It's been longer than I thought since I've watched "2001", and I really enjoyed this IMAX screening. Sometimes you see a movie in conditions that are so perfect, it feels like you've never really seen the movie before.
Kubrick has said that his intention for the film was for the viewer to have their own experience and make their own deeper meaning behind the plot points of the story. Here's what I came away with from this viewing:
Start with the name. If this is an Odyssey in the Homerian sense, then it's an epic journey to return home. That could mean David Bowman's journey back to earth. Or maybe it's an evolutionary return "home". I was struck by the monolith's agency in the evolution of humans. In the past, I saw the monolith as passively witnessing key points in human evolution, but I think it is more actively involved. So if the monolith is an alien intelligence providing the spark for humanity's ancestors to begin using tools which eventually leads to the invention of space travel and humans going "beyond the infinite" to become a higher order intelligence themselves just like the aliens (follow that?), then that can be a kind of homecoming too.
I noticed this time that the section where Heywood Floyd travels to the space station and then the moon does not get its own title like the other sections of the film. I think it's safe to read that section as a continuation of "The Dawn of Man". That is, man doesn't truly become man until we learn how to leave Earth. In fact, you can see lots of parallels between the apes' behavior and the humans' behavior.
In the same section, the way Kubrick lingers on his illusions of zero gravity or artificial gravity (from spinning) is almost fetishistic. If it wasn't Kubrick, you could almost think he was showing off ("Look how cool this is!"). But I think it was a conscious choice to illustrate the contrast between the first technological development (using a bone as a tool/weapon) and technology that was even beyond the audiences of the time. As if he was saying, look how differently technology seems but it's really just the same thing (in the language of film, the bone literally turns into the space station). The contrast is therefore ironic.
When Dave kills HAL and HAL is pleading for his life, I felt my own mortality and deep fears of dying, enough that I actually got choked up. It's a strange thing knowing you will end and cease to exist someday. How will I meet that end? With fear or with peace?
Dave's accelerating aging process at the end mirrors my own experience of aging. Just as he would catch a glimpse of an older version of himself and then instantly become that version, I find myself periodically realizing that I am older in years than I think or feel I am. "Holy crap, how did I get to be 30? College felt like it was yesterday." Fast forward to "How the heck has it been 10 years since I moved to Pennsylvania?" Fast forward to "Fuck, I'm almost 50. I likely have fewer years ahead of me than behind me."
Seeing the trip through the star gate in IMAX was crazy. The sound. Damn. The low frequency rumble was so intense I felt like the ground was ripping apart. In the past, my analytical mind has taken over during this section, either trying to decipher meaning or observing how beautiful it looks or wondering how the heck Kubrick created it without CGI. But this time the experience was almost entirely sensory and emotional. I felt awe and fear, just like the character must have been feeling.
Worth every penny of the $22 ticket. Makes me wonder what other movies might be enhanced by IMAX.