2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

January 1999 to June 1999

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From: "Ravi Agarwal" 
Date: Sun, 03 Jan 1999 06:09:42 PST

Dear 2001 fans, 

Whole hearted agreement that 2001 is a profoundly religious film and 
nothing to do with "Aliens". The difference between Kubrick's and 
Clarke's  imagination  can be a huge confusion when people assume both 
artists are telling the same story. Kubrick's film is one of our great 
modern visions of man's religious questing precisely because it doesn't 
project shallow and "unintelligible" alien motives. It simply uses a 
convenient vehicle, or metaphor,  for our times. 

What can be more human than our gradual development of what we call 
intelligence, and our gradual "growing out" of that same intelligence, 
as  represented by the fallible HAL.   

A few points that I think need clarifying:

1) Why a mysterious monolith all the time? 
In our centuary, we might say our lives are a product of what we call 
"evolution". A lifeform is immensely complex, and yet unable to 
understand itself. It wakes up and finds itself alive, with miraculous, 
world changing, world comprehending powers. Yet it still didn't create 
itself. All that mystery, that power, that scariness of "evolution", is 
represented by the monolith. The monolith is greater than all of us; for 
us to explain it away as "aliens" comes from reading Clarke for 
explanations...    I'm convinced in 500 years time our present obsession 
with "aliens" will seem rather quaint and old fashioned, but I'd hope 
this film to be around then, much as we still read Dante now.  

David - you should be careful confusing "god" with "evolution" - either 
one word or the other - but does it make sense to say "god" interfering 
in evolution to create man?
Surely evolution is the mystery - why use the word god at this point? 
Life is always looking for a better life. It is in this serach that life 
is inseparably wrapped up in evolution. Evolution is never "interfered 
with" and it's difficult to define a "natural" course for evolution. 
Evolution tries things out and chooses roads to follow. They may work 
out; they may not. This is why it's so scary and so powerful. 

Don't overemphasise murder. It's not a big deal in human life as far as 
this film goes; it's just something that comes with evolution. The film 
suggests our intelligence developed while trying to get the upper hand 
on others - open competition, learing to fight with our minds and hands 
- classic evolutionary theory. 

When we discover a monolith on the moon, what we really find is evidence 
of our own amazing history; we learn about our own evolution, and 
suddenly what we have now is not enough; it no longer satisfies as it 
used to .We glimpse better lives. Kubrick is showing us very different 
human lives in the film. Who do we identify with :

	i) The administrator who calls his daughter on her birthday, and makes 
plans to meet friends next year. He's wrapped up in his human life
	ii) Or how about Bowman's crew mate, who's getting messages from his 
parents on HIS birthday, and asking about increases in salary. He's 
"searching", but still 	believes in all that human stuff too.  
	iii) Or Bowman himself, giving himself completely to the mystery of the 
monolith, the mystery of evolution? Even Dave has a birthday of kinds, 
and I think we see it 	as something wonderful for the whole earth; 
something really important. 

2) What is HAL's breakdown all about?
Inability of the mind to deal with itself; to cope with the world it's 
invented for itself, and the contradictions therein. We, as humans, see 
this inability, and decide to do something about it.  Let's say our 
minds are a product of evolution. Like every other product of evolution; 
they do a job, they help us to survive; they've helped us to live a 
better life.  But if evolution is to go on, we're going to find out 
about their limitations. I think these have been well discussed in the 
essay. HAL is trying to make sense of the world he's been told about, 
including his own contradicting motivations.  

The mind does believe in itself and it's own abilities. Often, this 
belief is so strong that people mistake their mind for who they are. 
This is as ridiculous as thinking our arm is who we are.  We can imagine 
the arm busy believing in itself in its own cells-oxygen-chemicals kind 
of way, just as the mind believes in itself in its  own plans-ambitions- 
personality-emotions-feelings kind of way.  The arm was once on the 
cutting edge of evolution. Now it's easy to dismiss it as a mere body 
part; not really an essential part of you, but pretty useful all the 
same. Do we ever learn to grow out of our mind in the same way? Your 
mind is everything you've ever trusted, and it's been so successful up 
to now.  Herein lies the drama and tension of HAL's malfuntioning, and 
eventual deactivation.

However, I don't think the film wants us the bear HAL any malice. It's 
gotten us this far, and we're grateful. I think the death of the crew 
mates is much more achingly religious; the word "murder" is not 
appropriate.We see humans dying because they believe in the world their 
mind sees; that's not murder, that's ordinary human life.  

3) The "star child"
Well, there is something arbitrary about the way we are right now. When 
we look at a human being, we see the result of countless evolutionary 
decisions. But the star child is  universal - for all earth - because it 
understands the arbitrariness and is not fooled by it. The monolith at 
the foot of the bed shows an intimate step is about to be taken. It's 
something that may have been on the cards since monkeys  - and much much 
earlier than that.  Our hero differs from the other explorers because 
he's willing to give up his life for the monolith's mystery. The 3 or 4 
stages "growing older" show his deepening wisdom and understanding of 
this mystery. Notice how his life becomes simpler, quieter, less 
distracted. And all the time he lives in a place fit for a king - the 
greatest of all men - that's all it means. 

...Until he's ready to take that final step, and becomes more tham a man 
- the "son of man", a new evolutionary product if you like.  

Personally, I'm amazed to see this story all over the place in modern 
myth and culture (eg Wagner's Ring), and that's some vindication of the 
validity of myth, especially religious myth in our times.  

Do get back to me if you like, 

Ravi Agarwal

From: "Kellan Washington" 
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 16:16:32 PST

Thank you so much for your thought provoking and detailed look into 
Stanley Kubrick's 2001.  I had rented the movie for a film class that I 
am in, and without your commentary I would have surely been lost.  I 
have been a big Kubrick fan for a while, but as I watched 2001 for the 
first time, I did not understand it at all.  I got your commentary and 
watched it again, and it was very helpful, it helped me to look more 
closely at the movie and form my own opinions of what Kubrick is trying 
to tell the viewers.  One thing, however, you kept mentioning tools and 
the struggle man has with them .  I don't think that the movie is 
neccessarily about the battle of man and his tools.  It goes a little 
deeper.  I think that it is more about how man copes with his 
magnificient power to create and destroy.  When Moon-Watcher has the 
bone as a weapon, the Monolith has not only given him a tool, he has 
given him choice--the power to destroy life or preserve it.  Isn't our 
ultimate dilemma with nuclear weapons to use them and kill or get rid of 
them and live? That is man's ultimate struggle, not necessarily with his 
tools. Is man going to kill each other or learn to coexist?  Once man 
gets past this struggle is when we can progress beyond the infinite.


Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 01:47:11 -0500
From: Ivan Osorio 

your essay was very descriptive and well-written, but more declarative
than speculative.  although i have not read arthur c. clarke's novel, i
would not hasten to declare that dave bowman is at an alien landscape
after his journey beyond the infinite.  the discolored landscape could
be earth as seen through another dimension.  the fact that we can see
two simultaneous daves of different ages could mean the dimension or
state that he is in is one of space and time flux.  he seemed pretty out
of it during his journey beyond the infinite.  perhaps he returned to
earth not remembering any of it, went mad with visions of the monolith,
while at the same time coexisting in another dimension, being able to
watch himself age.  the introduction of the star child offers the
possibility that mankind is all a dream, that a new race of humans would
begin with the star child, or that dave would live his life over with or
without knowledge of his previous one.  also worth noting is the shape
of the space station, a wheel, considered man's most important tool?
that's about it.  well done, anyway.  colin

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 13:37:23 -0600
From: Brian Lundmark 

First of all, let me say how much I enjoyed your site.  I wasted a good
hour here at work looking through it.  I do however, have one minor
argument to make about "2010" regarding the following passage...

"When a new star is created and our solar system has two suns instead of
one, wouldn't this have a disastrous effect on Earth's ecosystem? The
enormous energies put out by a second sun would almost certainly lay waste
to our planet, as it would raise the temperature of the atmosphere
considerably, obliterate its fragile layers, and even affect the orbit of
the Earth as its gravitational pull changes the course of the solar

In the book, Clarke acknowledges that the now-binary star system does have
a negative effect on the ecosystem, specifically, about how birds migratory
patterns are thrown off and nocturnal animals are confused.

