2001: A Space Odyssey
Directed By
Produced By
Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay By
Stanley Kubrick
Arthur C. Clarke
Edited By
Ray Lovejoy
Geoffrey Unsworth
Distributed By
United Kingdom
United States
Release Date
April 2, 1968 (Uptown Theater)
April 3, 1968 (United States)
May 15, 1968 (United Kingdom)
142 minutes
Rating G
$10.5–12 million
$138–190 million

2001: A Space Odyssey is an influential 1968 science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay, written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, deals with themes of human evolution and technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. The film is notable for its scientific realism, its pioneering use of special effects, and its reliance upon ambiguous yet provocative imagery and sound in place of traditional techniques of narrative cinema. The film received a wide spectrum of positive and negative reviews upon release, although it is widely recognized today among critics as one of history's greatest films. It remains, however, one of the most controversial films among casual viewers. It won the Academy Award for visual effects (Stanley Kubrick) and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle awards for Best Director and Best Film of 1968 .

Production Edit

Filming of 2001 began on December 29, 1965 at Shepperton Studios in Shepperton, England. The studio was chosen because of its size; it was large enough for the 60 by 120 by 60 foot pit built as the set for the Tycho crater excavation scene, the first to be shot.[1] From 1966 filming took place at MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood, England. It was here that a "command post" was established to facilitate the filming of special effects scenes, described as a "huge throbbing nerve center... with much the same frenetic atmosphere as a Cape Kennedy blockhouse during the final stages of Countdown."[2] The film was shot in Super Panavision 70 with a 65mm film negative format, and the release prints were made using the Technicolor dye transfer process. Kubrick began editing the film in March 1968 and made his final 19-minute cut just days prior to the public premiere on April 6. By this time the film had run $4.5 million over its initial $6 million budget and was 16 months late of its scheduled release.[1]

This film was the first major use of retro-reflective matting, used in the African scenes where the proto-humanoids discover the use of tools as weapons. Static transparency images of landscapes, taken in Africa, were projected through a partially silvered mirror, placed diagonally in front of the camera. The projected image illuminates both the costumed characters and a retro-reflective glass bead background screen. The projected image is not visible on the characters as its intensity is well below other illumination. It is, however, reflected selectively back to the film camera by the background screen, passing through the partially silvered mirror, along with the view of the characters, and is seen as a background in the complete scene. This technique produced much more realistic images than other methods available at the time but is now supplanted by more flexible computer-processed bluescreen techniques.

Kubrick filmed a number of scenes which did not make the first cut. These include a schoolroom scene at the Clavius moon base in which Kubrick's own daughter appeared in the cast, and the purchase of a bush baby in a futuristic department store for Heywood Floyd's little girl who appeared in the video phone scene. Additional footage includes some redundant spacewalk material and a scene where Bowman retrieves a spare antenna part from a hexagonal corridor. MGM made a publicity still from this which was used as a lobby card. But most notable was an opening scene where scientists are shown discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life. It has been rumoured that Arthur C. Clarke himself portrayed one of the scientists.[3]

A notorious perfectionist, Kubrick's final cut of the film was made after the April 1968 premiere, when he removed 10 minutes of footage.[4]

Synopsis Edit

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

2001 opens with György Ligeti's opening cluster (which spans five octaves) from Atmosphères, unaccompanied by any on-screen image (in a theater presentation the curtains would remain drawn for this duration). The following introductory sequence depicts a perfectly aligned Sun rising behind the Earth and Moon accompanied by the first movement of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra. The remainder of the film can be divided into three chapters, each of which are preceded by on-screen title cards.

The first chapter of 2001 entitled "The Dawn of Man" begins in the late Pliocene epoch and contains no dialogue. It shows a tribe of prehistoric "man-apes" in their attempts at survival: avoiding a predatory leopard and capturing a waterhole from another tribe. A mysterious, black, rectangular monolith (accompanied by the Kyrie from Ligeti's "Requiem") appears near their habitation, and is nervously approached and touched by members of the tribe.

Following this encounter, a lone man-ape (called "Moon Watcher" in the Arthur C. Clarke story) is shown scavenging through a pile of bones. The man-ape picks up a bone and plays with it, becoming increasingly aggressive until striking the surrounding bones with destructive force. The man-apes are next shown eating meat — presumably that of a freshly killed tapir, many of which are depicted throughout the chapter. With their newfound weapon, this tribe of man-apes now recapture the waterhole, beating to death another man-ape in the process.

