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By Carolyn Collins Petersen, TheSpacewriter
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Back to the Future with 2001

Friday, October 14, 2016 15:47
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It Holds Up Well

Last week I was in Iceland, doing a series of lectures for a touring group. We had a fabby time touring the glaciers, hiking, checking out the glaciers, and waiting for the northern lights to appear. Since it was my second visit, I was able to look at the country with a fresh set of eyes. It’s a gorgeous place and, if you’re into planetary science, it’s where you go to learn about how our planet forms and evolves.

Speaking of looking at things with new eyes, I had a chance to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey while flying back home.  I haven’t watched that movie in decades, so it was a lot like watching it for the first time. My very first viewing was when it first came out. I went to see it with my dad and I remember we came out of the theater with glazed looks on our faces. We talked about it for a long time afterwards, once we were able to put our thoughts into words.

Seeing Through Different Eyes

This time, I was seeing 2001 with a producer’s eyes. Also, since I’ve read the SF work it was based on, I had a more experienced view of Sir Arthur Clarke’s work. I must admit, the movie holds up well on both counts. Its visualizations are pretty decent, considering it was made long before all the fancy CG programs we have access to now. I found the storyline to be as interesting as I did before. The movie plays it out with quiet grace and elegance. I didn’t notice the first time around, but this time (as a scriptwriter) I noticed just how banal the dialogue is. There are just enough lines to advance the story, but some of them are very trite. I suspect that was intentional. They wanted to show that our human concerns look pretty small when played out against the backdrop of the universe.

If you get a chance, go watch 2001. For folks who were much too young to see it the first time (or weren’t even born), it may move slowly. That’s okay. It’s not an action-adventure flick. It’s a thoughtful look at our place in the cosmos through the ages. It’s th e first film that I remember in the “space” genre that took the story seriously. That’s not to say Star Wars and Star Trek and others aren’t serious. They’re just different. So, check it out. Well worth seeing!

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