So far, this is my favorite of Tom Gale’s Christmas posters, which twists classic movie posters into a little something for the holidays. In true form, Tom also makes you think — and his comments below have made me think so much, I’ll blog my own comments a little later.
Here’s Tom with a science fiction classic . . .
Somehow I managed to see Star Wars AFTER I saw Close Encounters of a Third Kind. In fact the only reason I saw Star Wars was because Richard Burton’s Equus was sold out that night and Star Wars, which had been running forever by that time, was in the next theater and I thought, “What the heck.” OK, so I almost missed being in on the biggest space movie craze of all time; but I had good reasons. I was still heavily into science fiction at the time and felt, wrongly but honestly, that worthy films in the genre were the strictly serious ones. It had all began, of course, with “2001: A Space Odyssey” a few years before. Soon after it was “The Andromeda Strain” then “Silent Running” sometime in the mid-seventies and finally “Close Encounters” just weeks before I encountered the Star Wars phenomena. So I was wrong about “Star Wars” and thankful I was dragged in to see it on its first run. But “2001 A Space Odyssey” still holds a special place in my heart as a uniquely disquieting and utterly beautiful “serious” movie experience.
I admit that Kubrick film, perhaps like my writing and accordion solos, is an acquired taste. Slow going in many places to the point of torpidity, the film seems to crawl through vast distances of silence to a place that ultimately leaves us pondering the fact that the more we know the less we seem to understand. I remember many people leaving the theater after “Space Odyssey” either a bit miffed or outright puzzled, “What the heck was THAT all about?” But I had already read the book, so I went into the theater with an advantage and could settle back to just experience the film without having to make sense of it. I already knew somewhat where it was going. And so I settled back to enjoy the piece as spectacle and was simply bowled over. On the big screen it was staggeringly beautiful and its slow pace was exactly what made it majestic and overwhelming. Somewhat like “Koyaanisqatsi”, the stunning and somewhat impenetrable film scored by Philip Glass, “2001” is a movie that you sit back and soak up as an experience of sight and sound. Leave the hustle bustle of life at the door; you can’t hurry through this one.
But if you take the time, “2001” is extremely satisfying. And if you prefer your movies to have easier answers, then immediately after, watch Peter Hyman’s more accessible and faster paced sequel, “2010: The Year We Make Contact.” It’s a completely different experience but it does fill in some gaps and has Roy Scheider and Helen Mirren who are always great to watch.
Of course this is a great metaphor for the season. The holidays are not to be rushed or hurried through, even though that’s exactly what so many of us do. If we want to get the most out of the season, we need to experience it like “2001”, slowly and thoughtfully, allowing the meaning of our celebration percolate through us and giving us time to savor and absorb. So try to find some time to slow down this holiday and leave the daily travails outside the door. Bundle up with your loved ones and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” then stick in “2001 a Space Odyssey.” You can make a connection between the two if only you remember to keep focused on the stars.
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