2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

October 1997 to November 1997

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From: Michael_Schiavi@DGC.ceo.dg.com
Date: Thu, 2 Oct 1997 16:42:58 est

As much as I genuinely love the movie, many of the special effects to 
which we all were awe-struck in 1968 are not "quite-right." For 
example spacecraft interiors do not match spacecraft exteriors.
1). SpaceStation V: Where does the Aries moonship dock? The only 
docking port visible looks to only be able to launch and retrieve the 
shuttle. The main elevator: Appears to be "coming up to the hotel 
deck. It should in reality be coming down from the center of the 
wheel to the main thoroughfare.
2). The Aries moonship. The pilots are at the nose, Dr. Floyd is on 
the side. The flight attendant comes from the flight deck and goes to 
the passenger deck, but by going all the way around in the galley 
connector circle, she would be going to the back of the ship not to 
the side. When landing, the pilot would not be able to see any of the 
moon since they are on top, not on the sides.
3) The TMA-1 site. Doesn't match the pictures shown to Dr. Floyd 
while on-board the moonbus nor the dialogue. It doesn't appear that 
they "excavated out." If this was the case, the monolith would be the 
pinnacle and not in a deep trench. And wouldn't that have all been 
discussed during the briefing anyway?
4) Discovery. There is no way to "fit" the centrifuge in Discovery's forward
globe. It can't fit between the Pod Bay and the Flight Deck. The corridor
behind the Pilot Chairs doesn't quite make sense. Hal's main memory vault is a
huge rectangle (a rectangle inside a globe?). The centrifuge can't be behind
the pod bay because the access to the connecting corridor supply spine is
there. Also, the supply spine (which was shown in more detail during the 1968
movie premiere) is off center. It should be directly in back of the pod bay.
If there were ever any schematics produced I'd like to see them. For as great
as 2001 was, these idiosynchracies give the movie the same disconnect as a
viewer gets when trying to figure out the Jupiter 2 in "Lost in Space"
Other observations: Frank Poole takes out the pod to the left (facing the
Discovery). Dave takes the center pod. Both can safely be considered lost. The
only one which should have remained was the pod on the right. But Dave goes to
the Stargate from the center pod!  When Frank goes back to the AE-35 antenna, 
the scene from outside has him "flying" the pod over the top of Discovery, but
from inside he is going along the side of Discovery. 
I'm glad I found your site to vent a few observations. I know there are more,
but I'm going on memory. And as for 2010- big time disconnects from 2001. But
that's for another time.
For my vote, Dr. Floyd is the best character. Aside from the plaid suit (which
I don't think will come into fashion in 3 years) his speech at Clavius and the
final "Pre-recorded Briefing" are memorable. 2001 is a great movie, but as Dr.
Floyd puts it: "Its origin and purpose, still a total mystery."

Date: Fri, 10 Oct 1997 21:16:47 -0200
From: Nelson Russo Ferreira [nelson05@uol.com.br]

I would like to congratulate you on your site. Your theories about all 
the symbolism of the film (I mean, of the master-piece)are very similar 
to mine. It's very good to hear from people like you, who don't simply 
fall asleep, snoring during the presentation, but realise that the 
meaning of the film results from simple logical deduction.
I've recently seen a remastered tape of "2001" here in Brazil. It had 
been quite a long time since the last presentation, so I could enjoy the 
film like the very the first time (indeed, "2001" is just like wine, 
getting better as it gets older).
I've come up with a theory during the last part of film. You must have 
noticed that when David sees a man eating his meal and realizes it is 
himself, he gets astonished. But the "older David" has no reaction. He 
stands up, checks out if something is wrong and resumes his eating. This 
"something"is young David, and it seems unimportant to old Dave.
Soon after the glass is dropped, David experiences another  astonishing 
sight: he lying on the bed, just about to die. But this "third Dave" 
doesn't see the "second Dave". Or doesn't notice his presence. That 
means, old Dave is also unimportant to the dying Dave.
This third Dave now becomes astonished by another sight: the Monolith. 
To sum it all up, young David sees his future form (the Old Dave) and is 
shocked, for he is the future, he is the unknown; But Old Dave pays no 
attention to David, for he is the past, he is uninteresting.
Old Dave is shocked when he sees the dying Dave, for this third Dave is 
the future, he represents the unexpected. But the third Dave pays no 
attention to the second one, for he is the past.
So, mankind becomes shocked when he faces the unknown, the unexpected. 
On the other hand, it gives little importance to what happened in past. 
And the monolith is the conduit that takes Davis to his future: the 
Starchild. Notice that after the baby appears, the hotel room is no 
longer showed, because the baby won't pay attention to the past, only
to the future, that is, his voyage home.
I know it all sounds a bit silly, but it's just a speculation of one of 
the most mysterious parts of the film: David's aging process.
I would really appreciate if you wrote back to me, telling me your 
opinion about it (even if you think it's rubbish)
Once again, congratulations,


Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 20:29:13 -0400
From: Murphy [dmurphy@ebtech.net]

