The Brutal Reaction Audiences Had To 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Premiere
It’s a matter of records: At the film’s premiere in 1968, 241 people came out, including Rock Hudson, who was overheard saying, “Will someone tell me what this is?” Or, more colorfully, “What are these bulls ***?” Although that might be apocryphal.
Indeed, the general attitude of the atmosphere immediately after the premiere was that Kubrick had achieved an impressive technical achievement without making an actual film, you know. It was not traditional mainstream entertainment, but a heady and ambitious work of art and philosophy. Which, as a cynic might take for granted, has not been adopted by the general public. Kubrick ended up shortening the movie a good 20 minutes after the premiere. According to connoisseurs, all that was lost was a second Pod streak similar to the first. As it stands, the 140-minute version does not seem incomplete.
Most critics of the time noted the notorious opacity of “2001”, whether to praise it or castigate it. The New York Times review placed it somewhere between majestic and boring. Roger Ebert noted that there were many walkouts at the premiere (which he attended), but defended the experience, knowing that those with patience had witnessed something deep and d ‘important. However, Newsweek critic Joe Morgenstern was particularly harsh, saying the film starts off as “a whimsical space operetta, then frantically inflates again for a surreal climax in which the imagery is just obscure enough to be boring, just right. precise enough to be trivial. “I admire Morgenstern, but ouch.
For the record, this has also been the reaction of many of my peers throughout my own life. Some friends and colleagues have said they enjoy the groundbreaking music, images and special effects of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, but start to flounder when asked to explain the themes of the film or even the elements of it. basis of its history. As a friend pointed out, this is the only sci-fi epic with a long run in the pre-human world (although since that statement was made we have also witnessed “The Tree of Life “by Terrence Malick). Another peer, to this day, calls the movie the biggest waste of time he’s ever spent in a theater, and it was a friend that I saw “Spawn” with.
The 1968 review in The Guardian illustrates the mixed attitudes of the time, calling it beautiful to look at, but lacking some spark of originality, and most certainly impossible to penetrate. The reviewer felt that Kubrick and Clarke hadn’t thought about things.