May 23, 2012

2001: A Space Odyssey

I watched this movie last night with my wife and a couple of our friends. It was mostly their idea, but I've wanted to see the movie before, I just never got around to it until now.

What I experienced wasn't exactly entertainment, it was more like a poem. A really slow, sometimes awkward piece of science fiction that tugged and gnawed at my brains, willing me to understand it's deeper meaning.

Spoiler alert: it's about man's inherent curiosity, or at least that is one aspect of it. Another is this: evolution started by a catalyst. Everything in the film moves very slowly, and very deliberately. Each scene is shown for a reason, and in each scene something happens that is extremely important to the story. But, whenever the Space Monolith comes into view, things quickly speed up. Basically, Humankind, throughout the ages, has evolved. Sometimes very slowly, other times in quick bursts of activity.

This is documented historically. I'm not saying that I solely believe in Evolution as the answer to our origins. I do believe that we were created by God. However, evolution has occurred more than once to us. But that is a discussion for another blog post some other time. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, mankind develops and learns whenever it comes in contact with the monolith.

The first time, it is the Apes (descendants of man) who come into contact with a Monolith, and learn how to use tools.

The second time is on the Moon, where a Monolith is uncovered and they learn that man is not alone in the universe.

The third time is when Dave finds the Monolith near Jupiter, and learns that the next step in human evolution is to transcend humanity. To become what is known as the Star Child. Seeing everything as a child does. Which is to say, we should always look at the world, and all things in it as a child does. Full of hope, curiosity, and surprise.

One could argue that there are a whole slew of other themes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and they'd be right. There's also the question of A.I. (artificial intelligence) and it's ethical consequences. If a fully fledged A.I. were created, would it not be as precious as human life? HAL 9000 depicts a ethical and moral battleground of sorts for robotics. Is it right to create life, even artificially, and then take it away arbitrarily?

I don't know the answers to those kinds of questions, and I would never presume to know them in the near future. I can only speculate that eventually we will have robots capable of feeling and acting like humans. What then? Will they have the same rights as humans? Who can say?

All in all, 2001: A Space Odyssey was interesting. At the very least, it had incredible cinematography. The acting was 'Meh' but hey, it was made in the late 60's. It's impressive because it was made even before Alien and Star Wars. If you watch this film just once, you will instantly see how it has effected cinema and television alike ever since. I'd hazard at saying that much of this film inspired the future of technology too, and you'll see why if you watch it.

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