Special Effects in 2001: a Space Odyssey

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Most films today rely on dialogue to further the narrative, allowing characters to explain what is happening at all times. In Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, dialogue is purposely minimal. In fact, the opening and closing sections of the film have absolutely NO dialogue whatsoever, amounting to nearly one hour of no spoken word. This kind of "deafening quiet" had not been known in movies since the silent film era, however this does not mean the story remains stagnant. Like in the silent film days, Kubrick relied on alternate measures to further the narrative, including stark visuals, classical music composition, and sometimes even the silence itself. Before we completely forget the dialogue though, it should be noted that the…show more content…
While we all know that Poole is probably trying to scream for his life, he cannot. The image is a morbid one, and it almost feels like the lack of screaming makes the scene even creepier. Traditionally when someone is being killed, we hear screaming. Without that, we are left only to imagine what kind of terror he was facing. On the ship, sound effects are still simple, never going beyond a simple beep or hum. Another morbid scene that actually combines sound and image is when the other astronauts are being murdered. We hear a shrill alarm, paired with visuals of the life support functions flat lining. Instead of being swift, "broken neck" fatalities, it takes some time for all of the life support functions to cease. All the while, we are faced with the shrill alarm. When someone dies, we get an overhead view of the coffin-like hibernation chamber, and no struggle is observed. The alarm stops once all the hibernating astronauts are dead and we are presented with the message "LIFE FUNCTIONS TERMINATED." The silence resumes, further highlighting the tension of the entire situation. In a nod towards how films were once presented (without dialogue), Kubrick intentionally uses sound and images to move the story forward. Sometimes, even the lack of a captivating sound or image was used to enhance the other. The result is a cinematic masterpiece that has yet to be duplicated or

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