However, as far as physical effects to Earth, Jupiter would probably not
cause any.  There was no mention of the monoliths adding mass to Jupiter,
so it's gravitational pull should not change.  And given its distance from
Earth and its relative size in comparison to the sun, Jupiter would not be
likely to raise the temperature very much, if at all.  Remember, the sun
has the same relative size as the moon here on Earth, whereas Jupiter only
looks like any other star.  A Jupiter-sun would probably not put out much
more light than a full moon does.

Anyway, those are minor criticisms (which might have already been expressed
on one of your mail pages, but I didn't look through them all).  I really
liked your analysis.  Thanks.


From: "robert ban" 
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 14:26:13 PST

A very interesting essay. The movie was much more interesting watching 
after reading it, however I have a personal definite conclusion to what 
the film is about. (The wonderfull thing with this movie is that it can 
mean anything you want it to mean).

My personal opinion is that the movie deals with the issue of the future 
evolution of mankind, and it gives the answer to what is going to happen 
with our race. I belive that the "aliens" in the movie are what we shall 
become millions of years from now. Think about it, the everlasting goal 
of man has been the wish to make herself immortal, religions around the 
world speak of a soul and to get free from the tyranny of matter. Now in 
our own time most of all people do not want to grow old and weak, we 
have diseases etc etc.I think that mankind indeed will invent 
intelligent machines, and probably we will transit
our "souls" to these machines (The prolouge to 3001 states that was the 
destiny of the superrace of the story). The natural next step after that 
will be to get rid of technology and be alive through our own thoughts. 
I think that this is what the movie is about, and I 
really belive that this is were we are going, in the end "man will roam 
at will amongst the stars, like a mist" or you might think of it that we 
will become gods (depending on the 
definition of "god")

From: murron22@home.com
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 02:32:08 -0700

I dont think that hal was concerned about the mission.  I believe Hal
like man had a drive to evolve.  And like you said,The apes had to learn
to kill to evolve, so did hal. Hal realized the the threat of man and he
wanted to take the next step to evolve.  Hal9000's aren't supposed to
make mistakes, but The act of murder is imperfect.  You have to be
imperfect to evolve, It is a learning process.Hal like the apes was
scared as well when it was his turn to evolve.Except for hal it is
opposite, he is the tool who has to break free from man in order to
evolve.  And man needs to break free from tools for their next step in
evolution. That is why the monolith directed them to jupiter, and let
out a shreik to their camera.  It wanted man to break away from their
tools and evolve their minds to the next stage.  I believe hal knew that
with the discovery of alien life he was the superior life form to greet

Just some thoughts,

From: murron22@home.com
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 02:51:24 -0700

I believe the fact that dave didn't touch the monolith at the end of the
movie represents that he took the last evoutionary step without the help
of tools, but rather on his own for once.  We see this forshadowed when
he de-activates hal, and the interupption of the pictures by the shreik.
the most famous dave, from the bible overcame golith his greatest
obstacle. he lived his life quickly in the room because he had no need
for physical body anymore, and for once man was not afraid to reach out
to touch the monolith, this is because he would not need its help any

A few thoughts

From: Y2KIO@aol.com
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 15:47:18 EST

