Unlocking the Secrets of "2001: A Space Odyssey" 55 years on

Originally published at: Unlocking the Secrets of "2001: A Space Odyssey" 55 years on | Boing Boing


The secret is this one weird trick a lot of other people use, too. A team of of competent specialists coordinated by another competent specialist, interpreting the work of yet another competent specialist.


The lack of exposition leaves lots of room for the viewer to interpret meaning making the film more personal and meaningful. The things I have learned about the film over the years actually diminish my enjoyment of it to some extent.


I love that I first saw this when I was something like 4 years old. It was such a fantastical thing to have implanted in the mind at such a young age, even if some things didn’t make sense until later. Thanks dad!


The eyes of Stanley Pain.

1 Like

The truth is, it’s competent specialists all the way down.


The caveman throws the bone in the air and it segues into an orbiting nuclear weapons platform. He discovered a tool, and it led from primitive blunt instrument to the future of sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. Quite the leap ahead in applied technology. Something of a step sideways regarding motivation.


I was only thinking the other day I should watch 2001 again. One of my all-time favourite movies and I managed to see it in the cinema on a restored 35mm print with the overture at the start a few years ago. A fantastic experience.

1 Like

Whats the secret? What was unlocked?

It’s people!

1 Like

All the way down?

1 Like

I could argue some things don’t make sense even now!

This I fully agree with. One of the joys of even The Hobbit in the beginning was its lack of exposition in the tale. Sure, it was fleshed out in Professor Tolkien’s mind, but he wisely left such stuff for the appendices, and The Silmarillion was not published during his lifetime for a reason.

This concept of skipping exposition is seen as what made Star Wars resonate so well, and I would argue it’s part of why Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune won such high praise, although one could argue that there the exposition is left out because so many know the tale.

In the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I think the lack of exposition adds in other ways, the whole “liquid poetry” bit for example. But I think the main way it works is that it respects the intelligence of the audience. And that resonates.

I can get this sentiment, even if I disagree. What I learned about the movie, about Stanley Kubrick and Donald Trumbull and Arthur C. Clarke shifted my enjoyment some, from wonder at the play on stage to wonder at the artistry in the wings of the stage, the magic of the construction that makes the play possible.


Huh, I never thought about the lack of exposition in Star Wars, I did have a deep personal connection to Star Wars but always assumed it was because I identified with Luke… young male with a robot dog, tired of doing chores and yearning to make a difference and come into his own. The exposition angle is interesting though, will give it some thoughts.

I feel like there was a lot of exposition in DV’s Dune, but it is very cleverly disguised considering how much there really is to explain. I love a lot about DV’s Dune but there isn’t much there to identify with personally.

For 2001, I simply enjoyed the wonderment and I don’t need the answers. It’s almost like a magic trick, you can’t get back the awe once you know how it is done. I’m also a huge fan of Lynch, he can take me through a roller coaster ride of emotions and most of the time I don’t even know why or what is happening on screen.

Thanks for the chat, lots to think about.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.