Cinematic Components Fuel Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Introduction

It is a sin to write this.  Mr. Stanley Kubrick told me so:

2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialog. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content.1

-Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey certainly bypasses verbalized pigeonholing, but that doesn’t mean the film defies explanation and discussion.  The present piece will analyze how Kubrick succeeds at the rather lofty goal of creating this  “visual experience” by looking at three key cinematic components that Kubrick uses to tell this story.  First, we’ll look at aural components like dialogue, music, and soundtrack.  Then, we’ll delve into the visual components like special effects and cinematography.  Finally, we’ll deal with thematic components, focusing on Kubrick’s use of archetypes.  Together, these components produce a rare beauty: a pure expression of cinema and the power that it has to inspire the imagination.

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Pablo Larraín’s “Jackie” Hinges on Natalie Portman’s Stellar Performance

No film in recent memory lionizes a performance quite like Pablo Larraín’s Jackie.  The entire film embraces Natalie Portman’s expert depiction of the iconic first lady.  Portman’s performance has a imitative style to it, complete with specific elocution, affect, and emotion – all of which she delivers with a quiet and confident ferocity.  Larraín takes full advantage of Portman’s talent by framing most of the film in close ups, a stylistic choice that instills the spectator with a deep empathy.  Even the structure of the narrative reflects Portman’s performance:  thoroughly non-linear, the disjointed organization conveys and cements the confusion that Jackie is experiencing.  Portman’s nonesuch portrayal completely fuels Larraín’s film, and is responsible for the heights it reaches.

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“Spartacus” – the Three-Headed Triumph of Douglas, Trumbo, and Kubrick

The third essay in a year-long analysis of the films of Stanley Kubrick.  Check out the schedule and explanation here, where you can also find links to all the completed pieces.

Introduction

Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas and written by Dalton Trumbo, may be the best Swords-and-Sandals story ever put to film.  The film is a powerhouse but is easily the least “Kubrickian” film in all of the great director’s filmography.  This is mostly due to Kubrick sharing control with Douglas, who produced the film and had final cut, and the writer Dalton Trumbo.  In this piece, I’ll detail the circumstances surrounding this intense collaboration, starting with the political climate and background of the film.  I’ll continue on with the story and characters developed by Trumbo and Douglas and finish with Kubrick’s stylistic contributions to the film.  Though all three creators approached the film with their own intentions and goals, they were still able to produce an irrefutable classic.

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Jinn, Wartime, and Metaphor in the Amazing “Under the Shadow”

And the jinn we created before from scorching fire.
– Quran 15:27 “The Rocky Tract”

Symbolism and metaphor are powerful weapons against oppression, and can also illuminate complex and unbearable situations like war and the subjugation of women.  Writer-director Babak Anvari’s debut feature Under the Shadow is a intelligent film that takes full advantage of the setting, situation, and culture of Iran in the 1980’s to spin a terrifying supernatural horror film.  Among the background of the Iran-Iraq war, the film depicts a woman and her young daughter as Tehran is bombed and a nefarious Jinn takes residence in their apartment building.  Though a supernatural horror film on the surface, Under the Shadow also boasts a rich subtext that explores ideas of misogyny, family struggles, and the gloom of wartime.

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“Split” Showcases Strong Acting Talent and Intriguing Camerawork in Shayamalan’s Best Film Since “Unbreakable”

Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller Split will not make audiences forget about the director’s most embarrassing missteps, but the film evokes The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable more than The Happening and After Earth. The film follow the abduction of three teenage girls by a man with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Known to us as “Kevin”, the man harbors 23 distinct personalities, and as some of them begin to run things, we’re confronted with a powerful force living inside Kevin – a 24th personality known only as “The Beast”.  The film is commendable for its uses of classic camera techniques to disorient the audience and ratchet up the more realistic aspects of the film, while downplaying the more fantastic and silly elements.  Aided by two spectacular performances (and a collection of other strong ones), Split is easily the best film Shyamalan has made in over a decade – and may be second only to The Sixth Sense.

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The State of Hollywood and Self-Conflict: A Review of “Birdman”

Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman, Or: (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) dedicates itself to providing commentary on the state of the dramatic arts, especially in Hollywood, while also offering a haunting, too-familiar meditation on ego and inner conflict. These two foci are married through telling the story of an actor named Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) who is desperately trying to make his mark on the New York drama scene by directing and acting in his own adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Years ago, Riggan played a superhero named, “Birdman” in a trilogy of movies that, while successful, labeled him as an unserious, talentless Hollywood actor and he desperately wishes to shed this characterization of himself.
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