Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Topics: Arthur C. Clarke, HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey Pages: 7 (2372 words) Published: November 23, 2014
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is considered one of the most impressive science fiction films in the modern era and is a critically acclaimed masterpiece. To begin this analysis I will first give a synopsis of the films plot and key points to help lay a foundation for the film. The movie is broken into 4 acts, each focusing on a different event and time in the story. We first start with “The Dawn of Man”; we are greeted by what appears to be a tribe of early hominids foraging for food in the African desert. These early humans seem to be herbivores and are cohabitating with other animal life forms. We see a separate tribe descend and take control of a watering hole forcing the first tribe away from this vital resource. While the ape man creatures are sleeping a strange black monolith appears, upon waking and discovering this object the apelike people begin to touch and in way worship the monolith. Shortly after this scene we see the hominids discovering tools and weapons in the form of a bone; the tribe then takes back the watering hole using force and their new tools. The ape leader throws the bone in the air and with a quick editing cut we are propelled millions of years into the future, the bone transforming into a space station orbiting the earth.

This is the beginning of the second portion of the film and where the plot begins to delve deeper into the monolith mystery. We recognize the shift in scenes and events with the nondiegetic title that displays “TMA-1” across the screen. In my opinion this section is the beginning of the rising action in the film and helps develop the narrative towards the climax. We are introduced to a scientist by the name Heywood Floyd, our first named character with dialogue played by William Sylvester. Heywood is aboard a space plane carrying him towards a space station orbiting earth for a layover on his trip to a lunar outpost. After making a brief video call to his daughter on earth he encounters a friend and Russian scientist named Elena and her colleague Dr. Smyslov. Elena and Dr. Smyslov begin to question Heywood about the odd things occurring at the lunar base, to which Heywood responds by firmly declining to answer. After Heywood arrives at the lunar base, named Claudius, he apologizes to the staff for having to use a cover

story but stresses the secrecy of their mission. Their mission in fact is to investigate a recently found artifact deliberately buried four million years ago. Heywood and the other scientists ride a moonbus to the artifact which is another black monolith identical to the one encountered by the apes. The men examine the artifact and pose for a photo in front of it, in doing so they hear a very loud high-pitched noise emanating from the monolith.

We are now transitioned to the third portion of the story and the beginning of the climax, titled “Jupiter Mission” in the same nondiegetic title. Now 18 months after the lunar base mission we are introduced to the spacecraft Discovery One bound for Jupiter. On board are the pilots of the craft, scientists Dr. David Bowman played by Keir Dullea and Dr. Frank Poole Played by Gary Lockwood as well as three other scientists in cryogenic hibernation. Most of the ships operations are controlled by our fifth crew member, the ships computer, HAL 9000 or just HAL. HAL a computer that states he is “foolproof and incapable of error” detects an error with a vital piece of equipment aboard the spacecraft. After reviewing the equipment and finding no error, mission command tells Bowman and Poole that HAL must be malfunctioning. Bowman and Poole decide in secret that HAL must be disconnected in order to protect the mission and their safety. HAL convinces Poole to replace the broken equipment so he can prove he is right when it fails. While Poole is out for a spacewalk, Hal severs his life support and kills him. Bowman takes a ship out to attempt to rescue Poole and while he is gone HAL terminates the life support for the...

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