Seek the Original (abbreviated): 2001: A Space Odyssey

Sometimes there just isn't much to say about a book/movie comparison. So here's an abbreviated seek the original of:

2001: A Space Odyssey
(book by Arthur C. Clarke. Movie: 1968 by Stanley Kubrick)

After a great section about the ape-men, the rest of the first half is boring. HAL’s condition is introduced and then resolved so fast I barely understood that Bowman was in danger at all. HAL’s role begs to be longer and more exciting, and having it glazed over so quickly was a great injustice to the dynamic it could’ve been (at least the movie makes up for that). However, the last half of the book contains a breathtaking description of Bowman’s trip through the monolith. This makes the book worth reading, as breathtaking descriptions of space are what Clarke does best. The ending leaves a nice resonance in the brain, and that’s why I read books. I like that buzz.

The movie fits into the book like a puzzle piece. Everything that is strong in the book is weak in the movie, and everything that is weak in the book is strong as hell in the film. The movie does a much better job giving weight to HAL's attempt to murder Bowman, and boy is it suspenseful. However, the trip through the monolith is underexplained and cannot hope to equal the depth and grace Clarke pulled off in the book. The movie doesn't explain what happens to Bowman at all, so the end of the film is confusing, but it still leaves you with this vague feeling you've just witnessed something amazing. You haven't, but if you read Clarke's novel you'll understand what you missed.

I also greatly respect this movie for doing something very few sci-fi productions do: portray the silence of space! Yeah, there will be no lasers going pew-pew-pew, no rockets blasting, no ships groaning and blowing up in glorious dolby surround sound. Space has no air, thus there is no sound! Kubrick's movie is one of the few to put this fact front and center, and it makes for a very suspenseful experience because you feel like you're in deep space right along with Bowman. Thank you so much, Stanley, for being as accurate as possible.

The book and the movie complement each other perfectly. Read the book first and then watch the movie!


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