Monday, July 27, 2009

2001 A Space Odyssey

"Hello Erin. Would you like me to sing a song?"

Why, dear readers, does cable programming play the same movies over and over again, quite often on the same day? Why, I ask you, why?
By that as it may, for this week's Movie Day Erin and I thought it would be a good idea to show Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, 2001 A Space Odyssey. Let me tell you why.
Several months ago, during our basketball session of the Drama Free Support Group, the question was asked of all the participants, what is your favorite movie?
I do not believe my lovely case manager, Erin, was able to come up with a definitive answer, her mind overloading over all the possibilities. I, however, replied, "Two thousand one, A Space Odyssey."
"Oh, I should probably watch that then," Erin stated.
That was a very nice compliment she paid me by expressing a desire to watch my favorite film, even though she had no idea what it was about. Paul had not seen it either. I shouldn't have been surprised as the movie was released 16 years before Erin was born. Still I have an intense desire to spread my interests throughout the known universe.
Accordingly, I made a DVD of 2001 for Erin, and gave it to her to watch at home at her leisure, which she gladly accepted, while stating she was, "very excited to watch it."
Young people though quite often don't know, or do what is best for them, preferring to carry on with their own provincial interests and agenda, rather than mine. Over time it became alarmingly clear that Erin had not yet seen the movie, preferring to watch reruns of Arrested Development and The Office, or worse... animated feature films.
After months of heated effort a compromise was struck and it was decided that 2001 A Space Odyssey would be shown last Friday, July 24th, at our new Movie Day time of 2:00.
One problem became apparent as Movie Day rushed toward us. Lovely Erin could not find the DVD.
I energetically checked out a copy from the Central Library, here in downtown Los Angeles (I even got to hear an audio interview of Kubrick made in 1966, I had not heard previously, on the Special Features disk), thus saving the day. We both decided to blame the missing DVD on Erin's lovely roommate, Leah, who obviously ran off with the disk in order to watch it in secret, thereby maintaining her reputation as a non-fan of science fiction.
Finally Movie Day arrived. Erin and I were both "very excited," (that's what happens when one gives up alcohol and drugs, you can get "very excited" about almost any f - - king thing) about watching it. At two o'clock on the 24th, she appeared magically with bags of microwave popcorn and cold sodas. There were about six others present to watch the film (or just to get some free popcorn and soda), and we were ready to go.
Unfortunately, someone who remains unknown had managed to screw up the big screen television set in the lobby so a connection with a DVD player could not be made, and forcing us to use my small 13 inch portable color TV instead.
Now 2001 is a grand, majestic film, with a sound track that is vital and vibrant. It is most suited for a wide screen theatrical presentation (Indeed, I first saw 2001 at the then Cinerama Dome, the landmark movie theater in Hollywood, which is now the Arclight), not a television screen, especially not a inky dinky little 13 inch TV in which the volume sound control is exceptionally limited. Still, we gave it a shot.
Wikipedia tells us that 2001 A Space Odyssey has been ranked number 22 on the American Film Institute's list: 100 Years... 100 Movies. Number 40 on their 100 Years... 100 Thrills. It is included on their 100 Years... 100 Quotes: "Open the pod bay doors, Hal." Hal has been listed #13 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heros and Villains. It is the only science fiction film to make the Sight and Sound poll for ten best movies, and tops the Online Film Critics Society list of greatest science fiction film of all time. It was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in their National Film Registry. Other lists the film appears on are 50 Films to See Before You Die (#6), The Village Voice 100 Best Films of the 20th Century (#11), the Sight and Sound Top Ten Poll (#6), and Roger Ebert's Top Ten (#2). In 1995 the Vatican named it one of the 45 best films ever made.
Still I had predicted our small audience's reaction fairly accurately (Except for Erin, who maintained an active interest through the whole movie, changing seats once in order to remain alert in the warm lobby, probably in deference to me, rather than genuine interest in what she was watching), boredom. Statements such as the following were common: "Rick (during the Dawn of Man sequence, which did spark a lively debate concerning creationism vs evolution. Most in the audience preferring creationism (Erin did like the little chimps that were used to portray the proto-human's babies, and I don't think she liked HAL, calling the 9000 series computer, "manipulative")), there are going to be people in this movie, aren't there?" Or, "There's not a whole bunch of talking in this, is there?" And the ever popular, "What the hells going on!?" At some points three of the remaining audience members (whose numbers climbed and ebbed periodically) besides myself, Erin, and one other, were so engrossed that they expended all of their available energy and had to take a nap, heads flung back in their seats, some snoring appreciably (prompting a rare admonition from Erin, who loudly clapped her hands, stating, "No snoring at Movie Day!").
Finally, as we approached the end of the film, and throughout the "Jupiter, and Beyond the Infinite" sequence (which I must admit has always bothered me a tad. How can one be beyond the infinite, when the definition of infinite is without boundary), my favorite reactions were from Erin herself. "I have no idea what is going on," she stated while watching Bowman proceed through the Stargate, and my absolute favorite, while watching the Starchild approach the Earth, and Thus Spake Zarathustra presents itself for the third and final time, Erin, I believe a bit frustrated, said, "If this ends like this I'm going to shoot myself in the face!"
I have since Emailed Erin strongly requesting that she refrain from shooting herself in her pretty face, a drastic action that is totally unnecessary in my opinion. I had warned her before seeing the movie that the end may be a bit... ambiguous.
"You were right," she told me.
Perhaps, I've proposed to her, 2010, the Year We Make Contact, the sequel to 2001, which I plan to show in the upcoming weeks, will clear up any questions she may have.
Or perhaps not.

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