Tuesday, September 29, 2009

<2001 A Space Odyssey>, the beginning of the cosmos mise-en-scene

I was so shocked very seriously when I see "Star Wars 4, New Hope", the beginning of series of Star wars, at the first time. The description of the imaginary cosmos world was not only so great and gigantic but was full of creative spaces. After a few years, a film was more shocking to me than ever. That is "2001 A Space Odyssey". First of all, the fact it is made approx 10 years earlier than "Star Wars" is marvelous. It is no doubt that "Star Wars" has reference for "2001 A Space Odyssey" during its pre-production.
Then, what on earth makes "2001 A Space Odyssey" impressive and attractive?
First, there was strong effect of monochrome overall. The satellite and spaceship is covered with white color. Not only it has symbol of purity, hollowness and transparency, but it intensifies other colors. See red sofa and space suit, green bed on the white background in the movie. The contrast between the single colors is very sensitive and makes me feel everything arranged in that cosmos is in order, not confused.
Second, the most spaces are composed of high-key light. So, there is seldom shadow of the subjects. “No shadow” in the subject symbolizes many things. For one thing, it seems no volume or weight. It is suitable for imagining the infinite cosmos because there is no boundary in it. For the other thing, it represents various lights originated from sun and many stars shine overall. Therefore it seems natural that the interior rooms surrounded by the lights should have flat feeling through the high-key light.
At last, CG created the unknown space, cosmos perfectly and surprisingly. That would be
gloomy, if movie gets restriction for showing up extravagant space by shooting in only studio set. With CG, all we expect about the cosmos is accomplished for example, we
see the space station and the planet in the movie like they really exist.
In conclusion, Social Scientist and Philosopher, White Head says “Since Plato, all philosophies are his annotations.” As the admiration for Plato is so great, I would like to say this. “Since Stanley Kubrick, all movies about cosmos are his annotations.” That is because all SF movies about the cosmos have still followed conventions of mise-en-scene created by Stanley Kubrick in that effect of monochrome (especially, white color), high-key light and the cosmos represented by CG

1 comment:

J. Schneider said...


I am impressed by your insights, especially your idea about high-key lighting as a way to convey altered gravitational pull and volume. A very original observation. Your idea about whiteness in the film is also interesting, though remember that symbolic value is not static - it changes from one context to the next.

You should work on presenting a clear, crisp argument right at the beginning of your post. Your introduction (Star Wars, etc) is not relevant enough. If you were developing this as a draft of your final essay I would tell you to cut that and get straight to your argument.

Let's talk further if any of this is unclear.