The year we make contact is better than you remember

It goes without saying that Stanley Kubrickit’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the best and most influential films of all time. It’s rare that a film more than five decades old can still provoke the same level of discussion and analysis. The film broke barriers with its groundbreaking portrayal of space travel and featured landmark special effects that predated both the actual moon landing and the renewed popularity of space movies with star wars in 1977. Hal-9000 remains one of the scariest villains in movie history.

One of the greatest things about 2001: A Space Odyssey is its ambiguity. The secrets of the Stargate, the fates of the characters, and what the monolith represents are shrouded in mystery, and as a result, moviegoers continue to parse the text to this day. Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke was notoriously secretive when discussing the film in later interviews; it’s up to the viewers to interpret it for themselves.


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2010 the year we made contact
Image via MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

The idea of ​​a sequel to 2001 seemed unthinkable. Not only is it nearly impossible to match the legacy of the first movie, but any continuation could destroy this beautiful mystery that had been so meticulously crafted. Kubrick pleaded famous with MGM not to go ahead with a follow-up, and only reluctantly accepted the reality when Peter Hyam was hired to direct. In 1984, 2010: the year we made contact continued the timeline of the first film, picking up nine years after the discovery one ship has disappeared.

Against all odds, Hyams managed to create a respectful following. It is not possible to call 2010 worthy of 2001but that’s a review you could throw virtually any movie. 2010 doesn’t try to “fix” the first movie, and the two are actually very distinct in what they’re trying to do. Rather than telling a great epic about the development of humanity and the birth of consciousness, 2010 is a space adventure that presented a message of hope about peace beyond the stars. The depiction of space travel that was prophetic in 1968 was optimistic in 1984; NASA was facing a turning point in real life, and 2010 had a positive portrayal of astronauts and their mission.

2010 follows the American scientist Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider), who is tasked with joining a Soviet mission to find the Discovery before it crashes into Jupiter’s moon. The US space program isn’t entirely sure what happened on the first flight, but it’s suspected that HAL-9000 either went rogue or failed mid-flight. Floyd is joined by the Discoveryarchitect Walter Curnow (John Lithgow) and HAL designer Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban), and they reluctantly agree to make peace with the Russians when it becomes clear that no American mission will be able to reach Discovery on time.

2010 the year of our creation contact image
Image via MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

While the search for Discovery uses the events of 2001 to start the story, the sequel 2010 does not focus on closing the gap or continuing more of the same events. New pictures of 2001the main character of Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) talking to his widowed wife Betty Fernandez (Marie-Jo Deschanel) serves an expositional purpose more than anything, and it actually helps forge an emotional connection with Bowman by establishing what his life on Earth was like. 2001 is a masterpiece in almost every way, but it’s not a particularly warm film. 2010 genuinely had empathy for the characters as they pondered how their monumental decisions would affect the future of space travel.

Rather than focusing on nostalgic teasing, 2010 deconstructs how each of these background actors is impacted by 2001events. The presentation of HAL’s creator does not explain his actions, as Chandra is just as confused about HAL’s intentions as everyone else. It presents an interesting question; what do you do when your creation has overtaken you? Balaban returns to the spirit of an idiosyncratic developer who literally talks to computers all day without relying on idiosyncrasies. It’s a surprisingly compelling depiction of programming thoroughness, and the opening scenes with Chandra communicating with other missions show just how distinct HAL was from its original vision.

The real heart of the film is Scheider’s performance as Floyd. Floyd asks the same question Kubrick did when he heard about the sequel: Why tempt fate? Floyd is skeptical of the search for Discovery when it’s clear there’s something bigger at stake, and he’s skeptical of the Soviet Union’s intentions. However, he is far too curious and empathetic to abandon ship for good. Floyd is remarkably forthcoming in his interactions with Russians; in 1984, the coexistence of two competing space programs seemed unthinkable.

2010 the year we make contact film image
Image via MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

It was a unique moment for 2001 to schedule events. The amazing technological achievements of 2001 were unlike anything viewers had ever seen before in 1968, but 2010 takes place in a chilling parallel to the Cold War era itself. 2001 didn’t need to go back to events on Earth because it was all about the existential. The scenes at home in 2010 increase the tension by basing the story on events the audience might recognize. As Floyd and his team desperately search for clues to Discovery‘s wearababout, the Soviet Union and the United States are closing in on war.

This concept of space travel as a unifying force ties into Bowman’s role in the story. It is discovered that before his disappearance, Bowman had sent HAL a message promoting peace in the world which is picked up by the crew. Again, this doesn’t specifically associate this message with HAL, but it does give some insight into what Bowman might have done if the Discovery the mission went as planned. However, the film pays homage to the more ambiguous qualities of the first film in its final moments. A superb final sequence in which the monolight transforms Jupiter into a new star retains the existentialism of 2001and manages to provoke an interesting debate in itself.

Peter Hyam is an interesting filmmaker. He is best known for his schlocky-like dishes like Capricorn One, Outland, Sudden Death, and timecopcorn 2010 is a slower paced film than his previous work. Hyams was working in an established genre, and his focus on building global technology helped give 2010 some stylish visuals. The film’s beautiful design still managed to stand out amidst the plethora of sci-fi films in the 1980s. It earned five Oscar nominations, including Best Visual Effects, Best Costume Design, Best artistic direction, the best sound and the best makeup.

The 1980s were dominated by the rise of the blockbuster era which had begun in the late 1970s with Jaws and star warsand the era of challenging science fiction closer to 2001 were just a distant memory. 2010 brought back an arthouse quality that was sorely lacking. There’s no inherent reason to make a sequel to 2001but this film which Is exist is worth another look from skeptics.


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