Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clark
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Major actors: Keir Dulleu, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
Year released: 1968
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Trailer [Video file] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://www.liveforfilms.com/2014/10/21/stanley-kubricks-2001-a-space-odyssey-is-returning-to-uk-cinemas/
Plot summary: The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is the story of human evolution.
2001: A Space Odyssey is the story of human evolution which crosses time and space through four main acts. The movie begins with the dawn of man, through modern mans space exploration towards Jupiter and beyond. The consistency of the plot occurs with an unexplained monolith that starts the evolution of mankind and ends with the next evolution of man. The movie suggests major leaps in human evolution are being instigated by human contact with black monoliths of unknown origin. The movie begins during prehistoric times depicting man’s contact with the first monolith. This first contact is responsible for the pivotal point in human evolution in which man discovers tools which we decide to use for killing and survival. We then move to the near distant future when we learn that a second monolith has been discovered on the moon. We next travel to Jupiter in a search for a third monolith. Finally we travel back to earth where we see a forth monolith. We are also presented with abstract sequences, which contribute to meaning beyond the plot and push the overall success of the film.
Story summary: The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is a science fiction epic consists of four major acts.
Act One: The Dawn of Man.
The opening scene of the movie is of a tribe of herbivorous early hominids are foraging for food in the African desert. One member of the tribe is killed by a leopard and another member drives the animal away. The next morning they all awake to find a black monolith has appeared in front of them.
Human Evolution Gets a Kickstart [Online image] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/
First frightened and confused by the relic, they eventually touch it. Soon afterwards they realize how to use bone for weapons. First used to kill prey for food, they progress to killing the leader of another tribe. Happy with their success, the leader throws the bone used to kill the other tribe leader high in the air. The scene transitions from the bone to a spaceship.
[Untitled illustration of Early man smashes skull] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus/?cat=12
Act Two: Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One (TMA-1).
In 1999, humankind discovered a second monolith buried beneath the surface of the moon. The scene opens with Dr. Heywood R. Floyd traveling aboard a shuttle to a US Lunar outpost.
[Untitled illustration of US Lunar Outpost] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/
Upon arrival, Dr. Floyd makes a videophone call from a US Lunar outpost to his daughter, Dr. Floyd meets a Soviet scientist, and her colleague Dr. Andrei Smyslov, who ask Floyd about “odd things” occurring at Clavius.
[Untitled illustration of meeting aboard US Lunar Outpost] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121113020234/althistory/images/c/c1/
Dr. Floyd tells the group he has no knowledge of any oddities going on and is not at liberty to discuss the purpose of his mission. Dr. Floyd is soon briefed on the lunar discovery of the monolith. The immidiate reaction is that it was intentionally buried four million years ago.
[Untitled illustration of TMA-1] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://gameprogrammersnotebook.blogspot.com/2014/05/my-games-ground-control-to-major.html
After being escavated, it is discovered that the monoliths point of origin is Jupiter, and thus an expedition is planned for Jupiter with Dr. Floyd and four others in hopes of confirm the locating the source of the monolith.
Act Three: Jupiter Mission.
Eighteen months later, the U.S. spacecraft Discovery One is bound for Jupiter. Onboard are three scientists in cryogenic state including Dr. Floyd, and two conscious crewmen operating the Discovery One. Most of Discovery’s operations are controlled by the ship’s computer, HAL 9000 which the crew refers to as “Hal”.
Jupiter Mission: 18 Months Later [Online image] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/
During the voyage some mechanical problems develop on the Discovery One. Hal makes some suggestions on how to fix the problems. Hal learns that the crew members David Bowman and Frank Poole decide they will disconnect Hal if his recommendations are proven to be wrong.
[Untitled illustration of I’ve got a bad feeling about this] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
At this point Hal tries to kill off all the crew members and take control of the ship. He terminates life support systems for the three scientists in cryogenic state.
[Untitled illustration of Kaminsky] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/241294492510546829/
Having lured Frank Poole outside the Discovery One, Hal severs the life support line leaving Frank to drift off lifeless into space.
[Untitled illustration of Frank drifting in space] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
Eventually there is only one crewmember left alive, Dave Bowman who successfully disconnects Hal and regains control of the Discovery One.
[Untitled illustration of Dave disconnects Hal] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: https://megfiechter.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/2001-a-space-odyssey-that-triumphs-in-70mm/
Once Hal is finally shut down, a pre-recorded video message from Floyd plays. The message reveals the existence of the four million-year-old black monolith on the Moon, “its origin and purpose still a total mystery”.
Act Four: Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite.
Once Bowman finally reaches Jupiter he leaves Discovery One in a small pod to investigate another monolith discovered in orbit around the planet.
