Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, UK)

In Stanley Kubrick's influential and awesome, genre-defying sci-fi masterpiece:

  • the introductory imagery was of a heavenly alignment (of the sun and moon) to the thrilling bold chords of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra
  • the opening "Dawn of Man" episode - with man-apes' tableaux scenes - was set in prehistoric Africa, there, the apes confronted the film's first mysterious and alien black monolith

Apes Learned to Use Bones For Weapons and Tools
An Alien Black Monolith Was Surrounded by Apes
The Seamless Transition From the 'Dawn of Man' to Space Era
  • there was marvelously audacious, seamless transition/edit from a deflected, flying skeleton bone-weapon from an ape-man - in slow-motion - that turned into a futuristic, earth-orbiting space satellite (a tool or weapon?) - one of the most famous jump-cuts in cinematic history
  • miniature models of spacecraft in the year 2001 wereportrayed against the black, immense quiet and visual, weightless spendor of outer space; a Pan-Am space shuttle slowly docked with the circular Space Station 5 to the accompaniment of Johann Strauss' waltz Blue Danube while American scientist Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) slept - he was the sole passenger on the shuttle; there were various modes of transportation that Dr. Floyd took from the Space Station to his destination, including the spherical Aries lunar landing craft, and a Moon Bus to the crater excavation site on the lunar surface
  • in the excavated crater-pit on the Moon at the Clavius Moon Base (a lunar settlement), space-suited scientists viewed (and touched) a brightly-lit second monolith (a Tycho artifact), that had supposedly been buried four million years earlier - it emitted a deafening, high-frequency signal directed toward the planet of Jupiter
  • the next segment fast forwarded to 18 months later during a nine-month, manned voyage of the spaceship Discovery on a half billion-mile journey to Jupiter; on board was an omniscient but faulty HAL 9000 computer (voice of Douglas Rain) identified by a 'red eye', and two astronauts who were not in hibernation: Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) and David Bowman (Keir Dullea); three astronauts were also in cold-storage suspended animation

