on 27 February 2011
There have been myriad critiques written attempting to explain (or even comprehend) Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey since its theatrical release in 1968, and while I haven't examined these papers exhaustively, I do enjoy reading up on the various interpretations of its themes as well as production history, as it is such a rich one...and Peter Kramer's volume, though slim in girth, towers like a monolith with the best of these analyses.
Along with a compulsively readable style (rather uncommon in film criticism), Kramer expounds on the film's vague and unusual-for-its-time plot, and even extrapolates a few enlightening theories of his own- though some, he acknowledges in his annotations, have been culled from various sources. The parallel drawn between the mysteries inherent within the vertical black rectangular slab and those within the film itself as projected on a horizontal white rectangular slab (the movie screen), as well as analysis of the audience's incumbent participatory relationship to the film's "Beyond the Infinite" sequence, were especially illuminating.
I've read a number of BFI entries over the past few years, and they do vary greatly in terms of "quality", i.e. they all follow different paths from inception to completion of their respective films; some tend to meander off on tangents from the subject's critique, while others remain bogged down on the intricacies of the plot or even reception of the film upon its release. Rarely has one of them portrayed every pertinent stage of a film's genesis with such eloquence along with compelling ideas on its visuals, music and dialogue (sparse, in this case) as this one does.
I offer Peter Kramer's succinct book the highest compliment: it made me yearn to experience 2001 again as soon as possible, this time accompanied by a wonderful new outlook on perhaps the most wondrous film of all.
on 3 October 2010
Krämer's contribution to the now substantial BFI Film Classics series is an exemplary piece of film scholarship, devoid of the obscurity, pretension and risible jargon that renders so much academic film writing inaccessible to general readers. Drawing on original and often surprising research in the recently opened Kubrick Archive, his book tells the story of 2001's creation and improbable box office success. But Krämer's traightforward yet sophisticated analysis doesn't neglect this ostensibly ambiguous movie's implicit meaning. Thoroughly recommended.
on 17 January 2014
This is a really great in-depth overview and analysis. All the positive aspects of this book have been covered well by the 5 star reviews but I feel I should mention one minor issue I had: The book didn't include as wide a range of theories and interpretations as I was hoping for. For example, I wanted to find out more about the food and eating shown throughout the film. I think just one line in the book alludes to this but I feel that this theme must have some significance especially as this would've been deliberate on Kubrick's part. This is just one of a few theories, which many consider valid, that gets overlooked. Nonetheless, I enjoyed everything else about this book and would definitely recommend it.
on 22 May 2014
Possibly the most important book about '2001' wrote in the last two decades or so. Drawing for the first time from the Kubrick Archive in London, the author explains why and how Kubrick moved from the first intended "documentary about space exploration" to the somewhat obscure masterpiece that we know today. I only wished that it was longer than 96 pages, but it's dense and extremely informative, as no books (waiting for Bizony's last "Making of Kubrick's 2001") ever tapped the London Archive sources in such detail. Also, the notes are extremely well-writen and essential for a scholar who wishes to visit the archive and check the original sources. A must buy for anyone interested in serious studies about the movie (therefore, not recommended for those who still debate about the 'true meaning' of the movie).