2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 British-American science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel". Clarke concurrently wrote the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey which was published soon after the film was released. The story deals with a series of encounters between humans and mysterious black monoliths that are apparently affecting human evolution, and a voyage to Jupiter tracing a signal emitted by one such monolith found on the Moon. The film is frequently described as an epic, both for its length and scope, and for its affinity with classical epics.
Although originally intended to have a novel written prior to screenplay (to excuse limits of screenplay), the film 2001: A Space Odyssey was written, shot, and produced without a novel base. It was decided early in development not to include extremely humanoid alien beings, as not to "add an element of falseness," said Carl Sagan.
The film consists of four major sections, all of which, except the second, are introduced by superimposed titles.
The Dawn of ManEdit
The match-cut spanning millions of years A tribe of herbivorous early hominids is foraging for food in the African desert. A leopard kills one member, and another tribe of man-apes drives them from their water hole. Defeated, they sleep overnight in a small exposed rock crater, and awake to find a black monolith has appeared in front of them. They approach it shrieking and jumping, and eventually touch it cautiously. Soon after, one of the man-apes, "Moonwatcher" (played by Daniel Richter), realizes how to use a bone as both a tool and a weapon, which they start using to kill prey for their food. Growing increasingly capable and assertive, they reclaim control of the water hole from the other tribe by killing its leader. Triumphant, the tribe's leader throws his weapon-tool into the air as the scene shifts via match cut.
A Pan Am space plane carries Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) to a space station orbiting Earth for a layover on his trip to Clavius Base, a Lunar US outpost. After making a videophone call from the station to his daughter (Vivian Kubrick), he encounters his friend Elena (Margaret Tyzack), a Soviet scientist, and her colleague Dr. Smyslov (Leonard Rossiter), who ask Floyd about "odd things" occurring at Clavius, and the rumor of a mysterious epidemic at the base. Floyd politely but firmly declines to answer any questions about the epidemic, claiming he is "not at liberty to discuss this".
At Clavius, Floyd heads a meeting of base personnel, apologizing for the epidemic cover story but stressing secrecy. His mission is to investigate a recently found artifact—"Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One" (TMA-1)—"deliberately buried" four million years ago. Floyd and others ride in a Moonbus to the artifact, a black monolith identical to the one encountered by the apes. The visitors examine the monolith, and pose for a photo in front of it. While doing so, they hear a very loud high-pitched radio signal emanating from within the monolith.
Eighteen months later, the U.S. spacecraft Discovery One is bound for Jupiter. On board are mission pilots and scientists Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood), and three other scientists who are in cryogenic hibernation. Most of Discovery's operations are controlled by the ship's computer, HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain), referred to by the crew as "Hal". While Bowman and Poole watch Hal and themselves being interviewed in a BBC show about the mission, the computer states that he is "foolproof and incapable of error." Hal also speaks of his enthusiasm for the mission, and how he enjoys working with humans. When asked by the host if Hal has genuine emotions, Bowman replies that he appears to, but that the truth is unknown.
Hal asks Bowman about the unusual mystery and secrecy surrounding the mission, but then interrupts himself to report the imminent failure of a device which controls the ship's main antenna. After retrieving the component with an EVA pod, the astronauts cannot find anything wrong with it. Hal suggests reinstalling the part and letting it fail so the problem can be found. Mission control concurs, but advises the astronauts that results from their twin HAL 9000 indicate the ship's Hal is in error predicting the fault. When queried, Hal insists that the problem, like all previous issues with the HAL series, is due to "human error". Concerned about Hal's behavior, Bowman and Poole enter one of the EVA pods to talk without the computer overhearing them. They both have suspicions about Hal, despite the perfect reliability of the HAL series, but they decide to follow his suggestion to replace the unit. The astronauts agree to disconnect Hal if he is proven to be wrong.
While Poole is attempting to replace the unit during a space-walk, his EVA pod, controlled by Hal, severs his oxygen hose and sets him adrift. Bowman, not realizing the computer is responsible for this, takes another pod to attempt a rescue, leaving his helmet behind. While he is gone, Hal turns off the life-support functions of the crewmen in suspended animation. When Bowman returns to the ship with Poole's body, Hal refuses to let him in, revealing that he had monitored their lip movements during their conversation about disconnecting him. He states that the astronaut's plan to deactivate him jeopardizes the mission. Having to let go of Poole, Bowman manually opens the ship's emergency airlock and enters the ship risking death from exposure to vacuum but survives. After donning a helmet, Bowman proceeds to Hal's processor core intent on disconnecting most of the functions of the computer. Hal first tries to reassure Dave, then pleads with him to stop, and finally begins to express fear—all in a steady monotone voice. Dave ignores him and disconnects each of the computer's processor modules. Hal eventually regresses to his earliest programmed memory, the song "Daisy Bell", which he sings for Bowman.
When the computer is finally disconnected, a prerecorded video message from Floyd plays. In it, he reveals the existence of the four million-year-old black monolith on the Moon, "its origin and purpose still a total mystery". Floyd adds that it has remained completely inert, except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter.
Jupiter and Beyond the InfiniteEdit
At Jupiter, Bowman leaves Discovery One in an EVA pod to investigate another monolith discovered in orbit around the planet. Approaching it, the pod is suddenly pulled into a tunnel of colored light, and a disoriented and terrified Bowman finds himself racing at great speed across vast distances of space, viewing bizarre cosmological phenomena and strange landscapes of unusual colors. He finds himself, middle-aged and still in his spacesuit, standing in a bedroom appointed in the Louis XVI-style. Bowman sees progressively older versions of himself, his point of view switching each time, alternately appearing formally dressed and eating dinner, and finally as a very elderly man lying in a bed. A black monolith appears at the foot of the bed, and as Bowman reaches for it, he is transformed into a fetal being enclosed in a transparent orb of light. The new being floats in space beside the Earth, gazing at it.