[Untitled illustration of Jupiter and beyond the monolith] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
When Bowman approaches the monolith in his pod, he is suddenly pulled into a vortex of colored light.
[Untitled illustration of vortex] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
The pod eventually returns Bowman to what appears to be a laboratory setting back on earth.
[Untitled illustration of Discovery One pod returns to earth] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
After several bizarre phenomena Bowman sees progressively older versions of himself until he finally sees himself as a very old man lying in the bed.
[Untitled illustration View of Bowman from inside pod] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
[Untitled illustration View of Bowman as middle aged] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://thechaselounge.net/showthread.php?p=28770
In the end a black monolith appears at the foot of the bed.
[Untitled illustration View of Bowman progressively older] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
As Bowman reaches for it, he is transformed into a fetus, thus restarting the circle of life. The movie concludes with the new being floating in space beside the Earth, gazing at it.
[Untitled illustration of Star-baby] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/part2.html
Chronological Presentation Style
The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is filmed in chronological order, although all events are not the same duration. Part one; the dawn of man begins the movie four million years ago. Part two; Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One takes place in the year 1999. Part three; the Jupiter mission joins us eighteen months later. Part four; Jupiter and beyond the infinite takes us back to earth and time is accelerated for the duration of Bowman’s lifetime.
The aesthetic choice contributed to the general effect on the audience.
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed on an epic scale, contributing to status as one of the classic Science Fiction films of all time.
“The most basic element of 2001: the uncompromising, abstract beauty of the cinematography captured by Kubrick’s superb eye for mise-en-scene. His establishing shots, alone, would be enough to win the Cinematography Oscar in today’s world. One of Kubrick’s trademarks is his skill of boxing in the frame of the shot with the set, which greatest depth. Also, he adds more levels to photography by framing his shot through other objects.” (Showers, 2013)
Kubrick was a perfectionist with an astonishing attention to detail. He was intent on creating as accurate a depiction of the future as was possible at the time.
“Kubrick hired spacecraft consultants Frederick Ordway and Harry Lange, who had worked with NASA in developing advanced space vehicle concepts. It would be these two, rather than a conventional production designer, who would be responsible for conceiving the technological world of 2001.” (Williams, 2010, para. 7)
“Indeed, NASA administrator George Mueller and astronaut Deke Slayton are said to have dubbed 2001’s production facilities “NASA East” due to the level of accuracy in the designs and the amount of scientific hardware at the studio.” (Williams, 2010, para. 9)
Another thing that 2001 brings is a sense of wonder and unreality. Kubrick produces some of the most memorable scenes of the film portraying the illusion of zero gravity or space travel by ingenious camera effects. On the lunar shuttle the flight attendant seemingly walks a complete 180º ending upside down. This effect was achieved by rotating the set as the flight attendant walked stationary.
[Untitled illustration of shuttle stewardess] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/
And, in the centrifuge sequence Bowman climbs down a ladder, walks around the wall to sit with a seated Poole. As with the flight attendant scene, the centrifuge sequence was achieved by creating a massive, spinning set.
[Untitled illustration of revolving centrifuge] Retrieved March 18, 2015 from: http://movieimage2.tripod.com/2001/
The choice of storytelling method impacted the way the audience viewed the film.
Stanley Kubrick intended for the audience to think about themes, in the same way we look at an individual piece of artwork using our own individual insight. A Space Odyssey is a thematic piece for individual interpretation with no plot or character development on purpose. It is this lack of structure which allows the audience to fill in the blanks and come up with their own meaning to the film. That being said, foreshadowing is very present in the opening chapter, as well as harsh violence of the apes learning the boundaries of survival to set the mood and tone for the film. With little development of characters, the score also gives direction for the audience. Many parts of the score are still iconic today.
The film could have followed a different presentation style.
2001: A Space Odyssey has been described by some as a movie where literally nothing happens. The plot of the story crosses time and space, taking you from the dawn of human evolution through the next evolution of man, a new star-child. Nevertheless, the film does not have an interdependent beginning, middle, and end. Along the way there is minimal character development. The movie has many themes carried throughout the entire length of the film, such as man versus technology, the idea of an unexplained influence driving human evolution, and the destiny of man. This is done to illustrate mans insignificance in the universe. Other movies such as Star Wars have used different presentation styles spending a great deal of effort on character development, at the expense of the unparallel scope and breadth of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
References for Week 1 Post
Showers, R. (2013, November 2). 2001: A Space Odyssey Thoughts. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from https://feelthefilms.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/2001-a-space-odyssey-thoughts/
Williams, B. (2010, September 28). Designing the Future – The production design of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://doubleonothing.com/2010/09/28/designing-the-future-the-production-design-of-2001-a-space-odyssey/