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Two of the Greatest Rides in Film

Our guest blogger today is Heath Benfield, co-founder of Invention Pictures, a video/photo services company in Indianapolis.

Still from "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

Image courtesy of Robert Wilson.

Everybody loves movies, especially Americans. We took ownership of the medium at the height of the Industrial Revolution, and much like Henry Ford via his assembly line, bestowed a beloved commodity to the masses.

So, it’s appropriate to consider film to be the first great democratic art form. It invites and reflects all walks of life and social classes. It inspires us to imagine how far we can go, while simultaneously shaming us for how pathetically we have evolved. We sit together in the darkened theater, collectively taking a ride that even Ford could never deliver.

Two such epic adventures can be found in Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. These movies ranked #14 and #6 respectively in Sight & Sound’s definitive 2012 poll. They remain staples in Roger Ebert’s all-time top 10. They are intrinsically linked as the best modern myths of Homeric proportions. Both take us on spiritual journeys toward the edges of existence without looking back.

Still from "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

Still from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968.

Francis Ford Coppola’s bizarre odyssey to complete Apocalypse Now is well documented as being just as surreal as the story (Heart of Darkness) and war (Vietnam) that inspired it. The filmmaker and his crew nearly lost their minds by the end of the 18-month production. Even star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack that almost killed him. The result is a primal nightmare that challenges the existence of humanity’s soul. The voyage through the Nung is a Hellish descent down the River Styx. By film’s end, “the horror” will burrow into your core and challenge everything you’ve ever believed in.

Still from "Apocalypse Now," 1979.

Still from “Apocalypse Now,” 1979.

A decade prior, the meticulous Stanley Kubrick set sail on a journey of even greater magnitude. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, he takes us from the dawn of time to the conceivable end of existence through methods exclusive to the magic of movies. The drums of Stauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra themselves transport us to an age beyond human comprehension. It might be the closest that mankind will ever come to appreciating the expanse of our limitless universe.

Still from "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

Still from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968.

I could go on, and on, and on, but no amount of hyperbole can live up to experiencing these masterpieces on the big screen. Please, I beg you to put aside life’s worries, crowd into the darkened Toby theater for two Friday evenings, and lose yourself to the ultimate power of cinema. Trust me, it’s a ride you won’t want to miss.

Apocalypse Now screens tomorrow evening at 7pm in the Toby.  2001: A Space Odyssey screens at 7pm on Friday, February 8 and at 2pm on Sunday, February 10 in the Toby. Both are part of the Winter Nights film series at the IMA.

Filed under: Film, Public Programs, The Toby

2 Responses to “Two of the Greatest Rides in Film”

  • avatar

    The Sun, Moon, Earth image on the top of this page is not from the film. It is a rendering I created for my website. You are welcome to use it but you shouldn’t caption it as a still from the film.

  • avatar

    Thanks so much for letting us know, and for letting us include your image! I’ve changed the caption information, but please let me know if you’d like it listed any differently.

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