It’s Gone All 2001
10 movies that tried to emulate the ground-breaking/baffling (delete according to art-house cinema threshold) climax to 2001: A Space Odyssey
It was the ultimate trip. Or the ultimate snooze, depending on what frame of mind you’re in (or what you’ve been smoking, or how many shots of pink mountains you can stand in a film). The finale to 2001 is one of the most controversial, enigmatic and beguiling sequences in cinema history. A nine-minute version of the Doctor Who opening titles accompanied by the sound of a bee stuck in a dustbin, followed by some weird shit in a luxury hotel room with an astronaut watching himself age and climaxing with a giant foetus floating towards Earth, it has managed to provoke more discussion, argument, interpretation, contempt and admiration than six seasons of Lost.
But love it, hate it, or simply unable to know what to make of it, there’s no doubt that it’s a landmark of SF cinema. Audacious and uncompromising, it demands some kind of reaction from the viewer. And it has also been amazingly influential. Its combination of psychedelic imagery, religious allusion* and baffling concepts have often been imitated, but never quite matched.** Some SF films have just swiped elements of it, others have copied it wholesale, some have missed the point completely and one, in particular, appeared to use it as an inspiration for the last two thirds of the plot…
So, let’s take a look at the culprits… Warning: there will by necessity be plot spoilers.
* To be honest, on one level 2001 is one of the most athiestic films imaginable, but you can’t deny there are biblical allusions – the monolith as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, rebirth and resurrection, etc, etc – almost as if it’s saying the intervention of the “aliens” has been reinterpreted as religion. Erm, excuse this developing into pseud’s corner, the film has that effect on you.
** One of the great ironies of cinema history is that the sequel 2010 was a film that didn’t try to emulate its predecessor in this regard, which was probably a good idea.
Tags: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Altered States, Contact, Dante 01, Hot, Knowing, Mission To Mars, Phase IV, Speed Racer, Star Trek, Sunshine, The Black Hole