are certain films that hold a unique place in history… and Hollywood
had better keep their grubby, remaking mitts off of them! While the
trend to “re-imagine” or “re-envision” everything around them has been
going on for some time, these films have so far managed to escape the
fate of some of their less fortunate compatriots. We speak of course
The 25 Movies They’d Better Never Remake.
hearts, they should be considered OFF-LIMITS to those jerks at the
studios. The films on this list were special when they premiered and
continue to be so today, and we’re going to explain why they shouldn’t
be remade – as well as why they can’t be. So enough jabbering, on with
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
DIRECTED BY: Stanley Kubrick
STARRING: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain (voice)
At the dawn of the 21st Century, mankind has already begun the colonization of space by establishing a moon base. When a lunar excavation unearths a Monolith that is believed to have been buried for four million years, it raises questions not easily answered by science. When the Monolith begins a sudden transmission aimed towards Jupiter, the Americans send a ship – the Discovery One – to investigate. What is found there changes the course of human history.
When 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in April of 1968, it was met with a mixture of confusion and awe. Critics were divided in their opinions of the film, with some feeling it was an achievement of historic proportions, while others felt it was “third-rate” when compared to other, more experimental films of the time. Even now the debate rages, as new generations discover one of the most famous, discussion-inducing films ever made. No matter which side of the debate you hail from, the fact that more than 40 years after its release 2001 still inspires conversation is an achievement in and of itself.
Built on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke called The Sentinel, the film would go on to explore concepts movies at the time weren’t even .aware of: evolution, ancient alien contact and its presupposed affect on mankind’s development, space travel and how it affects families, the dependency on Artificial Intelligence, and so forth. Themes involving birth and death would be interwoven across space and time in such a staggering manner even today it takes several viewings just to ingest it all. I don’t mean ‘comprehending’ everything – that doesn’t come until much, much later, if at all – but rather there’s so much depth to the film that it’s easy to overlook a lot of what is really going on inside the movie.
It forces you to pay attention, and in a film the size and scope of 2001 that’s a very difficult thing to do. To say it takes its time is a gross, gross understatement: everything in the movie seems to move slow, but that doesn’t make it boring. The film relies on its ability to carefully craft the tale it’s presenting, and never allows itself to become bogged down with mundane character moments or trite dialogue. The way in which dialogue is used is a great example of how sparingly and delicate this sort of thing can be used as a great storytelling device. 2001 doesn’t allow the dialogue to drive the story so much as it uses it to punctuate moments or points in the narrative where it is needed. That’s a tricky and risky thing to do, which is probably why no other mainstream movie has yet to attempt it on the scale of 2001. By allowing the kernel of the plot to breathe in between the music and effects, Kubrick (and Clarke) allows the viewer to contemplate and decipher the “truth” behind the events taking place without bashing you over the head with over-explanations and obvious reveals.
Beyond the story other elements were in play that helped make 2001 the Sacred Cow that it is. Kubrick’s use of classical music instead of a more traditional Hollywood score was a stroke of genius that nearly didn’t happen: he had originally commissioned his Spartacus composer (Alex North) to write original music for 2001, before abandoning this idea fairly early on without telling North (who was obviously distraught over this). By using timeless classical music, it helps preserve the immortal nature of the movie.
The effects still look incredible to this day, and it’s amazing that Kubrick had the time and effort to personally supervise these, along with Douglas Trumbull, Con Pedersen and Wally Veevers. It’s well documented that Kubrick was a pioneer in the use of front projection techniques in order to get the shots he wanted, but his innovation didn’t stop there. The Star Gate scene at the end was also instrumental in paving new grounds in the world of Special Effects. The swirling, expanding beams of light that burst on the screen was achieved by using Trumbull’s Slit Scan machine, which allowed them to capture two nearly-infinite planes of exposure in order to get the effect they wanted. Other elements, like the floating pen, were achieved using more traditional means (in this case, the pen was attached to a pane of glass that was rotated), but the results that were farmed from the old and new ways married together in a uniquely wonderful manner.
By having a host of advisors, both technical as well as scientific, Kubrick strove to make the most scientifically perfect movie he could. I think it’s safe to say he achieved this and is a prime reason why 2001 can never be remade: Hollywood is incapable of making films this accurate and realistic. The fact that Kubrick was able to get away with it in his day speaks more to how film making has changed in the 40+ years since its release, and is a huge reason why 2001: A Space Odyssey should remain a Sacred Cow.
- The opening cry of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra is beyond iconic.
Dawn of Man sequence is incredible and bold, it sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
- Seeing Space Station V rotate slowly in space, accompanied by Johanne Strauss’ On the Beautiful Blue Danube.
- The lunar base sequence featuring Ligeti’s Requiem is harrowing and wonderful at the same time.
- The first introduction of HAL, with his wonderfully dulcet tones.
- The scene where HAL lipreads Bowman and Poole’s plans for shutting him down. It helps underscore the dangers of relying too much on computers, as well as the notion that any being – artificial or not – has the right to self-preservation.
- “Open the pod bay doors, HAL”
- The deactivation of HAL, as he sings Daisy Bell, is heartbreaking and helps humanize the machine to a level the audience can relate to.
- The entire Star Gate sequence. It’s a mind trip of cosmic light that doesn’t require drugs in order to appreciate it. Groundbreaking at the time it’s still an amazing thing to see, especially with Ligeti’s Atmosphéres aiding the presentation.
- Bowman finding himself age through various stages, before ultimately encountering the Monolith at the foot of his bed.
- The Star Child.
No one in their right mind would ever remake 2001: A Space Odyssey, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood before? A film like 2001, that revels in its refusal to explain anything, could never exist in the modern film making world. The studios would demand that mysteries be spelled out specifically, because modern audiences are unable to sit through 148 minutes worth of abstract symbolism – or so they believe. A new version would become an embarrassment to whomever undertook it, as it’s absolutely impossible to live up to not just the reputation of the original, but also the innovation and story it produced. You need look no further than 2010: The Year We Make Contact. It isn’t a bad film on its own, it just has the misfortune of being a follow-up to one of the greatest films ever made, and is a perfect example of trying to explain way too much. It doesn’t retain the tone or feel of 2001, nor should it have tried, but it gives a good template of how a remake of A Space Odyssey would turn out.
Bay’s been producing remakes all over town, using his Platinum Dunes
company as a front. So naturally he’d be the logical choice to spearhead
any attempt at remaking this classic. How would it pan out, you ask?
- Shorten this bitch, have it clock in at a brisk 80 minutes.
- Who needs music from a bunch of old dead dudes: bring on some Diane Warren tunes!
- It sucks that there are no roads in the film, so let’s have HAL get in a space craft and chase Bowman and the Discovery around space for a while.
- Speaking of space, slow-moving spaceships are boring and old school: everything’s getting sped up x10.
- Did someone just mention HAL? Let’s make him into a humanoid android character with Seth Rogen’s voice.
- Allow Len Wiseman to direct it.
I’ve seen 2001 at least 12 times and have come away with different theories each time – but that does nothing to diminish the enjoyment of this masterpiece. It speaks volumes of the power of the film that I love this movie. There are thousands of articles where people have tried to decipher the meaning behind the Star Child and Bowman’s metamorphosis, but I’ve found it’s better to watch 2001 on your own and come to your own conclusions. Kubrick and Clarke have said there’s no right answer, and this is a perfect film to get with other people who appreciate it and discuss it.
After all, that’s what a Sacred Cow is designed to do in the first place – EVEN WE DID IT A FEW YEARS AGO.
Rebuttal: No way, no how.
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