Space Odyssey Thesis

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¶ … Space Odyssey

This film has been lauded as innovative and groundbreaking in terms of cinematic art. It is also referred as director Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece in terms of concept and cinematography. The film's stunningly conceived images are still as exciting and provocative as they were when it was released in 1968. One can refer to the opening sequence of the film where we encounter the strange and awe-inspiring black obelisk. This leads to the later sequences in the film that progress to the intriguing and mysterious finale.

The plot is a result of Kubrick's interpretation of a story by renowned science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke (Greydanus). The film deals with a number of themes. The most significant of these is human evolution, the role of modern technology as well as the possibilities offered by artificial intelligence. The film also suggests the influence of alien intelligence in human development.

Besides these themes, what makes the film impressive is the use of surreal imagery which still holds its own today (Greydanus). Poole ( 2001) states that, "By any standards, 2001 was a phenomenal film… it set new standards in special effects…" (Poole, 2001, p. 39)

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The plot revolves around the subject of human evolution and human development on many levels. This is evident from the opening sequence, which deals with primitive man and the impact that the presence of the black monolith has on their development. The suggestion is that the monolith inspires the creation of the first human tool and weapon. The films then shifts to futuristic sequences when the monolith is discovered on the moon and then to later sequences when it is again discovered on Jupiter. Every appearance of the black monolith presages a development in human evolution and experience (Synopsis for 2001: A Space Odyssey).

Thesis on Space Odyssey This Film Has Been Lauded Assignment

While it would be beyond the scope of this review to summarize all the events of the film, what is possibly of more importance is the underlying significance and mythical structure of the film and its intention as a work of art. As one critic notes,

"2001" does nothing less than attempt to deal with some of the ultimate questions of the universe: Who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going? The movie deals with the evolution of the human race and then muses on the probability that not only is Mankind not alone in the universe, but that we may have had outside help with our development

( Puccio).

The above quotation succinctly captures something of the reason why this film is still viewed and acclaimed today. The exploration of the positive and negative aspects of artificial intelligence in the computer, Hal, is only one aspect of the films insight into future possibilities. There is also an implied critique of modern computer technology in the film. Among he many reviews that have been written about this film, one of the most telling assessments of the film is that it predicted the dominance of the machine and technology in the modern world. As one critic notes; "...the machines are necessary because man himself is so helpless in the face of the universe" (Ebert; 2001; a Space Odyssey).

However, possibly the most important aspects of the film are the references to myth and the search for human truth and understanding of existence. It can not only be linked to the Odyssey but also to the Prometheus myth. "The concept of the pillar sent down from Jupiter is exactly the same as that of Prometheus bringing fire to humans" ('2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Thus Spake Zarathustra'). The mythical framework to the film is in fact discussed by Arthur C. Clarke. He states in an interview that, …it is true that we set out with the deliberate intention of creating a myth. (the Odyssean parallel was clear in our minds from the very beginning, long before the title of the film was chosen.) a myth has many elements, including the religious ones. Quite early in the game I went around saying, not very loudly, "M-G-M doesn't know this yet, but they're paying for the first $10,000,000 religious movie."


There have also been a number of criticisms of the film. One of these is that there are disparities between the actual book by Clarke and the film and that cognizance should be taken of the fact that these are two very different artistic mediums. Many critics state that the book is more understandable in terms of the final sections and that the film sequences are more confusing than enlightening ( Clarke).

In one sense the final sequences of the film are confusing, as the straightforward narrative "… gives way to a series of kaleidoscopic images " and "Bowman is transported into the realm of the mysterious, godlike aliens, who have seemingly guided human evolution for 4 million years" ( Libby). On the other hand, these final sequences are open to many interpretations and critics see this open-endedness as essential to the artistic integrity of the film. As a critic states, " Despite the wide scope of interpretation "2001" allows, there's something oddly unifying at work here" ( Libby).

This film has become a perennial favorite among viewers, not only because of innovative style but because it still deals with issues and questions that concern the modern mind and contemporary society today. As one reviewer puts it, "….2001: A Space Odyssey doesn't just depict a quantum leap forward in human consciousness -- it practically requires such a leap, on an individual scale, from the viewer" (Greydanus).

Despite all the references for the virtuoso film work and virtual reality and the computer sequences, the central aspect that we retain from this film and which remains so relevant today is the evolutionary and religious connotations of the film. As one critic states, " Kubrick thought that one of the themes of 2001 was that humans need "some sort of transfiguration" to attain a "higher form of life "(Scheurer, 1998, p. 172).

2. The Bicycle Thief

This film has achieved some amazing accolades and has been described as the "Best Picture about the Relation of Property to the Human Soul" (Warren, 1994). In essence it is the story of an ordinary humble man who searches for his stolen bicycle. In simple terms, the film is described as a "….powerful film about a man who needs a job" (Egbery 1999). However, the film has metaphorical depth and the stolen bicycle is equated with the loss of his meaning in life. "A humble man searches for his bicycle and the part of his soul that was stolen with it."(Warren, 1994)

The film was produced in 1948 and is described by many critics as Vittorio de Sica's "masterpiece" (Shoeshine -- Sciuscia: Vittorio De Sica -- 1946). The plot is straightforward and deals with an unemployed man in postwar Italy. It is set after World War II, and "…depicts an Italy of poverty and desperation. Unemployment is soaring and the paltry amount of the welfare" (Fabe, 2004, p. 103). The films themes are highlighter by the photography, which is in grainy black and white. The entire film was also shot on location (Fabe, 2004, p. 103).

This neorealist film has also become one of the most widely known and recognized European films and was awarded a special Academy Award for there most outstanding foreign film. This was even more remarkable in that this category did not officially exist until seven years later. (the Bicycle Thief)

The film script was written Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio DeSica. As a neorealist film it focuses on aspects such as the creation of a simple situation that deals with ordinary people; as well as the technical aspects, such as outdoor shooting and lighting, and non-actors mixed together with actors, as well as a focus on social problems in the aftermath of World War II (the Bicycle Thief).

One of the reasons for the acclaim that this film has received is its insight into human nature and the way that it reveals essential truths about the human condition. In the film an unemployed man, Antonio Ricci, eventually succeeds in finding a job. The job however requires a bicycle. The precious bicycle, which is the key to his future security and that of his family, is stolen on the first day of his employment and he and his son begin a frantic search for it.

The lessons and the insights that they learn during this search constitute the depth and meaning of the film. In this regard the film focuses on the relationship between father and son and "…the larger framework of poverty and unemployment in postwar Italy "(the Bicycle Thief (1948).

It is this larger social framework that forms the background to the events and which provides much of the pathos and poignancy in the film. Film technique is used in the movie to show how the lives of ordinary people intersect with and are influenced by the larger social… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Space Odyssey" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Space Odyssey.  (2009, April 9).  Retrieved September 19, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Space Odyssey."  9 April 2009.  Web.  19 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Space Odyssey."  April 9, 2009.  Accessed September 19, 2020.