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 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 the man-apes' tableaux scenes set in prehistoric Africa, and the apes' first confrontation with a mysterious black monolith

Apes Learning to Use Bones For Weapons and Tools
Alien Black Monolith Surrounded by Apes
Seamless Transition From 'Dawn of Man' to Space Era
  • the marvelously audacious, seamless transition/edit of a deflected, flying skeleton bone-weapon from an ape-man - in slow-motion - turning into a futuristic, earth-orbiting space satellite (a tool or weapon?) - one of the most famous jump-cuts in cinematic history
  • the miniature models of spacecraft, in the year 2001, portrayed against the black, immense quiet and visual, weightless spendor of outer space, including the slow docking scene of the Pan-Am space shuttle with the circular Space Station 5 to the accompaniment of Johann Strauss' waltz Blue Danube while American scientist Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) slept - the sole the passenger on the shuttle; and the 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
  • the sequence of the viewing (and touching) of the brightly-lit monolith (a Tycho artifact) found in an excavation crater-pit on the Moon at the Clavius Moon Base (a lunar settlement) by space-suited scientists; it was supposedly buried four million years earlier - it emitted a deafening, high-frequency signal directed toward the planet of Jupiter
  • fast forward to 18 months later during the 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 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
  • the scene of HAL 9000 informing the astronauts that a component of the ship would soon malfunction, an AE35 antenna unit, and it needed repair/replacement; during a 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 since diagnostics showed the original unit was not defective
  • the great scene of the HAL 9000 computer (with a big red eye) malevolently eavesdropping 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 a faulty AE35 antenna unit
  • when Poole left the spacecraft to reinstall the original A35 unit, HAL 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 ("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 - 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 by 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 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 the monolith, the camera moved toward the blackness of the monolith and he was seemingly reborn (or evolved/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 - 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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