Friday, April 7, 2017

2001 Musings

I just watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the third time. This time it was in a real theater (the Alamo Drafthouse !!!) with the sound and visuals the way it was meant to be viewed. Touted as a weird and boring movie, Matt and I were excited to see it again with full enthusiasm. We were ready, willing, and able to absorb what Kubrick was dishing out.

As I said to Matt: "I was fully 'woke' for this one." So I have a some observations to make:

Deserving Knowledge

Everyone* in this film is either withholding or in desperate need of knowing information. The first moment where this is explicitly shown is at Space Station V with Dr. Heywood Floyd. He is asked by a group of scientist friends if he could please tell them the truth behind the rumors at Clavius Base. They heard there was an epidemic, and that was the reason for no one being allowed to land there. Fellow scientist Dr. Andrei Smyslov clearly believes the group has a right to know because of their stature in the scientific community, especially since they are peers of Floyd. When asking several times for answers and getting nothing but dodging and denial, Smyslov changes his tone and tries to level with Floyd. He might be worried about everyone's general safety, but at the bottom of it, Smyslov simply can't stand not knowing.

Smyslov : "We should be given all the facts."
Floyd : "I know... As I said, I'm not at liberty to discuss it."

When Dave and Frank realize the AE-35 unit was not broken like Hal had indicated, they start to question Hal. Hal refuses to answer their questions directly, causing Dave and Frank to have a moment alone - only to be lipread by Hal and their plans dashed. 

Dave and Frank obviously believe they are superior to Hal. Hal may be able to do things that they can't, but at the end of the day, Hal is not human. The idea that Hal would hold classified information is not only dangerous in Frank and Dave's eyes, but insulting and irritating. These astronauts are losing control of the ship. Therefore, Hal must be stopped.

Hal: Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? 
Dave, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question.

Ha ha! How the tables have turned. Hal knows full well that Dave is marching through the ship toward the core to shut him down. Hal uses the language of bargaining with Dave. I believe this is Hal trying to gain some sympathy from Dave in order to stop him from (essentially) killing him. Hal wants to make it clear that he too deserves to know. The only problem is, Hal wouldn't reciprocate this earlier. And he killed Frank! Dave doesn't say a single word during this scene.


The act of a birthday celebration seems trivial in comparison to these character's space travel and their missions, but it's a recurring theme.

Dr. Floyd's daughter's has a birthday coming up. They talk about this while having a video conversation about it. She will celebrate with her family without her father while he is on the Moon.  It's a futuristic version of "Daddy's on a business trip so he'll have to miss your recital ... again."

Astronaut Frank's birthday is celebrated by his parents on Earth without him. They send him a recorded video message while he's traveling to Jupiter.

Frank watches his parent's transmission from a tanning bed. He watches them blankly with little mirth, asking Hal to move the headrest so he could see better. Frank won't waste a bit of energy on this. Frank's parents get more joy out of his own birthday than he seems to.

With just these two examples, we have birthdays that are celebrated apart from family with the distance of outer-space in between. 

HAL 9000 mentions his birthday in the last moment's of his consciousness. "I became operational at the HAL Plant, in Urbana, Illinois, on the 12th of January 1992." Much of what Hal says to Dave is self-preservational. He's bargaining, trying to prevent Dave from turning him off. Then it seems as though Hal is left only with his most basic, and charming functions, like his ability to sing a song and remember the name of his "instructor." It's reminiscent of a child reciting information about what they learned in school to a parent. Either Hal is becoming less intelligent, or he's hoping his pathetic state will convince Dave to stop removing cartridges. It's as if Hal's hinting, "You know, I have a birthday too. Isn't that something you humans care about?" Considering how impaired Hal is during this process, I admit that's probably not what's actually happening. However, I have an instinct as a viewer of movies, to expect Dave to stop when Hal get's too pathetic. The viewer is at least supposed to feel sympathy from these words.

Then of course are the womb-like images when Dave goes through the star gate.

Finally we have Dave's own rebirth, with the iconic imagery of a floating fetus in space. It's iconic imagery that was entirely confusing to me before I saw the film for the first time. Out of context it's like, "What kind of movie is this? Space Baby?" Well, actually yeah it is space baby. Even after watching it, it's still hard to say what that fetus truly meant.

Images of HAL 9000 By Way of The Monolith

This is an image of Hal - in case you didn't know. The parallels of Hal to the Monolith are pretty obvious, but through out the film, visual hints are made if you can find them. 

Check out that red lens flare landing right on the monolith.

This was the best shot I could find online, but if you can imagine Dave in his red space suit a few seconds earlier, then you would see just the top of his helmet surrounded by the black interior and the rectangular door frame. 

It is widely speculated that the monolith is a movie screen, as it is black and has the same proportions. If you take the movie screen at these moments and turn them 90 degrees, it will look like an organic and off-center Hal. This imagery appears while Dave is going through the Star Gate

Now I'm putting on my tin foil hat. If you look closely at the above image, the goggles Frank wears while he's passively watching his parent's birthday message, looks like the red eye of Hal. Matt made a good point to me when he said Frank looks like he's laying on a bed which looks like the monolith. On it's own the bed matches the color and shape of the monolith, but it's also made of several different sized monoliths. Together, it all looks like a visual representation of Hal just like the previous examples. 

When dealing with Kubrick you can't write off anything. If you thought you saw something, you did. And then there will still be cinematic cues he intentionally put in there, and you only know about them now because someone just as insane realized they existed. Don't worry, you're probably never reaching too far when it comes to a Kubrick theory....

Another Easter Egg?

I found a message in the three letter acronyms that appear on the Discovery One dashboard. Several different acronyms appear like HIB, FLX, MEM, LIF, DMG, and COM, among others. At some point COM and LIF appear together on screen, and I was like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day.

COM LIF....Com Life.... Computer Life!!! 

This will be my new obsession for a while.

*None of my observations are going to involve the Dawn of Man portion of the film. If you think there's something there that I just missed let me know in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment