For me, it was that eye -- the red sensor through which HAL watched (maybe 'monitored' is a better term) the world. I loved how that camera lens represented HAL so well -- malicious in the most subtle way due to its red color and unblinking stare -- yet passive aggressive, suggesting that, if there is any tension, it's your fault because (look into my eye) I'm as calm as can be. It's your fault you human being.
Danny Boyle's new movie, 'Sunshine', strikes me as similar to '2001' in that it's a very visual movie and has the same quietude about it. The trailers I've seen promise a movie that's dazzling to watch but also inward-looking, philosophical, and designed to make people think and generate some discussion (I think it will).
But, I've notice something that strikes me as a bit peculiar. There's one still that seems to be representing this movie -- somewhat strange for a film with so many incredible effects-driven sequences. That image is the one of Cillian Murphy looking out of some kind of portal. It's effects-free, does not imply action, and is meditative, and thus is not a natural choice for a sexy new sci-fi thriller. His expression is hard to read -- perhaps it's fear, perhaps hope, or resignation. But, one thing is sure -- it's a quiet, thoughtful composition. Yet, this image is the one generally selected to represent 'Sunshine' on websites and blogs. (This supports the growing notion that second-tier online content [i.e. the blogger] affects what plays well and what just sits there). I can't believe this image is the one the producers and the guys in Marketing wanted to rep this movie. I mean, wouldn't they prefer the one below? Nice -- cool, shows how much money was spent. But, it doesn't have the quiet humanistic power of the one of Murphy above.
Why would the image of Murphy be preferred? I'm guessing it's the basic difference between the world of the sixties and society today. I'm guessing 'Sunshine' has a much more brass-tacks approach to philosophy than Kubrick's masterpiece and is designed for an audience that has to deal with problems that did not exist on the same scale or had the immediacy in the sixties as they do today. 'Sunshine' seems more real than the intellectual and somewhat sterile '2001', and I think this is exactly what today's headline-weary audience is looking for -- quiet reassurance.
'2001' is certainly a great accomplishment. The effects are astounding, especially considering when they were created. That story, though… Just a bit off-putting -- it keeps even the most enthused viewer at arm's length. If 'Space Odyssey' were released today it couldn't connect with an audience. It's just too esoteric, especially that mind-bending ending. What would the average teenager today say when asked, 'So. What was 2001 about'?
Enter 'Sunshine'. With its unpretentious title, Rock-and-Roll effects, and (it would seem) a story that's both philosophical and has popular appeal. 'Sunshine' has a shot at becoming the new reference for sci-fi movies -- both fun and entertaining, and much talked-about for years to come. Right now, the online buzz is pegging the meter. 'Sunshine' looks like it will be a hit and have people arguing the meaning of life -- quite an accomplishment in today's market -- and I'm thinking that still of Cillian Murphy will become an iconic image for a new generation.