Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Essential Cinema - 30

2010: The Year We Make Contact

Roy Scheider
John Lithgow
Helen Mirren
Bob Balaban
Keir Dullea
Douglas Rain

Peter Hyams

Arthur C. Clarke
Peter Hyams

Peter Hyams

A joint Russian / U.S. mission returns to Jupiter to try and determine what happened to the first mission sent there 9 years earlier. The fate of the first mission is unknown and the mysteries it was sent to solve remain unanswered.

Wrapping up the loose ends and learning to overcome our differences in order to work together. There are things in the universe much larger than the petty differences that divide us. A wake up call for humanity to stop fighting and play nice.

First of all, you can't talk about this film without discussing the film that came before it. Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is a landmark in cinema. It redefined the concept of science fiction and pushed the envelope of film making way past its limits. In that regard, this film does not measure up. It cant, but it is a worthy effort.

I always heard that you had to read the book to really understand "2001: A Space Odyssey". After seeing it 4 or 5 times, I finally read the book and they were right. What I thought I knew about the first film finally came into sharp focus after reading Arthur C. Clarke's book. Clarke went on to write several follow up books to "2001: A Space Odyssey". This film is based on one of those books.

This film is a bit dated because, like the original, the future didn't turn out the way we thought it would. As the film opens, the Soviet Union and the United States are on the brink of war. Something that never happened with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 90s. I recall being disappointed when Pan-American Airlines went out of business, because one of my dreams of seeing a real spaceliner with the Pan-Am logo from the first film was never going to be realized. Such was the power of the vision that Kubrick gave us with "2001: A Space Odyssey".

The premise of this film is logical. We go back to figure out what happened to Astronaut Bowman and the HAL-9000, not to mention figuring out what the huge monolith was. The story telling and the visuals are all up to par in this film, although the film is a bit more formulaic as opposed to the stark and calculating story telling of "2001: A Space Odyssey".

In the end, the astronauts get to witness the act of cosmic reproduction on a planetary scale and in so doing, learn that we are very small in relation to the big picture. So small in fact, that they understand we are just parasites in a vast living universe. This film tends to serve as a reminder, that on an evolutionary scale, we are only at the beginning and have long, long way to go.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which can be viewed here.