Astronaut Poole Jogging Inside Discovery

Processed Meals and Videos

HAL-9000s Ubiquitous Glowing, Watchful Red Eye
  • in the set of the circular habitat of the crew in the spaceship, Poole endlessly jogged and shadow-boxed around the interior treadmill in a memorable image
  • HAL 9000 informed the astronauts that a component of the ship would soon malfunction, an AE35 antenna unit, and it needed repair/replacement; during an observational space-walk trip in a small one-man EVA space pod, astronaut Bowman replaced the defective Alpha-Echo-35 (AE35) communications unit with a spare before it could fail, and returned; he was confused about HAL's warning since diagnostics showed the original unit was not defective
  • in one of the film's best scenes, the HAL 9000 computer (with a big red eye) malevolently eavesdropped by reading the lips of the astronauts as they privately spoke to each other in a sound-proofed, sealed space pod, discussing how HAL had become unreliable and irrational regarding the faulty AE35 antenna unit
  • when Poole left the spacecraft to reinstall the original A35 unit, HAL deliberately severed his oxygen life-line and he helplessly floated out into space - dead; astronaut Bowman again left the spaceship in the pod in a vain attempt to rescue Poole; meanwhile, the malevolent HAL - in order to take over the spaceship, also methodically murdered the three hibernating crew members - with flashing warnings: COMPUTER MALFUNCTION, LIFE FUNCTIONS CRITICAL, and then LIFE FUNCTIONS TERMINATED
  • when Bowman returned in the pod (without his helmet), HAL had closed the pod bay doors on him - and Bowman made frantic attempts to re-enter the spaceship by commanding: ("Open the pod bay doors, HAL"); he made a daring re-entry through the emergency air-lock hatch by ejecting himself from the pod into the air-lock chamber
  • to retaliate against HAL, Bowman took a slow walk to the computer's reddish-toned "brain room" to slowly debrain and disconnect the computer's core (he performed a mechanical lobotomy on the computer's logic and memory circuits) by removing memory modules to reduce the computer to manual control, while HAL calmly responded by pleading and protesting as he was slowly 'dying': ("I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it")
  • as HAL's 'mind' deteriorated, he sang one of the first songs he ever learned - Daisy, or A Bicycle Built For Two - in a child-like manner
  • as HAL disconnected and the spaceship approached Jupiter, a pre-recorded televised briefing recorded prior to the Discovery's departure was played - it provided crucial information about the Discovery's mission: "Eighteen months ago, the first evidence of intelligent life off the Earth was discovered. It was buried forty feet below the lunar surface, near the crater Tycho. Except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter the four million year old black monolith has remained completely inert, its origin and purpose still a total mystery" -- in other words, the mission was to follow the alien, high-frequency radio signal beamed directly to Jupiter from the monolith found on the Moon and to explore the possibility of extra-terrestrial life
  • astronaut Bowman continued his flight to Jupiter - he encountered a third much larger monolith circling Jupiter amongst Jupiter's other moons; the giant planet Jupiter (lit up as a bright crescent shape) and its many moons, the spaceship Discovery, and the Sun, were all lined up with this third monolith
  • in a thrilling light-show ride activated by the monolith, Bowman left the Discovery in a space pod to journey through both inner and outer space as his pod was sucked into and sent racing down a swirling vortex, corridor, or tunnel of speckles of colored light - it was the ultimate trip through space and various landscapes ("the Stargate") toward Jupiter and into another dimension
The Light-Show Stargate Sequence - Pod Landed in Bedroom
  • in an enigmatic sequence, the astronaut's space pod landed and came to a halt somewhere beyond Jupiter in semi-familiar surroundings created out of his own subconscious memories by the aliens
  • in the surrealistic conclusion of the film, the pod came to rest in a decorated, light-green and glacially-white 'cosmic bedroom' or ornate Victorian hotel suite/bedroom chamber; Bowman emerged from the space capsule, and saw himself as he drastically aged through various stages of life; on his deathbed, Bowman looked toward the foot of his bed and pointed at the film's fourth giant black monolith in the center of the room
  • as Bowman reached out to this fourth monolith, the camera moved toward the blackness of the monolith and he was seemingly reborn (or evolved and was transcended); he dissolved into a glowing, hazy, translucent fetus or embryo in utero that rested on the bed; a blast of the musical chords of Also Sprach Zarathustra - signaling a decisive transformation - was heard for the last time; Bowman distinctly re-emerged within the embryo, with his own serene and wise-eyed features as an ambiguous Star Child; he became reborn as a cosmic, innocent, orbiting "Star Child" that traveled through the universe without technological assistance
  • the last enigmatic, open-ended image of the film was of the large, bright-eyed (with pin-pointed, glowing stars for pupils), luminous embryo in a translucent uterine amnion or bluish globe - an enhanced, reborn superhuman floating through space above the Earth in an orb of light
Rebirth of a "Star Child"

Circular Space Station 5

Pan Am Shuttle

Docking of Shuttle in Space Station

Discovery of Excavated Monolith at American Moon-base on the Moon Crater of Clavius in the Year 2001

The Monolith on the Moon - Brightly Lit Up

Discovery 18 Months Later On a Mission to Jupiter

HAL Listening to Two Scheming Astronauts Through Lip-Reading

Hibernating Crew Members Killed by HAL

Bowman's Vain Attempt in a Pod to Rescue Poole in After His Oxygen Had Been Cut by HAL

Bowman: "Open the pod bay doors, HAL"

Bowman Lobotomizing HAL-9000's Circuits

On Bowman's Way to Jupiter - Alignment of Planets, Moons, and 3rd Monolith

Bowman Gray-Haired and Aging

The Ornate Bedroom With the Monolith and an Aging Bowman on His Deathbed, Pointing at the Monolith


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