In the famous match cut that follows, the victorious "Moon Watcher" throws his bone weapon into the air, at which point the film jumps forward to the modern era, matching the image of the bone to that of a man-made satellite. Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube" waltz accompanies the following scenes of space transport.

The remainder of the first chapter takes place in what was the near-future, presumably around the year 2001, as suggested by the film's title. It first depicts a transport shuttle docking with an Earth-orbital space station, several shots of the interior of which show it carries only one passenger: Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester), a scientist bound for the Moon. Floyd arrives at the station (and the waltz has its final cadence). Then, after disembarking, a monotone stewardess announces the first spoken lines of the film: "Here you are, sir. Main Level, please." Floyd meets Mr. Miller of Station Security, and the two walk through the sterile station to a restaurant, but Floyd stops to make a videophone call as Miller goes on ahead.

In the first narrative exposition, Floyd meets a group of Russian scientists including an "old friend" Elena and sits down for a brief chat. After Floyd reveals that he is going to the Moon base Clavius, Dr. Andrei Smyslov (Leonard Rossiter) inquires as to why nobody had been able to establish contact there, and Elena mentions that the base recently denied emergency landing to one of their shuttles. Floyd expresses a blank surprise, but when Smyslov brings up a rumor that an epidemic has broken out at the base, Floyd firmly refuses to comment on the situation, citing security restrictions.

The next scene depicts a lunar landing craft Aries heading towards the Moon base Clavius. It lands and is lowered on an elevated platform into the base. In a meeting room here, Floyd lectures to a small room of scientists and/or officials on the importance of hiding the true reason for Clavius' suspicious activities: that they have discovered a monolith buried on the Moon (dubbed Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1 or TMA-1 for short). The scene cuts to a transport shuttle on the Moon (accompanied by Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna"), where Floyd and two other scientists debate the nature of the monolith, and assert that it had been "deliberately buried." The shuttle lands at the dig site, and the scientists warily approach the monolith. They gather around it for a group photo (to accompaniment by the returning Kyrie from the Ligeti Requiem), but are interrupted when an earsplitting, continuous high-pitched tone is picked up by their helmets' communication system.

Without any explanation of the tone, the film jumps forward once again to its second chapter entitled "Jupiter Mission: Eighteen Months Later." The story here takes place on the spaceship Discovery One that has been sent on a mission to the planet Jupiter. Accompanying the pilots, astronauts Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood), are three scientists in cryogenic hibernation and the HAL 9000 (Douglas Rain) on-board supercomputer. Various scenes are shown depicting life on board the ship: exercising, eating, watching television, sleeping, sunbathing, playing chess, and drawing. The main music at the beginning is Gayane's Adagio from Aram Khatchaturian's Gayane ballet. During a conversation with Bowman, HAL reveals an anxiety about the mission, and immediately reports a fault in a component of the ship's Earth communications system. Bowman exits the Discovery in an EVA pod to retrieve and repair the part, but upon manual examination no fault can be found. HAL suggests restoring the part and waiting for it to fail to determine the problem. Bowman and Poole retreat to an EVA pod to attempt to have private conversation about the consequences of HAL's potential error in judgement: disconnection. Unbeknownst to them, HAL is reading their lips. An intermission follows.

Poole now exits the Discovery in an EVA pod to restore the part while Bowman watches from inside the ship. As Poole exits the EVA pod to restore the part, HAL uses the empty pod to murder Poole, who is next shown frantically attempting to reattach his air hose, then floating lifelessly into space. Bowman exits the ship in another EVA pod to rescue him (forgetting to bring his space helmet). While Bowman is outside, HAL murders the three hibernating scientists by disabling their life support systems.

Bowman manages to retrieve Poole's body, and upon returning, commands HAL to "open the pod bay doors." HAL refuses, and reveals that he knows of Bowman's plan to disconnect him as discussed with Poole in the EVA pod earlier. He also informs Bowman that without his helmet it would be fatal to enter the emergency air lock. He decides to do it anyway, and by using the EVA pod's ejection system propels himself into the airlock, seals the chamber, and fills it with oxygen.

