The other day I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time and it is cetainly a film that splits audiences if ever there was one. Personally I thought it was an audacious piece of cinema and after ruminating on it for a while the first words that came to mind were: monumental, disorientating, meandering and immediate.All these elements coalesced together to form a wonderful bit of cinema.
Unsurprisingly I preferred the book though. Okay so that may seem to be a tad biased but I have my reasons. It mainly centres on the narrative, whereas the film feel a little disjointed at times, the book, elaborates, explains and to a certain extent humanizes the entire experience.
Naturally, you will notice that it is now a slightly out of date story, happily seminal sci-fi never gets old and this story of an ancient monolith found on the moon that points the way to a (possible) answering of the question are we alone? has retained that ability to thrill, in any era.
The book and the film do differ significantly to say the screen play was co written by Clarke who wrote the novel in conjunction with the film, but overall I would recommend the book first, as that will flesh out the film and give you a better insight into the ideas that they were trying to convey especially that end scene, the final fifteen minutes, which get very Nietzschean with his idea of the ‘superman’. Perhaps that is unfair to the film though, it would be tough for any film to convey the epic scope of the ideas contained within the novel.
The book definitely feels much more personal than the film and has more scope to make you think, indeed the title Odyssey is not without a certain Homeric vibe, with the idea of heroic journey ans the sense of the vastness of space is palpable. All the BIG questions humanity has ever asked whilst looking up at the sky are given a mention and as a treat for book readers, they get a different destination to the film viewers, as at the time it was to deemed to difficult to explain the slingshot maneuver to an audience.
If you read this I do recommend trying out the Ste J idea of method of reading and getting yourself somewhere quiet and isolated. Especially for the ending,which is one of the most memorable I’ve so far come across, and I’ve read more than four books. Finally HAL 9000 is the best computer character ever conceived (that I have so far read about)
and when you realise 2001 was amazing, pick up 2010: Odyssey two which is equally as good, if not better than the first which is very impressive in itself.