Kubrick’s masterpiece was one of the first DVDs I bought back in the summer of – appropriately enough – 2001. This was a time when DVD players were still relatively new commodities and you couldn’t just walk into Tesco, put down a £20 note and take one home. So, I worked all summer and finally mustered the £200+ needed to buy a player (complete with 5.1 surround sound speakers!) and a couple of DVDs. One of the inaugural two was Gladiator, the other was 2001.
Packaged in one of those hideous cardboard snap cases Warner Brothers seemed so keen on in the early days of DVD, and almost entirely devoid of special features (except for those thrilling ‘Interactive Menus’, of course), 2001 was hardly the most appealing of purchases. But whatever the design drawbacks, it was a Stanley Kubrick film, and as a pretentious philosophy A-Level student, I couldn’t wait to wax philosophical about the director’s great existential masterpiece.
So, I put the disc in. Monkeys. Lots and lots of monkeys. And a monolith too. Oooh, a spaceship, that’s cool, but where’s the dialogue? Oh look, finally, some people. But they’re not saying much…Ah, the breakdown of human communication caused by our over-reliance on technology. Brilliant! I’m on to you Stanley. I get what you’re trying to do here!
But I didn’t. The film progressed, each baffling moment followed by another even more baffling moment…HAL went bonkers, Frank Poole floated into the ether and a giant baby in some kind of weird bubble turned up at the end. What did it all mean? What the hell was going on? What the fuck, Stanley?!
I read Arthur C Clarke’s novel, poured over Christiane Kubrick’s A Life In Pictures book and repeatedly watched Kubrick’s other films searching for answers. None were forthcoming. I put the DVD back on my shelf and left it there alone, a monolith overshadowing a primate who couldn’t possibly hope to understand its mysteries.
A few months passed and I decided to watch 2001 again. Suddenly everything snapped into place. I still didn’t have a clue what was going on, of course, but I ‘got it’. I got that there are no answers; 2001 isn’t meant to supply you with solutions, just pose more questions, and as I’ve grown up I’ve delighted in repeat viewings of the film and the myriad of different interpretations it offers.
That was the lesson I took from my second-ever DVD purchase. If Jurassic Park, The Lion King and The Goonies taught me about cinematic wonder, 2001 showed me the mystery and intrigue of the silver screen – and of life in general. We all have our monoliths; the fun isn’t in knowing, but in trying to find out.
The reinterpretations of the posters for these classic films are by Mr Shabba. They can be purchased here and we are giving away an exclusive set here.