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The Classics: '2001: A Space Odyssey'

The Classics: '2001: A Space Odyssey'


Paul Miller remembers '2001: A Space Odyssey.'

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2001 Classics
2001 Classics

The Classics are must-see, must-read, must-play works revered by The Verge staff. They offer glimpses of the future, glimpses of humanity, and a glimpse of our very souls. You should check them out.

In high school my friends and I would end up at the chain video store (Hastings, it was called) about once a week. There we'd spend an hour or two selecting a movie that nobody ended up liking. I usually gravitated toward sci-fi, and one week I happened upon 2001: A Space Odyssey. This was before I knew anything about Kubrick's legend as a director, or 2001's vaunted status in film and sci-fi circles. I just knew I liked spaceships, and Space Odyssey promised that and more.

We went to my house to watch it. I made sure the tape was rewound, and then popped it into the VCR. My TV was maybe 20-something-inches, and its analog circuitry rendered a blurry version of the film's majestic visuals. I sat up close to the CRT, jaw agape, and drooled for the next 141 minutes. My friends took the couch, armchair, and beanbag, and nobody made a noise the whole movie.

My mind was an ooze, still trying to reassemble itself

After it was over, I stood up and rubbed the crick out of my neck, and my friends uncurled themselves from the furniture and went home. My mind was an ooze, still trying to reassemble itself. I'd had a life-changing experience.

It turns out my friends had been bored out of their minds. Later that day my mom said that she didn't want me to have my friends over "if they're just going to make out the whole time." Wrapped up in the movie, I’d been unaware of the romance in the air — when I polled my friends the next day, most of them had lost concentration on the plot during the first scene, which mainly involves apes shouting at each other.

I don't want to recommend '2001: A Space Odyssey' to you. It's not that sort of movie

2001 is a boring movie. It's boring because space is boring, and odysseys are boring. It's about epochs, not action. It's about spaceflight, on the scale of years, not seconds. It's about eating food with a straw, and walking with velcro, and talking politics.

I don't want to recommend 2001: A Space Odyssey to you. It's not that sort of movie. It's a movie that's just there, on a Hastings shelf, waiting for the right person to find it; and maybe that person will be you. It will be like finding a wardrobe gateway to Narnia. You'll step through, time will stop, the fantastic will be made real... and meanwhile, back on earth, everybody else will be making out with their girlfriends.