Bowman next enters HAL's 'brain room' with the intention to disable him. With HAL pleading for him to stop, Bowman proceeds to dismantle and disconnect him. Gradually HAL reverts to his earliest programming, loses his memory, and sings the song Daisy Bell as he slowly deteriorates. HAL's shut-down appears to trigger a pre-recorded video briefing recorded on Earth by Heywood Floyd, explaining to the crew (although Bowman is now the only survivor) the true nature of the mission, which is to investigate the signal sent from the monolith on the Moon.

The third chapter, entitled "Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite" begins with a view of a third monolith in orbit around Jupiter, and of the Discovery One entering the Jupiter system. As the planets and monolith appear to align, Bowman again exits the Discovery One in an EVA pod, and flies towards the phenomenon — again accompanied by the Ligeti Kyrie.

Bowman, in the EVA pod, now appears to travel across vast distances of space and time through a tunnel of colorful light and sound, in what is often labeled the "Star Gate sequence," in the midst of which the Kyrie segues to Ligeti’s colossal orchestral essay Atmosphéres. He arrives alone in a Louis XVI style hotel room (the alien-sounding music of Ligeti's Aventures is heard through an echo chamber, here). He is depicted through various phases of aging, until finally shown lying on what appears to be his death-bed, at the foot of which appears a fourth and final monolith. Bowman slowly reaches out to it and is seemingly transformed into a fetus-like being surrounded by a ball of light, commonly referred to as the "Star Child", looking across to Earth—the film's final scene, as Also Sprach Zarathustra climaxes once more.

Spoilers end here.

Release Edit

The US premiere was on April 2, 1968, at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. The original release was in a 70mm projection format with a six-track stereo magnetic soundtrack. The projection aspect ratio was 2.21:1. The film was also released in the 35mm anamorphic format for general release beginning in the fall of 1968; these prints were available with either 4-track magnetic stereo or optical monaural soundtracks.

The original 70mm release was billed as a Cinerama production in theaters (such as the Indian Hills Theater in Omaha, Nebraska) which were equipped with special projection optics and a deeply curved screen. In non-Cinerama theaters the release was simply identified as a "70mm" production.

In 1980, it became the second movie to be released on VHS by MGM/CBS Home Video.

It has been released on Region 1 DVD three times, once by MGM Home Entertainment in 1998 and twice by Warner Home Video in 1999 and 2001. The MGM release featured a booklet, the film, theatrical trailer and an interview with Arthur C. Clarke. The soundtrack was remastered in 5.1 surround sound as well. The 1999 release from Warner omitted the booklet and featured a re-release trailer. The 2001 release featured the re-release trailer and the film presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.20:1 and digitally re-mastered from the original 70* mm print, the audio was remixed in 5.1 surround sound. The interview and booklet were omitted from this release as well.

It has also been transmitted in an HDTV format on the HDnet movie network. No high definition video disc releases have yet been announced, however.

Reaction Edit

Upon release, 2001 received mostly positive reviews, and quickly gained a cult following (its psychedelic visual imagery was quickly embraced by the counterculture). Roger Ebert gave the film four stars in his original review, believing the film "succeeds magnificently on a cosmic scale." [5] Yet the movie also had its detractors. Critic Pauline Kael said it was "a monumentally unimaginative movie" ,[6] and Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic called it "a film that is so dull, it even dulls our interest in the technical ingenuity for the sake of which Kubrick has allowed it to become dull." [7]

2001 earned one Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Director (Kubrick), and Original Screenplay (Kubrick, Clarke). 2001 is consistently on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films, was number 22 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies, number 40 on its 100 Years, 100 Thrills, included on its 100 Years, 100 Quotes ("Open the pod bay doors, HAL."), is the only science fiction film to make the Sight and Sound poll for ten best movies, is the Online Film Critics Society top science fiction film,[8] and been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Academy AwardsEdit

Award Person
Best Visual Effects Stanley Kubrick
Best Original Screenplay Stanley Kubrick
Arthur C. Clarke
Best Art Direction Anthony Masters
Harry Lange
Ernest Archer
Best Director Stanley Kubrick

Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsEdit

Cast Edit

Actor/Actress Role(s)
Keir Dullea Dr. Dave Bowman
Gary Lockwood Dr. Frank Poole
William Sylvester Dr. Heywood R. Floyd
Daniel Richter Moon-Watcher
Leonard Rossiter Dr. Andrei Smyslov
Margaret Tyzack Elena
Robert Beatty Dr. Ralph Halvorsen
Sean Sullivan Dr. Bill Michaels
Douglas Rain HAL 9000 (voice)
Frank Miller Mission controller (voice)
Bill Weston Astronaut
Ed Bishop Aries-1B lunar shuttle captain (as Edward Bishop)
Glenn Beck Astronaut
Alan Gifford Poole's father
Ann Gillis Poole's mother

Influences Edit

The story of 2001 is based in part on various short stories by co-screenwriter Arthur C. Clarke, most directly "The Sentinel" (1951), and indirectly Clarke's running themes of humanity's "ascendence" best summed up in Childhood's End (1953). Kubrick collaborated with Clarke in writing the screenplay, and Clarke's novel was released shortly after the release of the film.

In early conversations, Kubrick and Clarke jokingly called their project How the Solar System Was Won, an allusion to the epic 1962 Cinerama film How the West Was Won, which presents a generation-spanning historical epic told in distinct episodes.[citation needed] Like How the West Was Won, 2001 is divided into distinct episodes.

As Clarke wrote in 1972: "Quite early in the game I went around saying, not very loudly, 'MGM doesn't know this yet, but they're paying for the first $10,000,000 religious movie.'"[9]

For an elaboration of the Clarke/Kubrick collaborative work on the book and film, see The Lost Worlds of 2001, Arthur C. Clarke, Signet., 1972.

Interpretation Edit

Since its premiere, 2001: A Space Odyssey has been analyzed and interpreted by multitudes of people ranging from professional movie critics to amateur writers and science fiction fans. Film criticism has existed since the earliest days of the motion picture, but 2001 holds a place unique in film history due to its openness to interpretation by audiences.

Kubrick encouraged people to explore their own interpretations of the film, and refused to offer an explanation of "what really happened" in the movie, preferring instead to let audiences embrace their own ideas and theories. In a 1968 interview with Playboy magazine, Kubrick stated:

{{cquote|You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don't want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he's missed the point. (Norden, Eric. Interview: Stanley Kubrick. Playboy (September 1968). Reprinted in: Phillips, Gene D. (Editor). Stanley Kubrick: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi, 2001. ISBN 1-57806-297-7 pp. 47–48.)

Scientific accuracy Edit

Insofar as the laws of physics are concerned, 2001 is highly realistic: it is one of the few science-fiction films to accurately portray space (an approximate vacuum) as having no sound and to have spacecraft producing no sound while traveling through space. The film is also notable for its accurate portrayal of weightlessness on board the Discovery. Tracking shots inside the rotating "wheel" which provides artificial gravity is contrasted in the film with the weightlessness outside the wheel during the repair and the HAL disconnection scenes. The scenes in the pod bay where the astronauts are walking may be explained by a 'velcro'-like coating of the floor, which explains the slow pace of the walk.

Much was made by MGM of this aspect of the film in its promotion, claiming in a 1968 publicity brochure that "Everything in 2001: A Space Odyssey can happen within the next three decades, and... most of the picture will happen by the beginning of the next millennium."[10]

Potentially the most glaring plot error is the failure to trouble-shoot the core problem by trained and experienced crewmembers:

  • A new and extremely complex system with many interworking systems and parts is unquestionably considered incapable of error.
  • The myriad other reasons for failure (faulty cable, switches, corrosion, reporting systems, software, etc.) which would be beyond the HAL 9000’s control are not considered.
  • A decision is made to declare the entire system unfit for service based on an extremely limited data set.

