I guess they both have crews that are boned by the people that sent them who lead their AI to believe that they were expendable.
2001 is one of my two top SF movies of all time, alternating for top spot with Forbidden Planet
Alien has the advantage of H.R. Giger’s designs. Without them, I honestly don’t think this film would have made as big a splash. It stole most of its plot from Jerome Bixby’s 1950s underappreciated classic, It! The Terror from Beyond Space which, for all its faults, I much prefer. There’s simply too much in Alien that’s stupid or unexplained, and it annoys me to watch the film.
On the other hand, I love Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, which tries to amend the faults of its predecessor. I hate al the sequels, especially the abysmal Alien Vs. Predator movies, which have no redeeming values that I can see.
2001 is the more socially relevant, more cerebral movie.
Alien was more fun, emotionally.
If I had to pick a movie to put in the Time Vault for posterity, it’d be 2001.
If I had to pick a movie to watch, it’d be Alien.
Like 'em both, but Alien get’s my vote.
Apples and oranges because of my memories of seeing each movie for the first time. 2001 was like being exposed to a new philosophy, Alien was like a theme park ride(complete with people screaming in the seat next to me :D).
Alien, I can watch at its normal speed.
2001 requires significant and repeated use of the fast-forward button.
Kubrick was strongly influenced by Universe, a 1960 Canadian documentary film about space. It has a majestic yet cold style that is very Kubrickian.
Kubrick tried to hire the entire special effects crew from that film, but that didn’t work out for some reason. He did hire Douglas Rain, who narrated Universe, for the voice of HAL.
Universe is well worth watching; it’s a remarkable film with truly astounding visual effects. You can watch or download it here. I believe it’s also available on YouTube.
Purely as films, I’d say it’s a toss-up, or nearly so (might give slight edge to 2001). As enjoyable viewing experiences, again, nearly a toss-up (slight edge to Alien).
But as historical creative events, it’s not even close. 2001 was a momentous milestone in the history of cinema. Alien was a fun take on a comparable theme, but a decade too late to be a game-changing groundbreaker.
2001 for me. But I generally don’t get the whole attraction to horror films. But, even if I did, I don’t see why Alien is seen as special. Like other posters have said, plenty of other horror movies, some even set in space. Honestly I thought Event Horizon was better than Alien.
2001 just seems like a work of art to me, and I think in some ways because of the pace. I know others hate the methodical pace of the movie, but to me the pace contributes to the building of the environment in space. No gravity means you limit sudden movement, so having a slow pace to the movie really puts you into that mode.
I think it’s a masterful work.
How do you consider it a milestone?
Alien had quite a bit of influence too: space marines, dirty industrial future, animal/human/machine comparison.
Alien didn’t give us space marines – there weren’t any in that film. Cameron included them in the sequel, Aliens, and he lifted them from Heinlein (he had the actors read Starship Troopers).
Alien helped spread the “dirty industrial future” meme, a much-needed antidote to the too-clean future of earlier films*, but it had already been used in Carpenter’s Dark Star, and then REALLY popularized in Star Wars.
On at least two levels: special effects, and “trippiness.”
I’m no expert on special effects, but it’s pretty evident that most of the ones in that film were big leaps ahead for 1968. They held up well when compared to, say, Star Wars (1977), and a lot of it holds up well even today. They were careful to be more or less accurate about sounds (lack thereof) and light/darkness in space, knowing that by the time the film was released, advances in the Apollo program would have made more of the public more familiar with the real thing.
Then, there’s “trippiness.” Sure, Europeans like Godard or even Bergman had been making avant-garde films of various sorts for about a decade, but there were few English-language blockbusters by 1968 which expected the audience to sit through a slow pace, a light show, and deep themes not explicitly spelled out for them. 1968 was just the right moment to do this; even the squares were getting groovy, man, and can you dig it?
I recall a 1968 interview with Mick Jagger where he was asked what he thought of the film. (He thought it was fantastic, IIRC). In 1979, would an interviewer care what, I don’t know, Stevie Nicks thought about Alien? That would have been a random question; 1979’s pop-music-and-more culture goddess could have just as easily been asked about any of a dozen other movies. But Mick, 1968’s pop-music-and-more’s culture god, had to be asked about 2001.
