Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2001 - Mise en scene

2001: A Space Odyssey is often considered a revolutionary film not only in the science fiction genre, but in the overall complexion of cinematic history. Stylistically, science fiction is among the most recognizable genres in film, and at first glance 2001 appears to adhere to its traditional staples. Although the film utlilizes the conventional motifs of space travel and technology, Kubrick crafts the mise en scene of 2001 to scrupulously explore each of these concepts.

Among the most indicative techniques used by Kubrick in 2001 is the long shot. The long shot sacrifices minor details in favor of observing the big picture, both of which prove to be conducive to the statements being made in this film. Sacrificing minor detail reduces the impression of human presence, while the big picture reveals the ideologies that have replaced it and become dominant instead. With the long shot the frame can focus on its subject while also observing the largest possible scope that depicts the elements that are influential to the subject's surroundings. In 2001, however, the elements are few. Instead the subject is enveloped in a seemingly endless environment.

This technique is integral because it relates back to Kubrick's commentary on the concepts of space travel and technology. With the long shot, characters are rendered almost completely helpless, either within the infinite emptiness of space or the overwhelming complexity of their technology. The film uses these two concepts almost interchangeably, encouraging parallels between the two especially when it comes to what cannot be grasped or overpowered. Scenes outside of the ship portray an abyss so vast that it is unfathomable. Likewise, characters' unquestioning reliance on the superior technology within the ship is expressed by the fact that the sea of machines within the frame are indistinguishable from one another.

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