In addition the film does have a number of minor failures of scientific accuracy, such as:

  • The height of lunar mountains was overestimated, as the film was made before the lunar expeditions of the Apollo program, and because meteoric erosion was underestimated.
  • The gravity in Clavius base appears to be that of Earth's rather than lunar gravity.
  • The dust blown up by the exhaust of the lunar shuttle is seen to billow up from the landing pad, rather than radiate out in straight lines, as would happen in the near-vacuum of the lunar surface.
  • The Earth is shown in varying phases during the landing maneuvers of the Aries 1B moon ship (an error of continuity as well as science).
  • In the sequence in which David Bowman blows the hatch on his space pod to make an unprotected entry to Discovery's airlock, there is a shot with Dave rebounding in the airlock chamber, while his space pod is still sitting just outside the airlock door. Since the pod is not fixed to Discovery, the blowing of the pod's hatch should have caused the pod to move away on the thrust of its escaping atmosphere—though rather slowly, given a rough estimation of the mass and speed of ejected air (and Bowman) in relation to the mass of the pod. This being said, it is not impossible that the ejection procedure involves automatic compensation by the thrusters of the pod, as in stationkeeping.
  • There is a somewhat famous, though small, technical error when Heywood Floyd is flying to the moon. Supposedly in a weightless state, he sips through a straw, and when he lets go of it, the fluid slides back into the container.
  • Likewise, as the PanAm shuttle is arriving at the space station, a rendezvous display shows the docking bay rotating. The shot shows the shuttle synchronizing its roll to match the station’s, but the docking-bay display remains in rotation, and should’ve stopped.

  • Though the crew quarters in the spaceship Discovery are arranged in a rotating wheel to simulate gravity, which is often overlooked in science fiction, the wheel's small radius would require a fairly rapid RPM (five to ten RPM depending on the actual radius) to produce earth-like gravity. It is suggested that the human body becomes dizzy, nauseated and disoriented when exposed to high Coriolis forces, and few if any humans could become accustomed to high levels of rotation. In addition, the amount of gravity exerted on the human body would vary between the feet, waist and head. A better design to reduce the gradient of centripetal force would have been to rotate the entire ship, and have the crew section and the drive section swinging from the central AE-35/Antenna structure tethered by strong cables. However, this is assuming the crew quarters rotate to simulate Earth gravity. Were the purpose to simulate, say, lunar gravity, the section could rotate much more slowly.
  • In one scene, a flight attendant grabs the pen of a sleeping Heywood Floyd as it floats in zero gravity inside a spaceship cabin. The pen is rotating, but it is not rotating about its own center of mass; instead, it is rotating about a center that is significantly external to the pen. This happens because, in reality, the pen was mounted on a large, transparent, rotating disk from which the actress playing the flight attendant plucked it, and it was not mounted at the center of the disk. In an actual zero-gravity environment, some force would have to be acting upon the pen in order to compel it to rotate around anything other than its own center of mass.

The film made a number of predictions of the future. Some were accurate, while some were not.

Accurate predictions include:

  • Ubiquitous computers.
  • Flat-screen computer monitors (these were simulated by rear projection in the film).
  • Small, portable, flat-screen televisions.
  • In-flight television screens with a wide aspect.
  • Glass cockpits in spacecraft.
  • The proliferation of TV stations (the BBC's channels numbering at least 12).
  • Telephone numbers with more digits than in the 1960s.
  • The survival of corporations like IBM, Aeroflot, and Hilton Hotels to the year 2001.
  • The ability of a computer to beat an average human player easily at a game of chess.
  • The use of credit cards with data stripes, for use as with ATMs. (The card Heywood Floyd inserts into the telephone is an American Express card; a close-up photo of the prop reveals that it contained a barcode rather than a magnetic strip, but the principle is the same.)
  • Biometric identification. The film shows voice print identification on arrival at the space station.
  • The basic design of the 213 ft Orion III Pan Am Orbital Clipper can be seen in the form of the smaller Orbital Sciences X-34, which is being prepared as a plane-launched test orbiter.
  • High levels of co-operation and friendliness between astronaut teams from both the USA and Eastern Europe.

Some of the film's predictions of the future turned out to be inaccurate:

  • Space travel is incorrectly portrayed as being commonplace by 2000. In the film,
    • colonies (at least 2) have been established on the moon,
    • manned missions to Jupiter are feasible,
    • hotels in orbit, part of a revolving 2000 ft Space Station,
    • commercial space flight is routine,
    • and technology is available to place humans in "suspended animation".
  • HAL's speech, understanding and self-determining abilities exceed the actual year 2001 state of the art by orders of magnitude.
  • The survival of Pan American Airlines and the Bell System to the year 2000.
  • The survival of the Soviet Union to the year 2000; a hammer and sickle is incorporated into the Aeroflot logo on a flight bag visible during the "Russian conversation" scene on the space station (However, Aeroflot airlines still uses the hammer and sickle in their logo for brand recognition purposes).

