It's a movie geek's film to watch and to enjoy. But when I reached the end, I had no idea what to take from it.
Some of the ideas are amazing, the visuals, and the lines (I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that) are brilliant. But why is it considered such a great film, while at the same time having no defined meaning or interpretation?
As discussed on Wikipedia, Kubrick stated:
You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don't want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he's missed the point.
I still stand by this remark, which does not mean one can't enjoy the movie completely the first time around. What I meant was, of course, that because we were dealing with the mystery of the universe, and with powers and forces greater than man's comprehension, then by definition they could not be totally understandable. Yet there is at least one logical structure—and sometimes more than one—behind everything that happens on the screen in "2001", and the ending does not consist of random enigmas, some simpleminded critics to the contrary.
Freeman Dyson urged:
"After seeing Space Odyssey, I read Arthur Clarke's book. I found the book gripping and intellectually satisfying, full of the tension and clarity which the movie lacks. All the parts of the movie that are vague and unintelligible, especially the beginning and the end, become clear and convincing in the book. So I recommend to my middle-aged friends who find the movie bewildering that they should read the book; their teenage kids don't need to."
So is it a case of just having to read the book to 'get it'?