I am delighted to welcome a new guest film reviewer to this blog. Her perceptive words of wisdom on cinema will be accompanied by our new television reviewer when he can get the time off from the Guardian and telling us what his girlfriend likes on the telly.
Anyway, a big welcome to Camille who is this week looking at 2001: A Space Odyssey:
The received wisdom on 2001: a Space Odyssey, a film about Rigsby offof The Rising Damp visiting space to find out why Americans are interested in something or other on the moon, is that it is “compelling” and “important” and “good”. It is a “brilliantly directed” and “powerful” examination of computers going wrong in a “space” that is largely hostile to people who cannot breath when the computer will not open the pod bay doors and you have forgotten your special space helmet. And it is an “exploration” of the essence of “humanity”, the “inquisitiveness” that drives human “development”, such as the ability to synthesise complex ideas symbolically represented using visual metaphors, cinematic techniques, or the extended exploration of character to “shed light” on the “human condition”. But what do those “critics” who have a “knowledge” of the history of cinema and its techniques really know about an art form that some bespectacled bod with a Wollastonesque grasp of a medium can’t replicate by randomly throwing words at a page in the hope that her (or his) ignorance will attract a few extra clicks on the newspaper website?
So 2001: a Space Odyssey is “relevant” to whom? Certainly not the human beings who cannot go on trips to the moons of Jupiter. Nor the computers who are not operating under contradictory instructions and cannot make it to the cinema due to the lack of plug points in the local multiplex. Nor the cavemen who are not ululating in deference before a big black block before using a thing to kill a tapir. Most cinemagoers will be homo sapiens. Nor is it particularly “compelling” or “good” . The story of people going into space to do stuff on spaceships has been told many times. Like in that one with Carrie Fisher and Indiana Jones. Or the one with the robot. You know? That one. The robot in space one. That was in space. And what do we need another film in space for? They have already done one. And that’s that.
Oh, but the Mr la-di-dah Gunner Graham critics have said 2001: A Space Odyssey is different. It is beautifully framed and shot. It uses music wonderfully to convey space travel. And it has a so-called “jump cut” between a bone being thrown in the air and a spaceship that is “audacious”. Well, nyah. Who cares? IT doesn’t even have a plot. I mean, what’s Rigsby even in it for? and why do we need to find out about the BBC channels in the future? It’s not even the future now. It’s the past. That’s daft. And the so-called symbolism is difficult and complicated. And while I understand that some people like it and admire it, I have no idea what they are talking about and so I am adopting a wilfully contrarian view for coins and you can read more from me every week in the Funday Times.