Soundtrack Edit

Music Edit

Music plays a crucial part in 2001, and not only because of the relatively sparse dialogue. From very early on in production, Kubrick decided that he wanted the film to be a primarily non-verbal experience, one that did not rely on the traditional techniques of narrative cinema, and in which music would play a vital role in evoking particular moods. In this respect, 2001 harks back to the central power that music had in the era of silent film.

The film is remarkable for its innovative use of classical music taken from existing commercial records. Major feature films were (and still are) typically accompanied by elaborate film scores and/or songs written especially for them by professional composers. But although Kubrick started out by commissioning an original orchestral score from composer Alex North, he later abandoned this, opting instead for pre-recorded tracks sourced from existing recordings, becoming one of the first major movie directors to do so, and beginning a trend that has now become commonplace.

In an interview with Michel Ciment, Kubrick explained:


2001 uses works by several classical composers. It features music by Aram Khachaturian (Gayane's Adagio from the Gayaneh ballet suite) and famously used Johann Strauss II's best known waltz, "An der Schönen Blauen Donau" (in English, On The Beautiful Blue Danube), during the space-station rendezvous and lunar landing sequences. 2001 is especially remembered for its use of the opening from Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra (or "Thus Spake Zarathustra" in English), which has become inextricably associated with the film and its imagery and themes. The film's soundtrack also did much to introduce the modern classical composer György Ligeti to a wider public, using extracts from his Requiem (the Kyrie), Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna and (in an altered form) Aventures (though without his permission).[11]

In the early stages of production, Kubrick had actually commissioned a score for 2001 from noted Hollywood composer Alex North, who had written the stirring score for Spartacus and also worked on Dr. Strangelove. But on 2001 Kubrick did much of the filming and editing, using as his guides the classical recordings which eventually became the music track. In March 1966 MGM became concerned about 2001's progress and Kubrick put together a show reel of footage to the ad hoc soundtrack of classical recordings. The studio bosses were delighted with the results and Kubrick decided to use these "guide pieces" as the final musical soundtrack, and he abandoned North's score. Unfortunately Kubrick failed to inform North that his music had not been used, and to his great dismay, North did not discover this until he saw the movie at the première. North's soundtrack has since been recorded commercially and was released shortly before his death. Similarly, Ligeti was unaware that his music was in the film until alerted by friends. He was at first unhappy about some of the music used, and threatened legal action over Kubrick's use of an electronically "treated" recording of Aventures in the "interstellar hotel" scene near the end of the film.

HAL's haunting version of the popular song "Daisy Daisy" (Daisy Bell) was inspired by a computer synthesized arrangement by Max Mathews, which Arthur C. Clarke had heard in 1962 at the Bell Laboratories Murray Hill facility when he was coincidentally visiting friend and colleague John Pierce. At that time, a remarkable speech synthesis demonstration was being performed by physicist John Larry Kelly, Jr. who created one of the most famous moments in the history of Bell Labs by using an IBM 704 computer to synthesize speech. Kelly's voice recorder synthesizer vocoder recreated the song "Daisy Bell", with Max Mathews providing the musical accompaniment. Arthur C. Clarke was so impressed that he later told Kubrick to use it in the film.[12]

Dialogue Edit

Alongside its use of music, the dialogue in 2001 is another notable feature, although the relative lack of dialogue and conventional narrative cues have baffled many viewers. One of the film's most striking features is that there is no dialogue whatsoever for the first twenty minutes or the entire last segment (23 minutes) of the film—the entire narrative of these sections is carried by images, actions, sound effects, and two title cards.

Only when the film moves into the postulated "future" of 2000 and 2001 do we encounter characters who speak. By the time shooting began, Kubrick had deliberately jettisoned much of the intended dialogue and narration, and what remains is notable for its apparently banal nature—an announcement about the lost cashmere sweater, the awkwardly polite chit-chat between Floyd and the Russian scientists, or his comments about the sandwiches en route to the monolith site.

