The film opens with a dark opening with no picture, just pitch black, with an unusual soundtrack playing over top. The sounds are warped and unrecognisable, and play in no rhythmic sequence or melody. It is basically sound effects playing over one another in no particular order (or so to the audience), and so it already gives the film a new dimension that has never been used before in cinema. This was the overture to the film called 'Atmospheres.' As I watched this film for the first time I felt that this was to disconnect the viewer from their own reality. By listening to these unknown sounds in total darkness, it clears the mind and takes the audience's focus off from where they have been and what they have been doing that day. I think that Kubrick wanted this effect as he wanted the audience to view a new world without any thoughts of the world they already know. It is to immerse the viewer in the reality he has created in this film.
Following the overture a musical opening sequence takes place to introduce the title of the picture. This is a choreographed sequence of planets moving in space to the iconic soundtrack to the film, 'Also Sprach Zarathustra.' This is the first time the visual effects were displayed to the audience. When I watched it I found it unbelievable that this film was made in the 1960s. The special effects of this film are of good enough quality to rival modern day motion pictures, despite the difference in technology in film making. This opening shows what the title of the film says, as it shows film footage of out of space. Already the film is has a strong sci-fi influence in it until it moves onto the next scene.
2001: A Space Odyssey takes a big turn in setting and genre. The following scene is set at the dawn of mankind, the first human beings. It shows a group of primates surviving in a harsh rocky landscape (that in my opinion resembles the surface of the moon). This scene shows a primate finding a bone and working something out, then using the bone as a tool or weapon. This illustrates the moment when this primate acted more human than animal, and it marks the beginning of humanity. Since this scene only has early humans and animals in, there is no dialogue or narration. Once again I feel this was the intension of Kubrick, as there was no human voice featured in this scene, it disconnects the audience from civilisation and humanity. The biggest thing that happens in this scene is the primates discovery of a strange object that appears over night and out of no where.
This object is one of the iconic images taken from this film as it appears throughout the film and is not given a straight forward explanation to what it is and where it comes from. After the dawn of humanity scene, the picture then becomes an image of the future showing what space ships will be like in the future. The audience are then following a man traveling through space on a commercial flight, to show what everyday life is like in this futuristic interpretation. Though there is dialogue for the duration of the first futuristic scene, the audience are still left slightly disconnected from the characters. Watching his film was like observing people from with in a bubble. It is only when the character Dave comes into the plot is when the audience are given person to empathise with.
Dave's storyline is what most people question and debate over with 2001: A Space Odyssey. After his space mission is ruined by his ship's computer 'Hal,' Dave is left traveling alone in space as his crew members perished at Hal's will. Dave is then travels to a place that is unknown to humankind and is pulled through a show of lights, colours and landscapes, until he finds him self in a strange bedroom where he sees him self at different stages of his life. The is no clear answer given in the film, and the meaning behind it is very cryptic. Some have theorised that Dave went through a black hole that had sent him through time and the timeline of his own life. Personally I think that as the film went on, the closer the audience were brought into Dave's perspective of the world. So when dave went through the 'black hole,' the audience were no longer separated from the story or the characters, and were seeing what Dave was seeing in his mind. I think that Dave had been driven mad from travelling alone in space and had delusions which the audience could see first hand. Dave's ship had suddenly appeared in a bedroom without any explanation as to how. I think that Dave experienced what he wanted to be true, to suddenly appear home where he can grow old and die naturally, when instead he was the furthest human away from Earth and was living in a reality nowhere near home.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a portrayal of human nature. It is an illustration to the timeline of humanity from where animals became man and man became astronauts. This film expresses the isolation and the sense of unknown that space is. Space is the furthest thing to what humanity knows on Earth and Dave's story demonstrates what it is like to be a human to stray away from it's mother that is the Earth, and travel into the unknown. This is a film that is philosophical and terrifying. It asks for the truth on space travel. Is it something that needs to be done? What may happen? What kind of world would it be outside of the one we know. I don't think there is a film that is able to do what this film has done. Isolated the audience from the world they knew, and brought them into the unknown.