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A matter of existence

April 18, 2011 7 comments

This is the last post in this opening trilogy about 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Let’s take a minute and observe something about the monolith. Each appearance of the monolith triggers a jump in man’s evolution. Man discovers the tool, reaches the Moon, then Jupiter and the beyond. It is very interesting how the first two monoliths work. The second one, the one on the Moon, just sends a signal towards Jupiter and man just follows and the first one just exists. It does not use any mechanism or supernatural power to teach primitive man how to use tools. What happens is that faced with this unnatural object, that stands out in a purely natural landscape, the ape man realises that objects can be created, that there are ways with which one can manipulate matter. It’s the monolith’s material existence that triggers this next step in man’s evolution. And how do we interact with matter? What sense gives us the certainty that on object is indeed there? By reaching out and touching it.

Also, before the Stargate sequence, Bowman approaches the monolith in the little utility pod. It looks like this.

It almost looks like a baby with little arms. Babies always reach out and grab whatever is in front of them, it’s a basic human instinct.

Speaking of babies…

The famous closing shot

So, after these three posts, we can draw the conclusion that, by hiding a monolith in the opening , Kubrick marks the movie as having a similar role to the monolith in it. That’s not that much of a big surprise considering it’s content.

Anyway, time to move on to other movies for now.

(Also check out this parody of 2001 I once did)

Categories: Stanley Kubrick

And then there was the second shot

One of the ideas behind this blog is to get people interested in movies they haven’t seen yet. So, for those of you who haven’t seen the Space Odyssey, here’s a shot from the movie that is not a black screen.

The opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

And for those who have seen it, what I was suggesting in the previous post is that the black screen at the beginning is actually a Monolith. Just look at proportions of the monolith. They match the aspect ratio of the movie.

And if you are still not convinced:

Note: I did a bit of reasearch and the original aspect ratio of the print is 2.20:1, the aspect ratio of the 35 mm print is 2.35:1 and the aspect ratio of the Blu-ray I took the stills from is 2.22:1.  In the book, the dimensions of the monolith are 1x4x9 feet. Those translate into an aspect ratio of 2.25:1.

Categories: Stanley Kubrick

And then there was the Shot

April 12, 2011 3 comments

Opening shot of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"

What’s that you say? The opening shot of 2001 is the Earth and Sun rising behind the Moon ? Not a black screen? Hmm…

 

When people think of the opening shot of  A Space Odyssey they usually think  of the famous shot that comes in right after the MGM logo: the Moon, Earth and Sun align while we hear Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra. They usually ignore the first 2 minutes of the movie  that appear to be a black  screen over the sound of an orchestra warming up.

But what if it’s not just a black screen ?

Try tilting your head or your monitor. Do you see it now ?

And since we are talking about an opening shot in the opening post of this blog, why not have a look at Jim Emerson’s Opening Shots Index ? According to him (and others), the opening shot is one of the  most important shots in a movie because it tells you how to view to movie, how to make sense of the actions that follow.

So, given what we just discovered above, how does it change the way we watch A Space Odyssey?

(Fun fact: Strauss means ‘ostrich’ in german)