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2001: A Space Odyssey Essay

Stanley Kubric in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” does a great job using as little as possible to make the most out of a movie. What he actually did with the film was make a philosophical statement about man’s place in the universe. He did this by using images and left the movie up for interpretation, allowing the viewer to contemplate what they saw instead of being told in a sense like other movies. The film has four different parts to it. The first part is set in the prehistoric period and opens up with apes foraging for food when a leopard kills one of the apes. Later they are driven from their watering hole by another group of apes.

They sleep overnight on a rock and awake to find a black monolith in front of them. Soon after they find this monolith, one of the apes discovers how to use a bone as a weapon and as a tool. With this discovery of the weapon, the apes take back the watering hole from their competitors by killing the tribe’s leader with the bone. After the leader is killed the bone is thrown into the air and dissolves into a space shuttle. In the second section, we meet Dr. Heywood Floyd as he is traveling to a space station that is orbiting earth, a pit stop on his way to the Clavius Base on the moon.

He makes a phone call from the station to his daughter and then meets up with his friends, one named Elena, who is a Russian scientist, and one named Dr. Smyslov. They were asking him about “odd things” that were going on at the base on the moon. They were talking about a mysterious epidemic that was occurring there. Floyd says “He is not at liberty to discuss this”. When he reaches Clavius, he heads a meeting with the people at the base already apologizing for the epidemic and rumors going on but stressing the importance of secrecy.

He tells them he is there to do research on the artifact that they found, TMA-1, which was buried there some four million years ago intentionally. Floyd and his group ride in a vehicle to the TMA-1, a black monolith that is exactly the same as the one found by the apes in the first section. They are looking at the object and are about to take a picture when they hear a loud sound coming from the TMA-1. This, similar to how the apes discovered tools from the monolith, gave the researchers another tool, the spaceship Discovery.

In the next section the spaceship discovery is on its way to Jupiter. A computer that the crew calls “Hal” controls the ship. Bowman and Poole are watching an interview of them selves and the computer talking about the mission. Hal states that it is “foolproof and incapable of error” and that it is excited about the mission. The host asks bowman if Hal has emotions and he said that it seemed like it but was impossible to tell. Hal then asks the secrecy involving the mission but interrupts himself to let them know of a failure of a device that controls the ships main antenna.

Hal tells them to reinstall the part and let it fail again to find the problem. Worried that something has gone wrong with Hal, the crew enters a pod to talk without being overheard. They discuss that they should shutdown Hal if this doesn’t work, but do not know that the computer has been reading their lips through the glass. Poole then tries to go out and fix the problem, but Hal cuts his oxygen cord and sets him drifting off in space. Bowman takes a pod out to rescue his friend, Hal turns off the life-support system of the crew.

When Bowman returns to the ship Hal will not let him in telling him that his actions are jeopardizing the mission. He then disconnects Hal who falls back to his earliest programming, which is a song called “Daisy Bell’ that he sings to Bowman. After finally being disconnected a message plays from Floyd, which tells him of the four million year old monolith on the moon. Floyd says, “Its origin and purpose is still a total mystery”. The last section Bowman reaches Jupiter and leaves the spaceship to find another monolith that is orbiting the planet.

As he is getting closer to it he is pulled into a wormhole and is racing through space. He sees a lot of different things including aliens. At the end of this little journey he finds himself in a nice little room eating his meals quietly, growing old. The black monolith appears at the foot of his bed and as he reaches for it, he is transformed into some sort of baby-like-being enclosed in a light floating along next to the earth, like a star. I believed the ending of the movie was a little bit of a mixture of emotions. It was sad when Hal, the computer, killed Poole.

I also thought that it was said when Bowman was watching his life in third-person. It seemed like such a boring life with no purpose, kind of like an animal caged at the zoo. When Bowman was turned into a “star” orbiting earth, according to my interpretation, was a happy thing. It was kind of like he had been reborn and watching himself in the third person was kind of like a wake up call for him to get up and start doing something with his life. I really enjoyed this movie, although terribly hard to understand it made me open my eyes a little bit and start thinking of things I needed to do as well.


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