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[personal profile] krpalmer
I had been thinking about getting myself a DVD of 2001: A Space Odyssey for quite a while, but had never quite got around to it. Waiting paid off in its own way, though, as I was able to get a new release including an extra disc of documentaries (which I've managed to watch one of so far) and a commentary track with actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood (which I haven't listened to yet, even as I wonder how much two mere actors as opposed to film historians and special-effects technicians can say about the movie). I also know this release is matched by releases in both "high definition" formats, but to watch that I would have to buy a new TV and choose a side in the ongoing format war.

It's been a while since I watched 2001; the last time I recall doing it was renting a widescreen videotape from a well-appointed video store back when I was in university. Returning to the movie, I was ready in advance to conclude that its special effects hold up after approaching four decades in a way that no other "pre-digital" movie can manage and distinctively different from any "post-digital" movie... and yet, I did wonder if the front projection that provided the backdrops for "The Dawn of Man" and a very few of the first model shots above the Earth drew attention to themselves for me. Still, it looked better than the Star Wars "Vintage Editions" did for me (as much as I do still sometimes wonder if different source materials could have made those DVDs look different). On the other hand, I've heard that 2001's special effects took a great deal of time and money to make.

After all these years, the ambiguous critical reactions of the time of release I've seen some of have pretty much faded, the movie endlessly referenced in culture at large, and yet at times I've wondered about 2001 having been "appropriated" by certain groups. It always seemed to be the one single mere science fiction movie that fans of written science fiction would condescend to declare as worthy of the name, although Blade Runner seemed to have its supporters. (Nowadays, I do wonder if "Firefly" and Serenity reside in those exalted surroundings... although I can also wonder if that particular kind of text-centred snobbery even exists any more, if because the circles I follow have changed somewhat.) The movie also seems to me the darling of those who complain about its future not having arrived on schedule and have their rogues' gallery of villains and incompetents to blame for it... and yet, while it may just be a peculiar form of sour grapes for me, I can think back to some of the more perceptive period reviews I've seen and wonder if Stanley Kubrick (as opposed to Arthur C. Clarke) saw his filmed future as inevitable yet not necessarily a thing of unalloyed greatness. I've often seen it commented that the human characters in the movie are more "mechanical" than Hal the computer, and I've noticed how nobody seems to enjoy looking out the window or weightless conditions (although that may be more an artifact of not being able to film many scenes on wires). I've contemplated the thoughts of others that humanity may be as in need of being moved to "the next step of evolution" as the man-apes of "The Dawn of Man" were... (And, in watching the movie, I began to wonder if the potential link between whatever the monolith represents creating humanity and humanity creating computers like Hal has been pointed out. Arthur C. Clarke wound up presenting what became of Dave Bowman as very much the assistant of the powers behind the monolith; I started wondering if he would have things of his own to say about that... and how successful he would be at that.)

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