In the text Film: From watching to seeing, Bill Goodykoontz and Christopher Jacobs describe mise en scène as all the what we see in a scene. A French term borrowed from the theater referring to what is “placed in the scene” mise en scène includes all the elements that film has in common with theater, such as setting, costumes, props, and blocking. Additionally, film is dependent upon additional considerations such as placement and movement of characters and props in the scene as they relate to camera shots, color, lighting, and other elements of cinematography. Actors are placed into the film’s sets by the director to bring a written character to life. The final performance is a collaboration process between the director, writers, and actors. Actors are as much part of mise en scène as other technical elements used in making a film such as lighting and sound. All three people must work together to create the finished film, and while the actor may not have much say in which aspects of his performance the director chooses, he does have a say in the performance itself. For this reason actors are as much part of Mise en scène as other technical elements used in making a film such as lighting and sound. (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014).

In the film 2001: A Space Odyssey 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. 2001: 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. ”Kubrick’s form foregrounds image and symbol and backgrounds character and plot.” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, p. 63). Actors use different methods of acting, often depending on the film, or role itself. Some methods include stylized acting, method acting, character acting and others. In keeping with Kubrick’s methodology of mineralizing character and plot and placing emphasis on the theme, the acting style used in the film by all actors is that of impersonator. “The term impersonator is considered somewhat demeaning in the acting world, suggesting that the actor has simply copied the manner, dialect, and behavior of a character, instead of creating the character.” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, p. 117). In the film 2001: A Space Odyssey this method is useful for advancing the overall theme of the film without distracting the audience with character development.

In the film 2001: A Space Odyssey all the major roles deliver a similar stoic and inconsequential performance. Additionally, the use of unknown actors helps further the cause. This intention void of human emotion is achieved by the actors mimicking the non-human personality of computers. In doing this, Stanley Kubrick is portraying the future attrition of human emotion in contrast to the seemingly more humanlike programmed artificial intelligence as is demonstrated by “Hal”, the HAL 9000 computer piloting the Discovery One. The first consequential dialog is delivered about forty five minutes into the film by actor William Sylvester, playing the character Dr. Heywood Floyd. Upon arriving aboard the US Space Station, Dr. Floyd meets a Soviet scientist, and her colleague Dr. Andrei Smyslov, who ask Floyd about “odd things” occurring at Clavius. His stoic unemotional delivery is evident in the clip below entitled “Dr. Heywood Floyd aboard the International Space Station”.

2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] scene — Dr. Heywood Floyd Aboard the International Space Station  [Video file] Retrieved April 10, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlPMxgHQKg8

Eighteen months later we are introduced to two crew members, David Bowman and Frank Poole aboard the U.S. spacecraft Discovery One bound for Jupiter. Actor Gary Lockwood plays the character of Dr. Frank Poole and actor Keir Dullea plays the character of Dr. Dave Bowman. We first see Dr. Frank Poole jogging aboard the spacecraft and then receiving a Birthday video greeting from his parents in the clip below. Although the dialog is minimal, you can see the unemotional disregard he has towards the blasé message. He seems more concerned with his tan than he does with watching the video of his parents. His performance is intentionally flat.

2001: Frank’s Parents [Video file] Retrieved April 10, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpzCGZnpXkE

In the next scene we see David and Frank sitting inside a pod aboard the Discovery One discussing Hal. Both David and Frank are almost indistinguishable from one another in appearance, speech and mannerisms. The drone like banter void of human emotion is meant to showcase the disappearance of uniqueness in favor of manufactured programmed interactions amongst humans. In this instance both actors are intentionally machinelike and thusly interchangeable.

2001:Hal Reads Lips [Video file] Retrieved March 26, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s-PiIbzbhw

In the next scene we see David sitting inside a pod outside the Discovery One. Even after Hal has murdered all the other members of the Discovery One, Dave is calmly rationalizing and discussing his probable demise with Hal in the same tone and manner as when he was earlier discussing chess and art.

Hal 9000 VS Dave – Ontological scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey [Video file] Retrieved April 10, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwBmPiOmEGQ

As with all the actors who appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s epic science-fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the apex of Keir Dullea’s film career was in his lead role as the astronaut Dr. David Bowman. Because Keir Dullea’s character Dr. David Bowman was such a limited type of role using the impersonation style of acting; Dullea utilized many other different types of acting in numerous television and movie roles in the years that followed. Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain (the voice of HAL 9000) were the only two actors to return in the 1984 sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey entitled 2010: Odyssey Two.

Something Wonderful [Video file] Retrieved April 10, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmCMIJsYvZM

Years before working with Kubrick, Keir Dullea starred as David in the 1962 drama David and Lisa, the emotional story of a young man in a mental institution for teens who begins to understand his psychosis in the environment of others with mental and emotional problems. The film allows Dullea to show his more emotional and sensitive form of acting not displayed in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

David And Lisa Retrieved April 10, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox39j2wwhy0&feature=player_detailpage

Over the next thirty years five years Dullea played many main charactures, and avoided being typecast as a personality actor. Following his role in 2001: A Space Odyssey; Dullea has appeared in such various roles as Magnus Lofting in the 1977 horror film Full Circle, as Dr. Steiger in the 1984 thriller Blind Date, and as Senator John Russell, Sr. in the 2006 spy film The Good Shepherd. His many television roles have included appearances is westerns such as Bonanza and police drams such as Law and Order. Always a versatile and flexible actor, his career continues today. (“Keir Dullea”, n.d.) In 2009 Dullea starred as Jake the comedy drama entitled All Me, All the Time which displayed more of the actors versatility and range as a dramatic actor. See the clip below.

Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon [Video file] Retrieved April 10, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiI7QSol2Zk

References for week 4:

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Kuberski, P. (2008). Kubrick’s Odyssey: Myth, Technology, Gnosis. Arizona Quarterly: A Journal Of American Literature, Culture, And Theory, (3), 51.

Works cited for week 4:

“Keir Dullea” n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keir_Dullea (accessed April 9, 2015).


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