2001: A Space Odyssey
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an eye-opening experience for older children, with much to ponder and push teens to a greater appreciation of the mystery of life and the universe. They should also be aware that this classic is slow-moving and it could lose audiences expecting a fast-paced sci-fi movie in a spaceship. Patience and a willingness to fall into the suspense of the film are necessary.
What's the story?
In this science fiction masterpiece, Stanley Kubrick tracks the odyssey of mankind, from the dawn of man 4 million years ago to the exploration of deep space. The film begins with a desolate time when our ape-like predecessors led frightened and brutal lives, scrounging for food and huddling against the cold night while wild animals howled in the distance. In a few short minutes, Kubrick has spanned the epochs, depicting the origins of tribes and the miraculous morning when apes awoke and learned how to use tools. With this ability, mankind was launched on its journey to the stars. On Kubrick's timeline, it is just a small next step to the exploration of the moon. And from the moon, mankind heads off to Jupiter. But what is triggering these immense changes? Why are humans evolving and what is their destiny? At transforming moments along this odyssey, a mysterious black monolith appears, drawing humans ever forward. But toward what?
Is it any good?
For children 12 or older, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY can be a mind-boggling experience. In a series of dramatic vignettes, it introduces children to cosmic mysteries and gives them an opportunity and an incentive to grapple with issues that span the millennia. Younger children may be impressed by the drama, the special effects and the beautiful music, but may have a hard time following the plot. In addition, they will lose patience with some of the longer segments dealing with space exploration. (The special effects used by Kubrick were revolutionary in their day, but will seem commonplace to children raised on Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Even 12-year olds may not appreciate the subtle references to political rivalries and intrigue on earth, the cover-up of mysterious developments on the moon, or the more ironic aspects of the clash between man and machine (HAL the computer plaintively crying that he is afraid and that he can feel his mind going is a poignant example). But most teenagers cannot help but be swept up in this film, which stretches their minds and gives them mysteries and uncertainty instead of endings where everything is neatly tied up with a bow. As kids strive to deal with the uncertainty of the ending, and fill in its gaps and illuminate its gray areas by drawing upon their own personality and sense of the world, they are on their way to appreciating greater and more mature forms of art.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about more subtle aspects of the film they might have missed: Why is the moment the apes use tools a turning point? What does the monolith represent?