Warner Home Video
Review by Gary W. Tooze
Audio: Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus English 5.1, DUBs: French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, none
Commentary by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood
Channel 4 documentary: 2001: The Making of a Myth (43:04)
Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 (21:23)
Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 (21:30)
2001: A Space Odyssey - A Look Behind the Future (4:3 - 23:10- vintage clip)
What is Out There (20:40)
2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork (9:26 with Christine Kubrick)
Look: Stanley Kubrick! (3:14)
Audio-only interview with Stanley Kubrick conducted by Jeremy Bernstein (1:16:24)
Released: October 23rd, 2007
HD-DVD/Blu-ray standard case
Director Stanley Kubrick's heralded masterpiece '2001: A Space Odyssey' immediately informs the viewers of its grandeur with a realistically derived vision of human evolution. The first segment entitled "The Dawn of Man" documents our ancestors maintaining sustenance through clan support, and food foraging. The story, based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel, naturally includes a strong fictional element proposing a single event that initiated the turning point of the ascension of humankind. Somewhere in the course of our history, a single ancestor came to the realization of his ability to use a 'tool'. Initially it was effective as a weapon in hunting and reacquisition of a watering-hole from neighboring pre-hominids. This unexplainable cognitive step distinctly separates us from every known living organism in the universe that we inhabit. To see it transpire onscreen is one of the great moments of intellectually derived cinema. To simply state that visually it is awe-inspiring is to diminish its importance. What we are seeing is a recreation of the most important event in human history.
The entire film, at its crux, is proclaiming our infancy as a species. In our exploration of the endless frontier of space, we may feel technologically advanced, but Kubrick shows cinematically that we are mere children and like infants must once again learn to walk, to eat and to go to the toilet.
Initially the Dawn of Man sequence looked significantly darker to me - so much so I was investigating edge-enhancement - this was really some down-conversion problems I has experiencing. It is dark at times - but not untoward. I also noted some green early on that I wasn't aware of in the 2-disc SE. I'm happy to report that these issues are the only negatives I had about the presentation. Those heavily into hi-def DVD often comment about a 3-D depth that the image can sometimes export. Yes, 2001: A Space Odyssey in hi-def - the most awaited release of the year - has instances of that three dimensional richness. And when you see it - it's almost unnerving! I'm not saying the hi-def image is without flaw but it looks very satisfying to me. It may be the legitimate push to go hi-def that many people have been waiting for.
Video: NOTE: These captures were obtain directly from the Blu-ray disc.
It appears even darker than the 2-disc Special Edition but I suspect this is more representative of how it looked theatrically (which I saw 3 times - but the last was 20 years ago). Colors appear true and bright (HAL's eye and other Kubrick reds duly significant) - detail is marvelous. There are hardly any instances of digital interference. Aside from a few moments of heavier green in the Dawn of Man and blue in the later space sequences - this DVD looks very strong. I played specific scenes from the 2-disc Special Edition back-to-back and there is no question the hi-def looks superior - at times vastly so. I included a few larger caps at the bottom to help convey the density of the image.
NOTE: We understand there is a huge delay as the estimate of orders was obviously short of fulfillment from many locations. Don't let this deter you - 2001 has never looked better digitally. Get in the queue - it will be worth the wait.
CLICK EACH CAPTURE TO SEE FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION
The HD supports the usual audio - a TrueHD English 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital Plus English 5.1 sounding duplicated to the 5.1 track on the SE - plus DUBs in French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The TrueHD sounded a shade more buoyant and pure playing Also Sprach Zarathustra or The Blue Danube and the rest of the score by György Ligeti. Dialogue audio is very consistent and supported by English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, or Portuguese, subtitles, in a white font with black border (sample above).
The same as the SD Special Edition - Firstly we have a full commentary by the stars of the film; Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. Expectantly this is not the technical commentary that many may have wished for but I don't have a clue who would tackle that monster anyway. Keir and Gary are quite good and express some decent intelligence about the film - their breakthrough's - Kubrick the man and some of the production details - how 'Kubrick never gave actors advice but did a lot of retakes' type thing. It is fairly light but adds another layer to further appreciation of the film. There are also 4 featurettes. First up - Channel 4 did a 45 minute documentary entitled 2001: The Making of a Myth. It has a lot of input from many sources involved with the film and some stuff on the storyboards. Lots of sound bites and talking heads imparting extensive knowledge. I enjoyed this. Next we have a 20 minute featurette - Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 detailing some of the impact of 2001 on the entire film industry. This was also appealing for me and fans may also get something out of it. Another 20 minute featurette titled Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 shows some of the anticipated future imagery of 2001 vs. what really transpired. Next we have a vintage clip (from NASA?) 2001: A Space Odyssey - A Look Behind the Future - this is 4:3 and very scratchy - kind of humorous in a way. What is Out There is another 20 minute bit with Keir Dullea heading the discussion with some technical input as well. 2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork is 10 minutes long and has input from such as Christiane Kubrick on the look of some of the artwork in the surreal space journey sequence. Look: Stanley Kubrick! is a 3 minute montage of images from Kubrick photography/LOOK magazine. Finally there is an audio-only interview with Stanley Kubrick involved - it runs 1 1/4 hours. There is also theatrical trailer running 1:51.
Big thumbs up all around. We knew Warner would do it rightand they didn't disappoint. I feel like this is one of the few titles that will make my collection absolutely complete (it may be another lifetime till Antonioni, Bresson and Ozu make the leap to hi-def). Only a technical commentary could be wished for - but perhaps that will surface one day - in the meantime dim the room while you watch and listen to the glory of one of the great works in cinema history. I'm going to view again tonight... with a large scotch - you are welcome to join me.
NOTE: We have replaced the initial captures with ones ripped directly from the Blu-ray. Both HD and Blu-ray use the same VC-1 encode with duplicate content/supplements.