Just a thought:  the spaceship, Discovery, is remarkably phallic in shape.
Furthermore, at one point during the cosmic light show, Dave's space pod is
shown with a wispy white tail and resembles a sperm wriggling its way toward
the egg.  If this sexual reproduction imagery was intended, what does it
tell us about the story?  Well, although this is probably an
oversimplification, it can be argued than mankind (along with his marvelous
technology) is the father of the Star Child while the Monolith is the
mother.  Having made that assumption, one must next entertain the notion
that, by imbuing the ape-men with knowledge, the Monolith was not merely
acting benignly or conducting an experiment but actually setting into motion
the process that would ultimately yield the Star Child.  If this is the
case, then the relationship between humankind and the Monolith was actually
a symbiotic one (i.e. - both parties got something out of it).  Man was
rewarded with intelligence while the Monolith received the "sperm" it needed
to give birth to a new, more advanced form of life.  Admittedly, this is
somewhat farfetched but, hey, after all, everyone just wants to get laid!

Anyway, thanks for all the food for thought.  Your page is something to be
proud of.

        - Mike Murphy (Sarnia, Ontario)

P.S.:  my apologies if I'm simply reiterating what others have already said
but I didn't have the time to peruse all the e-mailed comments.

From: BAJ6000@aol.com
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 02:36:03 -0400 (EDT)

I agree with you that the movie is not a worthy successor to 2001.  It is a
very minute point, put I just wanted to address the problem with a second
star in the solar system.  You said that there were two problems, increased
temperatures and change in gravitations.  I have no idea how much physics you
have had, and I am not totally sure if I am 100% correct, but it really would
not make much of a difference.  The factors that determine gravitaional pull
are mass and distance.  I will spare you the equation.  One could then say
that some mass was added, due to the monoliths(assuming they stuck around
afterwards), but mass was also lost in the implosion.  In fact, this is a
major part of Clarke's 2061, which you may have read, may not have.  But I
think that it would be safe to assume that the gravitational pull would not
be changed.  It was in fact a mini star, with a life expectancy of a little
over 1000 years.  As the temperature goes, At that distance, it would not
matter much.  Sure, it may add some heat, but it is so far away and so weak
that it would just make it difficult to sleep at night if you have to be in
total darkness.  
      Just to comment on you essay, must say that I enjoyed it.  I always
enjoy hearing other people's interpretations of great movies.  I have to
agree that 2010 is a good stand alone movie, but totally destroys the ideas
of 2001, and should not even be paired with it.  I am not totally sure about
it, but I don't think Arthur C. Clarke has allowed any of his books to be
made into movies since.  Well, just thought I would give my imput.


Date: Sun, 2 Nov 97 17:32:56 UT
From: "Doug Smith" DSmith7708@classic.msn.com]

	I would first like to tell you that I enjoyed your essay immensely,
and think you've layed down a good interpretation of the film, and one I
happen to agree with.  I just had this one humble thought to offer. 

	When discussing the sequence where Dave is brought to the hotel room,
you offer the possibility that Dave does indeed live out the remainder of his
life here uniterupted, being cared for by the Aliens (or God, depending on
your point of view) with no contact with them.  This makes me think.  What
kind of man could possibly endure such utter isolation.  Can you imagine the
terrible lonliness?  The boredom?  Who could endure such a thing without
going mad?  Or even taking their own life? 

	Furthermore, would these aliens who have done so much to guide
mankind along during it's evolution, to act almost as parents to the entire
human race, really subject Dave, their mechanism for the advancement of the
human race, to such a torturous existence? 

	Just a humble thought.  If you get a chance, I would appreciate your
response to this.

	Thank you.

Date: Mon, 03 Nov 1997 17:02:56 -0800
From: Steve Greaves [steve_greaves@kkp.com]

Just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your critique of 2001. I 
recently bought and watched the widescreen edition with surround sound. 
I've always thought it was a tremendous achievement, but hadn't seen it 
in quite a few years. It's corny, but I don't think you'll laugh when I 
tell you that my latest viewing brought me to tears. It's scope and 
vision is just so moving. I think it should be required viewing for 
anyone who cares about man's place in the universe and destiny as a 

I found your site because I was inspired to and have done some writing 
about the film myself. I was curious to see what else, if anything, was 
out there on the subject. I really like the approach you took, just 
saying "here's how I see it" and using that as a vehicle to give your 
scene by scene interpretation. I really think this film is more timely 
than ever and there is a lot to say about it, but I personally am unsure 
of what it is that needs to be said. I, and I get the sense that maybe 
you, would really like to find a way to open more people's eyes to the 
wisdom of this film, and, as an offshoot, maybe open more philosophic 
discussion about our collective future. I feel like if the world 
population could be put in a giant theatre to view the movie, with 
discussion to follow, that it would create "bigger" thinking. Kind of a 
heady prospect, but maybe you get what I mean.

