axmanoj’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is for Lise' HAL's birthday thing so obviously spoilers below.
I started this viewing wide awake as I work nights. Because I prefer to watch films especially like 2001 in a state like the ape with it's eyes barely open; ready to receive the film as if it were a vision, I cracked open my aged bottle of Firestone & Walker Anniversary XVIII. Despite the %13 ABV of the drink I ended the film only slightly inebriated.
The Dawn of Man sequence feels as if set on a John Ford soundstage. It is primordial but involving,and above all beautifully visual.
The screams and hum of the past that marks the arrival of the monolith has the affect of imprinting on the brain that this is not the first time the monolith has appeared on earth.
The monolith reminds me in some ways of The Judge from McCarthey's Blood Meridian; an omnipresent force of the culminated evil which resides in mankind.
What the hell happened to Pan-Am?
Wow that shot in the debriefing with the American flag inside a black monolith! The whole debriefing scene feels like a mystery film's procedural moment.
The ship that they use to travel the moon has a sinister look to it, like everything in this scene. This scene reminds me of deep sea explorers searching for Atlantis and Giant Squid at the same time, a veritable Atlantis of Giant Squid citizens.
When looking from the outside, human trivial conversation is hilariously drab and stupid.
I love how all scientific jibber goes out the window when they approach the monolith.
The monolith is a mirror that absorbs rather than reflects.
The scientists look to the sky just like the apes.
Are they being added to by this discovery or are they having themselves stripped away with a screeching noise?
Annnd my wife interrupts the film, isn't marriage lovely?
...12 years later...
Now she's showering...did I mention we have a small apartment, where sound travels easily?
...24 years later...
Holy shit the hibernator things have a vibrator button on them!
While being exposition, the scene where they are watching the BBC perfectly connects the characters including HAL, making him more human. He watches the broadcast the same way the astronauts do.
Geez Bowman way to shame HAL about not being human!
HAL's voice is perfectly melancholic, as if he wishes to be human, a great Pinnochio figure.
The way Bowman draws the hibernators' feels like it is a scientific procedure, like checking temperature or steering the ship. The point being,this venture is much more philosophic than Dr. Haywood's. At this point the journey really takes the outright Odyssey format.
Those pods are embroyonic, a veritable womb before Starchild actually appears.
HAL watches like the 9 year old he is as they inspect the antenna box, he knows he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Douchebag humans are looking on at HAL's failure like they are the ones that are perfect beings; HAL says the same thing back to them, "human error".
The great two faces looking at each other with HAL in the middle might be my favorite Kubrick moment. But holy hell what an ominous intermission!
This is a battle much like those of the apes, two sides of sentient life-human and machine. Who will win? More importantly who should win?
Frank is basically an abortion; he is an incredibly sad figure floating among the space reeds. Did HAL deem Bowman a worthy opponent?
Bowman looks skeletal as he tries to get back in the ship. He jettisons Frank's corpse, giving up pleasantries and arguably dignity in favor of his own survival.
Dave getting into the emergency airlock might be the best man vs nature moment (outside of Herzog) ever. And that fade from HAL's eye to Bowman's face in red light is absolutely amazing and loaded with implications. Dave Bowman is the logical and worthy successor to humanity, a survivor at all costs. "I'm afraid".
Next I won't even try to transcribe my thoughts of the final act.
I think...and that's the key for any impression of this film...I think the monolith represents perfection. The monolith is the perfection which we never can touch, either by our actions or quite literally touch with our fingertips. HAL is an imperfect striving for duplication of imperfection, mankind is probably the same. The ghosts of the past wail in a voice of both warning and enticement. Will you ignore them or listen? Or is the whole endeavor fruitless? I don't know.
David Bowie probably did.