Kubrick himself got involved in the making of the effects of 2001. There were, indeed, ground-breaking methods used, including extensive use of front projection (as opposed to standard rear-projection). They did a lot of expensive and time-consuming effects work that would not have been done later, including doing separate matte work in color-separated negatives.
As for their treatment of the silence in space and the way things move, aside from a few rare slips, 2001 is way ahead of the curve. It’s one of the few films that treat those subjects correctly – objects move in the space the way they really would – no swooping turns, they have rotations about center of mass, objects follow proper trajectories, artificial gravity from rotation, etc. There’s no sound in space (the use of the astronaut’s breathing as sound was brilliant, as was the use of classical music, like The Blue Danube). The movie is head and shoulders about just about every other space film. The only ones that come close in accuracy are [2010 and films set in our own space race – *Apollo 13, Marooned, * the TV series From the Earth to the Moon, etc.
Alien is a formulaic horror expertly adapted into a space setting, wonderfully cast, directed, and photographed.
2001 is dull dull dull dull dull, with an incomprehensible gobbledegook ending.
Next time you’re “prepping” to see 2001, remember to inhale.
Aww, I thought this was going to be a “who would win in a fight” poll. I was picturing HAL saying, “I’m sorry–urk!” as a chest-burster came out of its circuits.
Would it have enough memory then to sing “Daisy, Daisy” as a lullaby to the baby alien?
I have to agree. Maybe it was the pacing. It seems so slow and plodding. A couple of neat visuals, an interesting story…but …yawn.
At the moment, I’d rather watch Alien. But that doesn’t mean it’s a better film, just a more fun one to watch. Other than that, I can hardly compare them. As said above, about the only thing they have in common is that they involve space, and the future. Totally different in tone, style, content, intent, themes, characters, pace, cinematography, and anything else I can think of that two movies might have in common.
Do you prefer Peanuts cartoons, or Dickens’s Oliver Twist? They both involve a little boy.
The “MTV Generation” approach to movies and TV over the last few decades has all but ruined us for watching a number of old classics. We just expect stuff to happen faster these days. I bet that were I to watch 2001 today at home, I’d wind up pulling out my phone and checking Facebook (shame on me). The only way to experience a movie like this is with full commitment, such as in a theater, where the only choice is to watch or walk out. Even then I bet most people today would walk out.
It’s supposed to be thought provoking, not make you jump in your seat. Many of the thoughts it provokes are pretty much saturated into the fabric of contemporary thought now.
When watching Citizen Kane today, one doesn’t notice that the segues are novel, because everyone cuts the sound in for the new scene before the visuals, when appropriate. So we don’t even notice that this is a novelty. Likewise, watching 2001 today, it’s easy to miss the novelties from the time, in terms of cinematography as well as themes and ideas.
Blow Up is a classic, but it’s hard to appreciate today. It seems long and pointless, viewed through MTV Generation goggles. And dammit if I don’t find myself wearing those goggles a lot.
I am a pretentious, pseudo-intellectual snob.
Deal with it.
I liked Alien a lot (especially Sigourney Weaver…), but yeah, 2001 was a work of Art.
There were boring parts and, like someone upthread, I thought the light show was ill-conceived. The split-screen felt gimmicky, and the repeated close-ups of the blinking eye seemed trite.
But there were milestones, amazing scenes and a profound story.
- The story is not meaningless or indecipherable. It mostly makes sense and compared to almost any other movie story it is profound.
+The use of classical music was better than in any other film I know. (Fantasia is not one of my favorites) Even if you just view 2001 as a music video, there is much awesomeness to be had. The Space Station with Blue Danube. The Monolith with Zarathustra. The abstract choral pieces.
+The pacing was the deed of a stubborn artist. Right or wrong it made statements. “We are slowly traveling millions of miles through an airless, silent, void, and we are tiny, frail little creatures in a spooky universe.”
+The Dawn of Man sequence is gorgeous. Hal is an excellent non-villainous villain. The special effects were excellent for non-digital, and still don’t look cheesy. “Daisy, daisy…”
And ill-conceived or not, the light show was fun.