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February 08, 1990 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-08

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily -Thursday, February 8, 1990
2001: A spaced-out

BY TONY SILBER

How can I enjoy a motion picture
that makes me feel like an idiot?
That is the question I have asked
myself after each time I have seen
the legendary 2001: A Space
Odyssey. I feel like I'm part of a
miniscule minority, but I have to
say it: I hate this film. Critics have
celebrated it as a landmark since its
release in 1968 and I can't understand
why. Do I need to take a course on
Stanley Kubrick before viewing this
picture or do I need to read the
Arthur C. Clarke novel? I wanted to
like this "classic," but I just don't
get it.
As far as appearances go, 2001 is
breathtaking. The cinematography,
special effects, and that huge 70mm
feel are riveting. The opening seg-
ment of the film, on ancient Earth,
portrays a lovely, simple world
shrouded in cloudless sunsets. The
scenes on the moon and in space are
equally magnificent and countered

with the awesome musical selections
by Richard Strauss, Johann Strauss,
and Aram Khachaturian. This film
looks great, but that's where my
"love" of this odyssey ends.
Every film tells a story. Motion
pictures have traditionally been pop-
ular because of their amazing capac-
ity to tell stories with pictures. But
what is the story in 2001? Perhaps
only Kubrick (the director, producer,
and writer) knows for sure. The film
has four distinct segments: "The
Dawn of Man," the mission of Dr.
Floyd, the Jupiter mission and HAL,
and the final "Jupiter and Beyond the
Infinite." All four of these "chapters"
could be films in themselves as they
are thematically very different from
one another.
"The Dawn of Man" tells the
story of evolution of humanity on
Earth several million years ago. One
tribe of apes controls a watering hole
and another tribe challenges for
control of it, but they are driven off.
Soon after, the exiled band
encounters a tall, black monolith.

They are, at first, frightened as they
encircle the mysterious object, but
gradually move in closer and touch
it. This is a mesmerizing episode in
the picture as these apes, after their
enounter with the monolith, gain the
ability to walk upright and grasp
objects which can be used as
weapons. They return to the
watering hole and conquer the
"unevolved" apes.
The film then transports us into
space in the year 2001 to the
melodic tones of "The Blue
Danube." Dr. Floyd and his team of
scientists have dug up an object on
the moon that they believe has been
buried there for four million years.
The object is a monolith, exactly
like the one our simian friends just
encountered. Kubrick doesn't waste
this opportunity to commercialize
the space environment with a
Howard Johnson's Earthlight Room,
a Hilton space station, Whirpool
meal machines, and IBM spacesuits.
This segment, like the first, ends
without a real conclusion.
The Jupiter Mission is the next
seemingly unrelated piece in this in-
creasingly confusing intergalactic
puzzle. Frank Poole and Dave Bow-
man are two astronauts who are en
route to Jupiter on a historic flight
when their on-board computer, HAL,

>ddity
goes berserk, killing Poole and three
fellow astronauts who are in hiber-
nated sleep, and threatening the mis-
sion. This begins the compelling
man vs. machine segment of 2001
as Kubrick seems to be issuing a
warning to us not to let our ma-
chines become too sophisticated.
When threatened, machines will react
the same as people, as evidenced
when HAL tells Bowman, "I know
that Frank and you were planning to
disconnect me and I'm afraid that's
something I can't allow to happen."
The last half hour of 2001 goes
off the deep end. There is no dia-
logue, only Dave's journey into the
interior of Jupiter and what he dis-
covers there. This sequence is visu-
ally unbelievable; it is very difficult
to discern exactly what is happening
here and why. It is even more diffi-
cult to figure out what the final
chapter of this mammoth film has to
do with the other very different ones.
There is no answer, I fear, except in
Kubrick's and/or Clarke's fantastic
imagination. Granted, the film is far
ahead of its time, but does that jus-
tify it as a "great" motion picture
when it is impossible to grasp any
semblance of meaning or purpose?
2001 is a "cool" film to watch -
there's no question about that - but
it is bound to leave many scratching
their heads, wondering. Sure, there
are a million theories for what the
space baby symbolizes or how HAL
represents the future domination of
computers in our lives, but no one
really knows what's going on here. I
feel like lifting my arms in frustra-
tion and exclaiming, "Okay, Stan-
ley, you win. I'm an idiot." How
can I like a film that makes me feel
like that?
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is
playing at the Michigan Theater
tonight at 7 p.m. and Sunday through
next Friday.

