Movie Mom

Movie Mom


2001: A Space Odyssey

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Characters in peril, some killed
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:1968

In this science fiction masterpiece, Stanley Kubrick tracks the odyssey of mankind, from the dawn of man four million years ago to the exploration of deep space. The film begins with a desolate time when our ape-like predecessors led frightened and brutal lives, scrounging for food and huddling against the cold night while wild animals howled in the distance. In a few short minutes, Kubrick has spanned the epochs, depicting the origins of tribes and the miraculous morning when apes awoke and learned how to use tools. With this ability, mankind was launched on its journey to the stars. On Kubrick’s timeline, it is just a small next step to the exploration of the moon. And from the moon, mankind heads off to Jupiter. But what is triggering these immense changes? Why are humans evolving and what is their destiny? At transforming moments along this odyssey, a mysterious black monolith appears, drawing humans ever forward. But toward what? The surprise ending to this film is legendary, and has probably inspired more late night discussions in college dorms than any other movie.

For children 12 or older, 2001 can be a mind-boggling experience. In a series of dramatic vignettes, it introduces children to cosmic mysteries, and gives them an opportunity and an incentive to grapple with issues that span the millenia, rather than dwelling on their last argument over a toy. Younger children may be impressed by the drama, the special effects and the beautiful music, but may have a hard time following the plot. In addition, they will lose patience with some of the longer segments dealing with space exploration. (The special effects used by Kubrick were revolutionary in their day, but will seem commonplace to children raised on Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Even twelve year olds may not appreciate the subtle references to political rivalries and intrigue on earth, the cover-up of mysterious developments on the moon, or the more ironic aspects of the clash between man and machine (HAL the computer plaintively crying that he is afraid and that he can feel his mind going is a poignant example). In fact, the cryptic ending of the movie was famous for stumping even adults when the movie first came out.

Most teenagers cannot help but be swept up in this film, which stretches their minds and gives them mysteries and uncertainty instead of endings where everything is neatly tied up with a bow. As children strive to deal with the uncertainty of the ending, and fill in its gaps and illuminate its gray areas by drawing upon their own personality and sense of the world, they are on their way to appreciating greater and more mature forms of art.

Questions for Kids:

Why is the moment the apes use tools a turning point?

What does the monolith represent?

HAL says he was made in 1992 — now that we have passed that date, how many of the film’s ideas about the future seem to be accurate?

HAL says he can “feel” — what does “he” mean?

What happens to Dave at the end? Why?

Connections: A sequel, “2010,” was made in 1984, with author Arthur Clarke appearing briefly on a park bench. It answers many of the questions raised in “2001,” at least in a literal sense, but is not as satisfying as the more open-ended original. Kids who like this movie should read some of Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction books, especially Childhood’s End, and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.

Activities: Teens may want to use the internet to learn more about artificial intelligence and space travel.



Previous Posts

What Happened to All the Great Quotable Movie Lines?
Michael Cieply has a fascinating piece in the New York Times about the movie lines we love to quote and why there don't seem to be any new ones. Look through all of the top ten lists of the year, and see if you can think of one quotable line from any of them. That doesn't mean they aren't well wri

posted 3:58:57pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

George Clooney and the Cast of Downton Abbey
You don't have to be a fan of "Downton Abbey" (or "Mr. Selfridge") to love this hilarious spoof, with guest appearances by Jeremy Piven, George Clooney and the Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ryo7fqdmcGQ?rel=0" frameborder="0"] [

posted 1:43:50pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Ask Amy Says: A Book on Every Bed
I love to remind people about Amy Dickinson's wonderful "Book on Every Bed" proposal: Here’s how it happens: You take a book (it can be new or a favorite from your own childhood). You wrap it. On Christmas Eve (or whatever holiday you celebrate), you leave the book in a place where Santa is

posted 12:00:42pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Matthew Llewellyn, Composer for Wally Lamb's "Wishin' and Hopin'"
Wishin' and Hopin' is Lifetime movie airing December 21, 2014, based on the novel by Wally Lamb. It stars Molly Ringwald and Meat Loaf with narration by Chevy Chase. Composer Matthew Llewellyn was kind enough to answer my questions about creating a score for this nostalgic holiday story. How d

posted 9:40:56am Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.