Most all of your interpretation is quite similar to mine (though yours 
is, as of now, much more complete). Really like your thoughts on "Dawn 
of Man" and how that is mirrored in the second act. "Beyond the 
Infinite" is obviously the most open to a variety of interpretations. 
Mine is similar to yours, even as I still am forming it (can one ever 
really stop?). I have a little different take on the meaning of the 
"victorian" room. At least I see this as a possiblity:

Could it be that David looking at his elder self at the table, then 
becoming him, then looking at his deathbed self, then becoming him, is 
really an illustration of man's fear of his own inevitable mortality? 
It's like he sees himself as a distant "other," just as he is unable to 
avoid becoming it. I could take the sequence to symbolize man's 
inability to escape his own physical limits (having a physical body) and 
impending death.

As he is dying, he reaches for the monolith (By the way, I have never 
felt that just considering the monolith an alien presence/artifact 
covered all  the possibilities. I see it as representing an intellegence 
of the universe: not a diety, but a spark of the divine (not in biblical 
terms) that is part of, or the cause of, the natural flow of knowledge 
and creativity in enlightened beings). Anyway, he's dying. The presence 
of the monolith at this time, like you say, indicates another 
evolutionary milestone, if not the final one. This sounds religion 
oriented, but believe me I don't intend it that way. More cosmic than 
that. Might it be that when the "light embryo" first appears on the bed 
that it represents the "soul" or some other transcendental being that 
continues its voyage? Then, it is reborn into and perhaps becomes part 
of the same universal intelligence that the monolith represents. In 
short, maybe a man's soul evolves until it becomes the "teacher" of  
new, young souls by in fact becoming the wisdom of the universe. Just 
another theory, but there is something about such a circular, cyclic 
arrangement that seems supported by the symmetry of the film. 

Thanks again for a great piece of work. It's nice to know that someone 
else out there "gets it". Feel free to respond.

Take care, 
Steve Greaves

Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997 20:51:23 -0200
From: Guilherme/Miguel [guiconde@pcshop.com.br]

First of all, it is important to note that there is very little talking in
the film. In the other way, music plays an important part creating an
atmosphere and a very strong bond with the viewer. About the monolith: it
simbolizes inteligence. The search for the monolith is to me a search for a
meaning to life and to the universe. After all, the monolith gave a meaning
to the apes`s life. It turned them into men. So going after the monolith
they are, even not knowing it, going after their creator. The search for
inteligent life beyond earth is also a search for a clue about the meaning
of life. And they get the answer: what gives the universe a reason to be is
inteligence. Another great thing about the movie is its beauty. All the
scenes are very beautiful and it is not a less important aspect. That is all...

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 19:08:05 -0500
From: Patrick Bryant [bryantpe@vt.edu]

  First, let me say that I deeply enjoyed your essay.  It is always
refreshing to see people spend time analyzing a movie that has such a
profound emotional effect on people.  I would like to, however, offer a
different outlook at the interference by the "aliens."  While reading your
essay, I was intrigued that you immediately assumed that the monolith was
the instrument of an "experiment."  I wonder, though, if experiment is
perhaps not the word for the appearance of the monolith.
   I was thinking of the recent movie, "Contact," that explored the idea of
mankind's steps into worlds outside their own.  In it, when the heroine
travels to the faraway planet and she asks why this was the way events had
to progress, the aliens reply simply that this is the way it has been done
for billions of years.  That comment came back to me when I was reading
your essay.  I think it likely that whoever employs the monolith does so
because that is the way it is done and has been done.  It is the
representation, the catalyst, of progression.  Maybe it is even its witness.
   As for the monolith's inteference being an "experiment" as such with
humanity, I think it more likely that the interference is a hallmark of the
next necessary and inevitable step.  Towards what?  Well, that (and the end
of the movie) is open for debate!

Patrick Bryant

Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 20:17:51 +1000
From: Jacob Perkes [jacob@syd.dragon.net.au]

when Dave masters Hal you claim that it is man mastering machine.  But
the capacity to rebel, ego and hubris mark Hal as, if not human then at
least Intellegent.  Hal is not Machine, Hal is Mind.

	The killing of Hal is a reversal of the murder by Moon-Watcher.  Early
in the film Moon-Watcher is made 'master of the world', a god, by
slaying the weaker and less than equall with the Tool.  Whereas Hal is
by far greater than Dave - Hal is literaly the 'duex et machinia' (god
out of machine), Hal is the Nietzschean superman (recall the use of Also
Sprach Zarathustra[thus spake zarathusa?]).  And this time the stronge
is murdered by the weaker(David def. Hal).  Note that this leaves Dave
as master of the world that is Discovery. An elegant symetry.

The only poroblem with this thesis, that i can see, is Hal devotion to
the Higher purpose (i think another que to Nietzshe: Hal is a created
creature, his instincts/programing -all that make Hal what Hal is- is
the result of the choices of another, yet still Hal still resolves to
make more of her/himself), the devotion to The Mission.  When the dying
Hal shows the clip that reveals the true purpose of the mission to Dave,
in some way, to me, it makes Hal a more noble creature.  Anyway this
nobility is definetly not found in Moon-Watcher, and it twists at the
symetry.  -Is it the evolution of the Spirit, to sound Hegalian for a
second or something else, if so what.

Finaly i am sorry if this all sound more than a little disjointed.  I
saw 2001 when about 12 and read the novel acouple of times but never
realy considered in depth.  And now well it is all just pouring out.