The idea for my analysis of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey came simply from seeing the film for the first time (coincidently) just before beginning of the academic year. I was astonished by the film’s cinematography, originality, and intrigued by its enigmatic plot. To fully grasp, moreover, to illustrate the essence of the film, what makes it so extraordinary, in writing I decided would be a great challenge for myself and a potentially ideal piece of coursework.
Reading through the ‘Ten Greatest Films Of All Time’ issue of Sight ; Sound I found my style model. Though the text itself attempts only fleetingly to analyse the content of the film, I felt it would be appropriate for since the writing style, as one would expect from Sight ; Sound, is sophisticated, readable and astute: perfect for an in-depth analysis. Therefore, my audience must have a taste for the discerning, an interest in film and elaborate, non-literary text. Moreover, taking into account the film’s well established ‘classic’ status, and my audience, it is to be assumed that the reader already has a good knowledge of the film. This takes the focus of the article away from synopsis, and firmly onto in-depth theorizing and explanation.
Before I began, I decided to re-read the rest of the feature to get a feel for the linguistic techniques used, the styles of lexis and syntax. The first thing I noticed, simply was that each text simply uses the respective film’s title as its heading. The effect this has is to create a consistent level of formality, to let the text speak for itself, sans any preconceptions on the part of the reader. Thus, I decided for the title of my text to be simply ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
Two conventions used frequently in my style model can be noted from the first sentence: “2001 is a film that not only successfully engages the imagination, but also defies all cinematic formula to create an experience that is far more enthralling than almost anything Hollywood has ever created”. Firstly, the complexity of the sentence alerts the reader to the sophisticated style and formal tone of the text. Secondly, the use of jargon implies to the reader that I, the author, have a certain level of knowledge regarding film. Both techniques are used consistently throughout the text, the result being a sound level of cohesion, and the illusion of a high level of credibility!
Choice of lexis extends beyond the use of jargon, of course. Considering that the aim of the text is partly to illustrate the experience of watching the film, it was important to ensure the film’s atmosphere was conveyed to the reader. To contrast, for instance, the film’s pacing immediately after the apes encounter the monolith (the experience of evolution) and immediately after the cut to mankind’s evolved state, the style of lexis too changed from the thrilling, “ferocious”, to the monotonous, “stagnation”. The tone of the text mirrors the tone of the film, giving the reader an understanding of how suddenly the atmosphere of the film changes.
Cohesion is also achieved through proof reading, to ensure that the text is entirely non-contradictory and by making sure that each statement is supported. The fact that 2001 strays from traditional Hollywood formula, for instance, is one presented in the first sentence, “defies all cinematic formula” and is supported throughout, “The performances are not heart-wrenchingly emotional: such dramatics would have betrayed the entire essence of the film”. Consequently, the reader is left with a consistent and accurate impression of the film’s innovations.
Considering that it is assumed the reader has already seen the film, I felt that my first draft focused too much on synopsis. The focus of the article was always to be explaining the film’s strengths and “message”, drawing examples from the film, rather than re-telling the story. Originally, I had gone through the film chapter by chapter examining the significance of every scene that seemed relevant. The two problems I faced were word count and coherence: not being able to mention Hal in the second paragraph, “The fact that Hal, the ship’s on-board computer, delivers the most moving performance isn’t coincidence” because chronologically he shouldn’t be there is very impractical taking into account the fact that he is the perfect example to draw when discussing man’s mechanisation, and that, to my audience, he wouldn’t need any introduction anyway.
Overall, I am very happy with the finished article. I enjoyed the excuse to watch the film many times over. Moreover, it explains the ambiguous, all the while remaining coherent, structured, and in-keeping with the style model’s approach. Feedback has been strong: I have showed it to a number of friends previously left in the dark by 2001, all of which now appreciate it on a much greater level than before, while those who had not seen the film were encouraged to do so, which was a fantastic reward.