Author See rides
on Golden Days
BY CAROLYN PAJOR
CAROLYN See has no reason not to be effusive: Alice Adams
proclaimed her latest novel, Golden Days, was "ferociously funny and
furiously brave," a sentiment echoed by many reviewers. See says, "I'm
doing exactly what I want to do; it's so wonderful, I'm so lucky." She is
modest, too. It is not likely that fortunate circumstance is the only factor
that enables See to be a novelist, a weekly book reviewer for the Los
Angeles Times and an adjunct professor at UCLA.
See is a woman of substance and ideas with a definite opinion on
judging fiction. She says, "I don't apply high flown literary standards to
judge the latest Jack Higgins novel. I don't get out of shape that it's not
'literature."' These are curious words for a woman who received her
Ph.D. in American Literature, but See says that "critics who only mess
with literature miss the fun because a lot of the best books don't come
under that title."
Unsurprisingly, See has written three novels with two coauthors
under the pen name Monica Highland, taken from the corner of Santa
Monica Blvd and Highland Avenue in LA. See calls the books "airplane
literature for smart people" and says they have "beautiful men and women
who lead adventurous lives, are never at a loss for words, have orgasms at
the same time and always have their shoes polished." But there is
thought behind the gloss, as See explains that the novels' central ideas
revolve around happiness within the limits of the human condition. "If
there is happiness, what is it made of?" she asks. "I take the suffering out
of interesting lives.and see what will happen. My characters have fun and
a prudent amount of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll without the damage."
See says her first two novels (The Rest is Done With Mirrors and
Mothers, Daughters) have fallen under the rubric of women's literature.
"Women would come up to me and say my novel changed their lives,"
she says. She is pleased that this isn't so with Golden Days, a novel
that "looks at the universe and how it works." She presents the world
with a terrible tragedy - a nuclear attack - and shows that it might not
be all it seems. See says she wants the widest audience possible, simply
because "it is more fun."
And if See would actually want to be anyone else, she says she
would be "Peter Jennings, reporting from Mongolia. I want to see what's
going on in the larger world, have the adventure of travelling and not
being bogged down in your own sorrows." Her advice for young writers
is clear: "1000 words a day, 5 days a week, a charming note to an editor
for the rest of your life. Be sure you're having a good time and writing
stuff you're crazy about and you can't miss. You're a writer, exactly the
person you want to be." There is no doubt that Carolyn See is doing
exactly that.
CAROLYN SEE will be reading from Making History at Rackham
Amphitheatre at 5 p.m. today.

11

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IS COMING!

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READ THE DAILYI
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Stop by and see a Jostens representative,
Wednesday, Feb. 7 thru Friday, Feb. 9,
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6

O

ELEMENTS
Continued from page 7
order that exists within chaos.
The music in Vital Elements
creates various moods integral to the
communication of ideas. The ac-
companiment presents different tones
and speeds of electronic music and
acoustic piano, as well as sounds
imitating actual environmental oc-
A d in
Auditions for Maria Irene Fornes'
The Conduct of Life: Friday, 5-6:30
p.m. and Saturday, 12-3 p.m.
Copies of the script available in

room 2550 Frieze. Prepare short
monologue if possible. Audition
sign up in Green room, Frieze. For
more info call Ann at 663-3089. *

curences. Sparling says the choreog-
raphers intend Vital Elements to in-
stigate thought and emotions, but,
he adds, "it is not political or propa-
ganda, but simply making art speak
for the times."
VITAL ELEMENTS takes place
tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 8
p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Power
Center. Student tickets are $5.

7LILLV
LO 1 E

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- IN THE U-CLUB
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