The exchanges between Poole and Bowman on board the Discovery are similarly flat and unemotional, and generally lack any major narrative content. Kubrick clearly intended that the subtext of these exchanges—what is not said, that is - should be the real, meaningful content. At one point during the film, HAL lip-reads a conversation between Poole and Bowman (they have secured themselves in one of the ship's pods for this conversation, wishing HAL not to hear them, his apparent failure being the object of their discussion). This further indicates the centrality of silence and 'subtextual speaking' to the film.

Narrative through ambient sound Edit

2001spaceodysseyKubrick's unique treatment of narrative in 2001 is perhaps best exemplified by the scene in which the HAL-9000 computer murders the three hibernating astronauts while Bowman is outside the ship trying to rescue Poole. The inhuman nature of the murders is conveyed with chilling simplicity, in a scene that contains only three elements.

When HAL disconnects the life support systems, we see a flashing warning sign, "COMPUTER MALFUNCTION", shown full-screen and accompanied only by the sound of a shrill alarm beep; this is intercut with static shots of the hibernating astronauts, encased in their sarcophagus-like pods, and close-up full-screen shots of the life-signs monitor of each astronaut. As the astronauts begin to die, the warning changes to "LIFE FUNCTIONS CRITICAL" and we see the vital signs on the monitors beginning to level out. Finally, when the three sleeping astronauts are dead, there is only silence and the ominously banal flashing sign, "LIFE FUNCTIONS TERMINATED".

2001spaceodyssey "The film combines eerie contemporary music with classical waltzes and ballet suites, grunts and snarls with pneumatic hisses and synthesized beeps. One character has a rough, throaty voice but a computer talks with a soft, mellifluous tone (the classic characterization of a smooth-talking villain). Space is accurately depicted as a truly silent vacuum, but Technological Man fills this world with the sound of circulating air systems, humming computers and hissing doors. 2001 is alive with sound, and most of it is environmental. That is, most of it is ambient.

"The legacy of 2001's Ambient music sound design is clear in later films such as George Lucas's THX 1138, Carroll Ballard's Never Cry Wolf, David Lynch's Eraserhead, Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. Filmmakers became far more conscious of the revolutionary possibilities that effective sound editing offered. Noise, quiet, eclectic effects, all contribute to a scene's power, but treating a film as an extended sonic performance, as well as visual, expanded the art."—D.B. Spalding [1]

Sequel and offshoots Edit

Kubrick did not envisage or plan on a sequel to 2001. Kubrick was afraid of the later exploitation and recycling of his material in other productions (as was done with the props from MGM's Forbidden Planet), so, to the dismay of MGM Studios, he ordered all prints of unused scenes, sets, props, and production blueprints destroyed — and thus lost forever.[3][13][14]

Clarke went on to write three sequel novels. The first was subsequently adapted into a film, but there has been no serious discussion of filmmakers adapting the other two for the screen.

  • 2010: Odyssey Two (1982)
  • 2061: Odyssey Three (1987)
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)

The sequel film, entitled 2010: The Year We Make Contact, was based on Clarke's 1982 novel and was released in 1984. Kubrick was not involved in the production of this film, which was directed by Peter Hyams in a straightforward style, without Kubrick's mysticism. Clarke saw it as a fitting adaptation of his novel.

Beginning in 1976, Marvel Comics published both a Jack Kirby-written and drawn adaptation of the film, and a Kirby-created 10-issue monthly series "expanding" on the ideas of the film and novel.

Notes Edit


References Edit

  1. Arthur C. Clarke The Lost Worlds of 2001
  2. Daniel Richter (Foreword by Arthur C. Clarke). Moonwatcher's Memoir: A Diary of 2001: A Space Odyssey
  3. Jerome Agel. The Making of Kubrick's 2001. The Agel Publishing Company, 1970. (out of print)
  4. Michel Chion. Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey. Trans. Claudia Gorbman. BFI Pub, 2001.
  5. Piers Bizony. 2001 Filming the Future
  6. Robert Kolker. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey -- New Essays
  7. Stephanie Schwam (Editor), Jay Cocks (Introduction). The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey
  8. Wheat Leonard F. Kubrick's "2001"
  9. Castle, Alison (Editor). The Stanley Kubrick Archives, Taschen, 2005. ISBN 3-8228-2284-1

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