Show Me A Story


I just re-watched “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Yes, again.

While doing laundry. Yes, again.

A few things hit me this last viewing, and they’ve shined some light (I hope) on movie making in general: this story is told almost entirely with and via pictures. I was making jokes about how little dialog there is in the movie, and how what dialog there is remains thoroughly unimportant.*

And this got me thinking about the way movies tell stories. In fact, they don’t “tell” stories at all. They “show” stories. People (my mom) often complain about “2001” for being so boring, but really, when you look at it, the images are saying a lot. Maybe not EVERY frame; I’m not going to argue that there isn’t a hint of fat in this movie. But, for example, during the Dawn of Man sequence, where no dialog is spoken, we are expected to figure out what’s going on. And it’s crystal clear because it is shot to be crystal clear.

Then, later, there is a super juicy but brief moment between Dave and the HAL 9000 where HAL asks Dave if he has doubts. Dave initially blinks, pauses, and then dodges the question. He just gave his answer, and we got it visually.

Show the story. I didn’t come up with the idea, but I might have come up with the phrase and I’m proud of myself.

…with all that being said, when Dave is going to manually re-enter the ship from his pod (without a helmet), why doesn’t HAL just steer the big ship to the left, or hit the gas and get out of there? He just stays there and waits? Not your best idea, super computer.

*Don’t get angry. There are important lines, sure. But really, anything that is said is secondary or less when compared to the overall effect of the movie’s visual elements. And even if you don’t love the film, the things you remember best are the visuals. One of the least quotable movies ever.


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