2001: Ode to Sci-Fi

Today’s post is a response to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey I wrote for my film studies course. I had never seen the film before (even though I’m a fan of sci-fi) and I really loved it.

Prompt was: How is (or isn’t) 2001 dated?

The sci-fi genre is among the most apt to become dated because it involves so much speculation about the future and so many special effects (which can very quickly become laughable). This is exactly what dated the beginning portion of 2001. I kept finding myself distracted by the fact that these were humans in costumes acting ape-like. Even if this kind of scene was done today with effects like CGI, it would visually be dated as soon as it was released. The following airline spacecraft struck me as dated because of its emphasis on speculation. Things like fashion, decor, design, and technology were very evocative of the 60s/70s.

While speculation and special effects tend to date a sci-fi film, wonder tends to make a sci-fi film timeless. The rest of the film does not strike me as dated because it is so filled with wonder. The speculative space craft could have easily become a mere dated idea of a space craft, but there is so much emphasis on the isolation of space that is what dominates your attention. Likewise, HAL the computer could have been extremely dated by resembling an early computer whose processing equipment filled an entire room, but one is so drawn into gauging HAL’s humanity that one doesn’t bother judging the dated computer set-up. The final part of the film is especially wondrous (ineffable is a good word too).  There are so many other issues throughout the scene that take precedence over judging its special effects: the issues of human versus machine, of humans’ place in time, the idea of infinity. These make the latter part of 2001 less dated because they are issues which are still relevant more than 40 years later.

I liked this prompt because I think present and future relevance is always an important thing to consider in terms of culture. My prompt for you, internet: what are aspects of modern films that you think will be viewed as dated in 40 years?


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