Interstellar vs 2001: A Space Odyssey

Ever since it’s release in 2014, Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”, has often been compared to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

I was fairly late at watching both. Since I missed the release of 2001 by more than 30 years because I wasn’t at all close to existing around the time it was released and for the the first few years after I had started to exist, it wasn’t entirely possible for me to watch and comprehend it.
As for Interstellar, all I have to say is that I wasn’t really watching many movies when it came out. I guess it was because my internet sucked and because I was dealing with exams so I put it off for a while, since I didn’t want to ruin it by watching it in a hurry. It wouldn’t have made much difference, but since I had heard good things about it, I wanted to be relaxed and with ample time before I set about to watch it.

My reaction to both was: What the hell?

2001: A Space Odyssey,  is considered the ultimate classic and some would go as far as calling it the best one of Kubrick’s works. (Having never watched any of his others, I can’t say much on the matter.)  So it started off with a music that sounded pretty familiar and that’s all thanks to Toy Story, and after a few minutes into it I was like what the hell? That scene didn’t have to be as stretched. And my reaction was pretty similar to the one in which a woman walks along a velcro’ed path carrying a lunch tray to a sleeping guy. The scene with the apes too was unnecessarily long so I fast forwarded through it and missed the actual punchline (i.e. how they suddenly discover that a bone can be used as a melee weapon). Oh and the part at the end that is known as the “Stargate sequence” All you see for 10 minutes is landscapes with colors messed up and for what?
Other than that, the lack of a decent conclusion might make it a cool suspense for some, but for me, it makes it suck. Nothing was explained. Although the novels that were released, and the sequel that followed, and countless fan theories suggested that it was aliens leaving all those monoliths and stuff. Let’s face it though, who watched the sequel or read the novels? Not a lot of people. 

Interstellar on the contrary is, compared to 2001, full of action. The fact,  that it focuses on a guy who wants to save as much time as possible, makes sure we don’t get long blank sequences. Like I said before, I had heard a lot about it before I actually watched it, and so I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Compared to 2001, everything was pretty straightforward. The motives behind the actions were pretty clear, and all the science was correct and well explained. The story was definitely weak, and predictable too (e.g. I knew Dr. Mann would turn out to be an asshole the moment they started considering a trip to his planet.) It could have been better.
It also hurts that a movie so about science and made with the help of scientists should do stuff as stupid as falling through a black hole and ending up in your daughter’s bedroom. (It would have made more sense to explore and attempt to give a visual representation of what actually could happen if a man gets pulled into a black hole.)
And stuff was a bit far-fetched, fifth-dimensional beings obsessed with helping humanity but they also enjoy a nice gamble so they leave weird clues in a time loop. And generally movies involving time-travel in any way usually create room for logical questions that involve irrational decision by characters involving the use of time-travel. For example, why did the beings not make sure that they get to the right planet with the least amount of casualties and in the quickest way possible especially when they can move through time like we can through space.

Is Interstellar the modern day’s 2001: A Space Odyssey?

So, let’s talk about similarities between the two.

  1. Both movies show a futuristic world, and both involve space travel, and amazingly intelligent computers who are about as articulate as you or I.
  2. In both movies, humans are being guided by someone whom we cant see, and of whose nature, nothing can be deduced from the movie. The guidance however ensures progress.
    In 2001, throughout the movie, we see appearances of a black monolith. The first time it appears, apes develop tools. The second time it appears, it sends a signal which is then followed to Saturn where a third monolith appears which shows some fine scenery and by the time the sightseeing is over, the guy is old and weak, but strong enough to sense and move towards a fourth and final monolith which transforms him into a giant baby comprised of energy scarcely smaller than the earth.
    In Interstellar, the idea of a poltergeist messing with the protagonists daughter is introduced as the movie starts. Initially he knocks things over but then messages in Morse and Binary appear in the form of gaps in bookshelves and dust, not to mention the presence of a wormhole that takes the humans where they need to go in order to find a new planet to replace their apocalyptic one.
  3. 2001 has a scene that shows Dr. Floyd speaking to his daughter on earth over a video call while he is in a space-station, while Interstellar has a famously viral and fairly sentimental scene that shows Cooper going through years’ worth of video logs, featuring his children, recorded and sent from earth.
  4. At the end of Interstellar, Cooper gets sucked into a black hole and for a while we get to see an aurora of dust and debris outside. This is pretty similar to the Stargate sequence at the end of 2001 when Dave’s pod enters the monolith, and in both the scenes, the camera is constantly moving from the astronaut’s face to the scenery around him. Not to mention that by the end of the scene, both the astronauts have ditched their vessels, and get to witness some weird time travel stuff.
  5. In 2001, all of the other astronauts are dead and David continues on his adventure as a lone wolf. In Interstellar, two of the astronauts survive but well they dont stick together do they? In the end, all we get to see for a while is the male astronaut protagonist on his own solo adventure in the depths of a black neverland.
  6.  Both movies involve a guy getting killed by an artificially intelligent computer. In 2001, HAL9000 kills all of David’s fellow crewmen in order to prevent its own termination. Though technically, the ones from Interstellar didn’t pack personalities anywhere close to being evil enough to commit murder, one of them explodes in the face of one of the astronauts, instantly killing him. This happened merely due to a booby trap set by Dr. Mann after he deactivated KIPP.
  7. The fact that the computers from Interstellar, namely: TARS, CASE and KIPP, looked pretty similar to the black monoliths from 2001 does deserve a mention as well.
 

Anas Ismail Khan

 

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