Review of “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Review of “2001: A Space Odyssey(ˈädəsē)”

By Roger Ebert

The genius(ˈjēnyəs) is not in how much Stanley(ˈstanlē) Kubrick(ˈko͝obrik) does in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but in how little. This is the work of an artist so sublimely(səˈblīmlē) confident that he doesn’t include a single shot(SHät) simply to keep our attention. He reduces each scene(sēn) to its essence(ˈesəns), and leaves it on screen long enough for us to contemplate(ˈkän(t)əmˌplāt) it, to inhabit it in our imaginations. Alone among science-fiction(ˈfikSH(ə)n) movies, “2001” is not concerned with thrilling(ˈTHriliNG) us, but with inspiring(inspiring) our awe(ô).

No little part of his effect comes from the music. Although Kubrick originally commissioned(kəˈmiSHənd) an original score from Alex North, he used classical recordings as a temporary track while editing the film, and they worked so well that he kept them. This was a crucial decision. North’s score, which is available on a recording, is a good job of film composition, but would have been wrong for “2001” because, like all scores, it attempts to underline the action – to give us emotional cues. The classical music chosen by Kubrick exists outside the action. It uplifts. It wants to be sublime(səˈblīm); it brings a seriousness(ˈsirēəsnəs) and transcendence(ˌtran(t)ˈsendəns) to the visuals(ˈviZH(o͞o)əl).