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2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

So much has already been written and said about 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY ($25), that there is nothing original that I could write here to describe this marvelous science fiction film. The film is a journey into both outer space and the inner space of the human mind. Even after thirty years 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY still remains as thought provoking a work as it was when it was made. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is a brilliant collaboration between the imagination of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and the vision of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

The film opens with its outstanding "Dawn Of Man" sequence that shows our primate ancestors taking the first steps to becoming sentient beings after encountering a strange black object that is later referred to in the film as the Monolith. The "Dawn Of Man" sequence is my favorite part of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY because it is an utterly brilliant piece of cinema. Kubrick says so much without a word of dialogue; the images, music and the editing are simply phenomenal at conveying their message. From the "Dawn Of Man" sequence, the film segues into the future on a single cut. This simple edit has become one of most famous transitions in the history of cinema- taking the viewer directly from the Stone Age to the space age.

The main body of the film centers on the first manned trip to the planet Jupiter aboard the Discovery spacecraft. The mission to Jupiter takes on a number of strange priorities after another Monolith is discovered buried under the surface of the Moon. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY stars Keir Dullea as astronaut David Bowman and Gary Lockwood as astronaut Frank Poole. Bowman and Poole are in charge of the mission to Jupiter, while the supposedly infallible HAL 9000 computer (voiced by Douglas Rain) controls the spacecraft itself. During the course of the flight to Jupiter, something goes horribly wrong. The HAL 9000 becomes at first irrational, and finally homicidal.

Despite the HAL 9000, Dave Bowman is able to reach Jupiter where he encounters another Monolith that forever changes him and the destiny of mankind. The conclusion of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY leaves its audience with more questions than answers, however the ride is well worthwhile. Thanks to Stanley Kubrick's vision, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY proves to be a timeless science fiction film that is as brilliant today as it was when it was released in 1968. Not only does the story and director's vision hold up, so do the film's special effects which remain nothing short of astonishing.

For the DVD release of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY MGM Home Entertainment has deployed dual layer technology to present the film's extended running time as well as the supplements. MGM offers 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY on DVD in a very good looking Letterboxed transfer, which unfortunately does not include the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. I find the lack of the anamorphic enhancement to be completely perplexing since 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is one of MGM's prestige films. If the important films don't receive first class treatment, which films will? Other than the lack of the anamorphic enhancement, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY looks phenomenal on DVD. The Letterboxed transfer is crisp and highly detailed. Color reproduction is quite good. Flesh tones appear natural, blacks appear quite solid and overall the colors are well saturated without any real trace of noise or distortion. Digital compression artifacts were never overt.

The soundtrack for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY has been upgraded to a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix. No, it isn't a "knock your socks off" mix, but the soundtrack has a strong presence and all of the classical music used on the film's soundtrack benefits from being presented discretely, as opposed to being in a matrixed track. Reports on the Internet indicate that 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is missing a single line of dialogue, since I have not memorized the film's entire screenplay, I can only pass on the reports at face value. Other soundtrack options include a French monaural track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The interactive menus feature sound and animation and offer access to an interview with Arthur C. Clarke from the film's original release, plus theatrical trailer's for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and the sequel 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT.

 
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 


2001 - A Space Odyssey (1968)

 


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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