Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2001 Space Odyssey and Gravity

Space seems to be the universal backbone for most science fiction films. You have great classics such as Star Wars and 2001 Space Odyssey taking place primarily in space. Gravity and 2001 Space Odyssey are both similar and different in many ways. They share common themes but the messages meant to come across to the viewer are different. With the 2001 Space Odyssey you have a clear message of adventure and new beginnings. In Gravity its an obvious tale of survival and has a clear message of never giving up.
Gravity is a science fiction thriller set in space, originally meant to be watched in 3D. It is about Dr. Ryan Stone played by Sandra Bullock, surviving from a damaged space shuttle and returning to earth. It’s a movie that will have anyone on the edge of his or her seat the whole time. Its striking visuals and storyline are not ones anyone will forget. Its message is very clear and the cinematography is above average
2001 Space Odyssey is a tale of rebirth and reincarnation, through the voyages and tales of 4 different parts. Most of the movie takes place in a future universe set in space. Its imagery and music score are like none other. It’s a story you will never forget. Message is a bit vague at times but becomes very clear at the end of the movie
Gravity’s central point was about survival just like 2001 Space Odyssey. The 2001Space Odyssey starts off with the beginning of mankind. It’s a bunch of apes fighting over watering holes and territory. Its not till the monolith enters that you see the apes evolve into resemblances of humans. They stand up on there hind legs and begin to use bones as weapons and tools. A scene that particularly stood out was the initial discovery. You have the ape picking up the bones of the deceased animal and in a climatic collaboration of music and slow motion sequence you see the ape begin pounding his weapon on the rest of the bones. It’s a monumental part in the story that was executed brilliantly. Later on in the Space Odyssey you come across the crew aboard the Discovery one that is bound for Jupiter. Introduced are Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole, and the rest of the crew who are in cryogenically hibernation. In this story line of the film survival is against an artificial intelligence gone rogue. HAL a super computer who contains the first know error within the 9000’s system. HAL ends up killing Dr. Poole by detaching him from his oxygen supply while fixing an EVA pod. Dr. Bowman goes out to retrieve his now dead crewmate only to be locked out of the shuttle by HAL. Not having brought his helmet Dr. Bowman concocts a plan using an explosion to get him back into the shuttle. This scenario parallels really well with a scene from Gravity. Dr. Stone in Gravity is left outside of the international space station without oxygen having to get into the airlock quickly or risking death. Dr. Stone and Dr. Poole have to think fast or die of asphyxiation. Survival is definitely a very big factor in both movies. In Gravity the whole themes is survival. It’s about the tale of Dr. Stone getting back to earth and trials she faces to achieve her goal.
Harbingers are also a very big element in both movies. In the 2001 Space Odyssey you have the monolith. It seemed that every time the Monolith appeared something crucial would happen in the story. As stated before it brought on the evolution of apes to Homosapiens. Later it was the cause of everyone’s death in the TMA-1. Finally near the end of the movie it was the harbinger for new life and the beyond. In Gravity you have the space debris as the harbinger. It wasn’t a good one though. It signifies how little time Dr. Ryan Stone had left to get out of space. It was the initial destruction of her Shuttle and now every 90 minutes time spent worrying whether this was her time up or not. The monolith is the Space Odyssey is a bit more complicated than space debris cause by Russia. The monolith is essentially a visual representation of things to come, things that are, and things of the past. At the end of the movie you see the monolith appear before Dr. Bowman when he is old and then the next scene is a representation of new life in the form of a baby still within the womb. It is the process of reincarnation, into greater beings. This is shown through the colored passage, which is understood, as knowledge being learned, then the passage of time with Bowman seeing himself as old then dead. In Gravity they portray a new beginning for Dr. Stone a tad bit differently. Her new beginning wasn’t about life but about her resolution to live. The scene that portrays this is
Dr. Stone in the fetal position when she first enters the airlock at the International Space Station. It’s a very moving and important scene. Without the visual representation of her new resolve it would just be another movie without a deeper meaning.
Music plays an essential part in both movies. The signature piece in the 2001 Space Odyssey is a universally used music track. It was so monument and powerful other filmmakers still use the same score. The silence in the beginning of the movie is powerful. It stands for the beginning of life, how everything is silent, then the music starts play and the message sent out is so powerful.  The classical music throughout the film is also very carefully thought out. They don’t use music of any certain era. That way it is easier to stand the test of time. In Gravity it’s mostly silent meant to replicate the feeling of being in space. There are sudden bursts of music meant to lighten the mood with Kowalski’s, Dr. Stone’s fellow astronaut. He plays this mellow country styled music meant to bring a sense of normalcy to the situation. It was meant to make it more relatable.
There were many feelings each film intended to bring out of the audience. A big notable one was anxiety. In Gravity this emotion overruled every other one. You shared the same feelings that Dr. Ryan Stone was experiencing. Being stranded out in space with a minimal chance of survival is stressful. Anxiety is bound to start elevating vitals and making way for panic. Dr. Stone clearly demonstrates this when she starts breathing hard and fast after the initial separation from the Hubble Space Telescope. She panics, which in turn leads her to use most of her oxygen. In the Space Odyssey you get a different feeling. It is one of complete insignificance. You are meant to feel small and unworthy, against the monolith, the artificial intelligence system, and the theme of reincarnation, it brings it out.
There are major differences between the two movies. With any two movies from different eras they’re bound to be a few. In the Space Odyssey in explores concepts of life and renewal. With Gravity it stays focused on survival and appending doom. Beside the obvious lack of CGI technology in the 60s there is still a very masterful way that the imagery was done in the 2001 Space Odyssey. Gravity lacks the artful handmade process of movie sets. There’s nothing wrong with CGI, considering that its probably one of the hardest thing to do within a movie, but it can never live up to the careful skill it takes to produce and make a movie like Space Odyssey look real, and believable.
In conclusion both the 2001 Space Odyssey and Gravity are outstanding movies. The emotions each movie instills, the themes portrayed, and the imagery of both movies is like nothing else. Space movies are critical pieces when it comes to science fiction films. Without it a lot of very famous movies would have never come into existence. Besides the differences of story telling and of time periods both of these movies are a must watch for any avid science fiction fan.

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