiction
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