Solving the Puzzle of the “2001: Space Odyssey”

In early June a group of immigrants and newcomers watched “2001: Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick as part of the American Values Through Film workshop at The English-Speaking Union’s New Immigrant Center.

English in Action tutor Peter Rosenblatt is behind the idea of selecting this film. He presented the film’s storyline and context to the audience before the screening. The group had a conversation afterwards about “2001: Space Odyssey” – the film that puzzled, awed, amazed and encouraged the participants to research the film background. Here are some of the thoughts the participants shared.

Nyi (Myanmar): On the day we watched this movie it didn’t make much sense to me,  and it was hard to understand, but  if you think more and look into the storyline closely the idea of the movie becomes very interesting. It shows human imagination, intelligence and what would happen in the future. If I was at the time, I could say impossible but now all the technology we are using today looks the same as the technology in the movie: people had that imagination long time ago. As Peter explained the story, beginning with apes who had no intelligence, and then, after touching the monolith, the apes started thinking and began changing the world. I can imagine at the time of this movie the world did not yet have such technology you can see today but now everything has changed.  This movie is a good example to show you a proof of what people were thinking for the future is really happening today.

Cindy (China): I think ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ is a film that is uniquely made. Its imaginations are fresh to me still today, but many ideas are beyond my knowledge. Maybe I can understand it more years later…

Vladimir (Venezuela):  I think this movie represents the evolution and continuous change of the human race. The big stone represents a point in the time that mean a change. In other words it is an evolution and the creator of the movie presents this change with the stone. I’m convinced of this because the man who went to infinity through the lights, he then got a lot of knowledge and went through evolution, then he died but later reborn again to begin a new life cycle but at a more advanced level than our own human race. Every time a big change occurred the stone was involved in it, because that stone represents evolution.

Christine (Togo): ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ is a film that made me think about the impact of the space technology and the role of the  technology in general on an individual, on the human being and on the earth. Is it good to give such a power to the robots in general? What will happen if one day the machines or the robots done by an engineer refuse to perform their duties and start on their own?  I did not understand the end of the film where an infant was shown, but I liked the film in general.

Maya (Russia): I think ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ is a very complicated film. Thanks to Peter Rosenblatt and to the participants of the discussion I understood something of what the film was about. At the same time it inspired my curiosity, and I made a plan. First, I am going to learn more about the process of the creation of this movie. For example, I would like to know what forced Stanley Kubrick to make this film, what was in his mind at that time, and what he wanted to say to human beings by releasing it. Second, I am going to read Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”, as the screenplay was partially inspired by this story, and also to read “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Friedrich Nietzsche, as Kubrick was greatly influenced by this book (according to Tanzilya). And finally I will watch the movie again, as it contains strong magnetic power for me now.

One Comment on “Solving the Puzzle of the “2001: Space Odyssey””

  1. In September, “on the 20th and 21st they’re screening Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the score performed live by the Philharmonic. We’ll open the pod bay doors for that, if you know what we mean…

    According to the Philharmonic’s spokesperson, this will be the first time 2001: A Space
    Odyssey has been screened in its entirety with live orchestra in the United States. From the press announcement:

    Celebrated for its technological realism, innovative and Oscar-winning special effects, and bold use of music, the film brought worldwide fame to both Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and the music of György Ligeti, including Atmosphères, Lux aeterna, Requiem, and Aventures. In one of cinema’s most memorable images, a spaceship floats serenely through space to the strains of Johann Strauss II’s On the Beautiful Blue Danube. Silence is also a key component of the film; the Orchestra will remain onstage for the entire screening, highlighting Kubrick’s strategic and eloquent use of both music and silence in storytelling.”

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