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2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)
In this surreal sci-fi classic, a mysterious black monolith appears on Earth in prehistoric times, changing the course of human evolution. When it reappears on the Moon in 2001, astronauts embark on an ill-fated interplanetary voyage to discover.
For more about 2001: A Space Odyssey and the 2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray release, see 2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on November 12, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Douglas Rain, Leonard Rossiter
» See full cast & crew
2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray Review
The Magnum-Opus of Science Fiction comes to Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, November 12, 2007
Stanley Kubrick is probably the most iconic director to ever make movies. A virtual recluse by nature, his films were almost as mysterious as the man, himself. 2001: A Space Odyssey's release on Blu-ray disc (along with the remainder of the Kubrick collection), is an important landmark for the format. These are some of the most obsessed-over films of all time and surely will find new life on the Blu-ray format.
2001: A Space Odyssey begins with a lengthy musical suite that perfectly sets the mood for this bizarre tale. You'll be treated to a blank screen during this musical opening, but fear not, there will be splendid visuals coming in a matter of moments. "The Dawn of Man" segment shows us a few snapshots from the lives of a group of primitive apes. One day, they encounter a strange, black monolith that has appeared out of nowhere in their small world. Days after the encounter, one of the apes seems slightly changed as he suddenly gets the idea to use animal bones as weapons. The apes appear to be evolving. Thanks to one of the greatest edits in the history of cinema, we then flash-forward a few thousand years to the year 2001. After another encounter with the black monolith, we settle into the main body of the film that takes place aboard the spaceship Discovery on its mission to Jupiter.
Aboard the Discovery, we are introduced to Astronauts Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood). They sit in boredom on their lengthy mission and perform their daily duties with the assistance of the talking supercomputer HAL 9000 (Douglas Rain). Through the use of news broadcasts that the astronauts view, we are informed that the HAL 9000 is the most complex computer ever devised: "he" thinks, controls the ship, plays chess like a master and has never made a single mistake. When HAL incorrectly predicts that a component on the ship will fail, causing an unnecessary and dangerous spacewalk for Poole, it seems clear to the astronauts that something is wrong with HAL. I'll stop right there for those of you who haven't yet seen the film.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a very slow film. Don't let that scare you, though, as this film is deliberate in its pacing and the very nature of its length allows the story to develop in a much more robust way. All of the standard Kubrick signatures are here, the high shots of characters peering up and under their brows, the phenomenal classical score, the absolutely astonishingly beautiful cinematography. What's not to like? Add to that one of the most deliciously, confusingly captivating stories ever told and you have the very definition of a classic. If you've never seen the film, you owe it to yourself to do so immediately. For those like myself who have seen it many times over the years, 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to age like a fine Bordeaux. It gets richer, more satisfying and more obtuse with every viewing. See it again, for the first time!
2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray, Video Quality
First, a few technical notes: 2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed in 70mm in the 2.2:1 aspect ratio. The film was shown around the country in various Cinerama theaters, projected onto huge, curved screens. Probably for this very reason, Kubrick chose to give the film a very crisp and clean cinematographic look. Fortunately, these technical choices, made forty years ago, render 2001: A Space Odyssey stunningly on Blu-ray. Having seen the film on several occasions in 70mm, this Blu-ray presentation is very much consistent with how I viewed the film theatrically. The film has a very clean, almost sterile look. Much of the film takes place in entirely white or black environments with the odd spacesuit providing a welcome splash of color in many scenes. However, there are a number of vivid sequences that feature an abundance of rich color. The opening "Dawn of Man" sequence seems to have been shot entirely at magic hour. The resulting shots are beautiful and really show off this discs flawless handing of color. Just about every scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey looks as though it could have been filmed yesterday. The print is flawless and the images are truly spectacular. This is a must own title on Blu-ray and is the very definition of reference grade.
2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner has provided a wonderful 5.1 Uncompresed PCM soundtrack on this Blu-ray release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is famous for its use of perfectly selected pieces of orchestral music. From waltzes to more powerful, esoteric works, all of the music is beautifully reproduced. The full orchestral soundstage is well represented here, with instruments places precisely in the mix. Most of this particular mix is heavily front-loaded with only the occasional ambient noise coming from the surrounds. Dialogue is beautifully reproduced with HAL's strange timber resonating well. The heavy breathing the dominates the spacesuit scenes is more haunting than ever in PCM. So, while you shouldn't be expecting for a mix similar to what you might find in a Star Wars film, what 2001 gives us, is an elegant mix that adds to the experience of this incredible film.
2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
-Commentary with Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood
-"2001: The Making of a Myth"
-"Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick"
-"1966 Kubrick Interview Conducted by Jeremy Bernstein"
-"What is Out There?"
-"Vision of a Future Passed"
-"A Look Behind the Future"
-FX and Early Conceptual Artwork
-"Look: Stanley Kubrick"
First up to bat, in this excellent supplementary package, is the Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea commentary. Both men are very entertaining to listen to and share quite a few anecdotes from the set. "2001: The Making of a Myth" is a very in-depth British television documentary that goes into quite a bit of depth on the film. "Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick" is also a nice puff piece which explores the impact that 2001 had on subsequent generations of filmmakers. "What is Out There," "Vision of Future Passed," and "A Look Behind the Future" all cover the areas of scientific aspects of the film and how things have and haven't shaped up the way the film predicted. The definite crown-jewel of this set is the previously unseen "1966 Kubrick Interview Conducted by James Bernstein." For a confirmed Kubrick nut like myself, this was just a fantastic addition. Kubrick rarely spoke to the press and this interview lets the viewer in on how the man actually was. This is great stuff! Finally, we have the FX and Early Conceptual Artwork feature as well as "Look: Stanley Kubrick". The latter is a simple photo gallery of many of Mr. Kubrick's photographs from Look Magazine while the former is a nice feature regarding the changing look of the film as production progressed. All in all, this is a pretty remarkable set of supplements that had this Kubrick fan thoroughly entertained!
2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the great classics of cinema and it is a most welcome addition to the growing library of Blu-ray releases. I'm a huge fan of the film, personally, so this was a release that I've been eagerly anticipating for quite some time. Fortunately, this Blu-ray release from Warner doesn't disappoint in any way. The film has been given the utmost of attention and the resulting video quality is of reference grade. Audio is also similarly spectacular, if not slightly limited simply by the film's age. Warner has also really opened up the vaults with the disc's excellent supplementary features. In the end, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a must own title on Blu-ray and this Blu-ray release earns my highest recommendation!
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