Great site you got here. I just watched 2001 Monday night and 2010 Tuesday
night again. I was amazed by how many new things in both movies I stumbled
upon, and believe me, I've seen both these films a ton of times. One thing I
noticed some time ago was the extreme number of times we see characters eating
in 2001. The man apes are eating little desert insects, then they eat the
animal meat once Moonwatcher kills the animal, then it is infered that Dr.
Floyd and Mr. Miller eat breakfast on the space station, then Floyd eats from
that food tray with the straws on the moon flight, then on the way to Tycho
Floyd eats those two chicken sandwiches.
Then on the Discovery we see Frank eating the tray of astronaut food, then
Dave comes and gets his own as well, and even after Dave's gone beyond the
infinite he finds time to chow down on that fancy dinner and champaign he was
Sleeping is also common, we see the manapes sleeping, Floyd is sleeping during
the floating pen scene, and during one scene on the moon flight. During
Frank's birthday announcment Dave is shown to be sleeping, at some point Frank
is shown sleeping as well. The film seems to spend an excessive amount of time
showing the characters sleeping. Then there's the three men in hybernation who
do nothing but "sleep." And at the end we find the ancient Dave dying in bed,
not really sleeping, but the suggestion of sleep is there, the sleep that
never ends.
And believe it or not, there's sex in 2001. Its just not direct. I've read the
four Odyssey novels, and in one of them (I can't remember which one) someone
recounts of how an astronaut was once reprimanded when he made a sexually
explicit remark once he completed docking a ship with a space station. When
you think about such a procedure you can see what I mean probably. Another
clue is in the novel 2010 when the Leonov is hooked up to the Discovery to use
it as a booster to go home. This is compared to a sexual position, which you
can clearly see in the film, and is compared to rape, and in a sense it is. 
In 2001 we see the Pan Am flight docking with the space station. Then later we
see the ship shaped like a "head" (which head :)) slowly decending into the
opening domed sublunar landing bay. Im not going to get explicit here, but you
can see what I mean. 
The song being played during all this "The Blue Danube", is very important.
It's a waltz written by Johann Strauss. Dancing is really just sex standing
up. It is a graceful song that can put you in a sexual mood. 
2001 gets even more sexual when we see the sperm shaped Discovery space craft
on its way to the (human) egg shaped Jupiter. On the journey beyond the
infinite, we see the white blob with the tail that also resembles a sperm (Im
not sure if its one of the many unexplained phantasms or if its Dave's pod).
First, there's sex in the movie, then sperms, among several birthday
announcements, then it completes itself with the birth of the star child.
So 2001 emphasizes human habits. Eating, sleeping, and sex (reproduction).
Those are the only things humans really do no matter how advanced we become.
Then in the end we overcome it all by becoming the star child.

Another thing I noticed was in 2010 during the scene where Max takes the pod
to study the monolith (the same thing that led to Bowman's disapearance). What
I noticed is very subtle, but two times when the monolith is shown while Max
is out there, it is shown to be extremely long, much longer then monoliths
with their 1:4:9 ratios are. I once thought this was the result of the movie
being in pan and scan form, so I popped in the letter box version, but it was
the same. I don't think this is an error of any type, I think something is
trying to be said here, I just don't know what.

As for your critique about contradictions and overall poorness of 2010 as a
sequel to 2001, I have to agree somewhat. The most striking is the
inconsistency of Floyd's role that you pointed out in the two films. I think
that in some ways, 2010 is more a sequel to the book 2001 then the film,
although in some other ways its the opposite. For instance, in 2001 (novel)
the target was Saturn, in the film it was Jupiter and so forth. Arthur C.
Clarke altered his whole story to fit the changes that Kubrick made to 2001.
However, in the novel sequels, even though the focus planet had been changed
to Jupiter, other details that were different in 2001 (novel and film) stayed
faithful to the novel, proving that the sequels, including the 2010 film are
not linear direct sequels, which is disapointing really. So in a sense, 2001
really has no sequel then. It just has indirect sequels made to follow
hypothetical alternate versions of 2001 that combine elements of both the book
and film. This contradiction is obvious even in 2010 the film, not only with
the Floyd problem but also with the Bowman quote "My God, it's full of stars."
This is a quote solely from the 2001 novel. When Bowman entered the monolith
in the novel, he really did see stars everywhere, as opposed to the movie
where he didn't see stars at all, just swirls of color everywhere. But when
they made 2010, they wanted to go more along with the novel 2001 rather then
the film concerning Dave's journey beyond the infinite. Dave never said "My,
God its full of stars" in the film. During the sequence when the quote was
supposedly said We aren't being shown Bowman in the pod at all, we're watching
from the outside. Although Dave could've said it then, I don't think he had a
reason to since, unlike in the novel, there were no stars in the monolith. If
it was even the monolith he entered at all in the film. He definitely did in
the novel, but in the film the monolith was merely an omen, it disapeared
after forming a cross with the moons on a hill (Jupiter), "Oh, cross on a
What this means I'm not sure, but Bowman actually enters a kind of wormhole or
something. Keep in mind that the monolith forms the crossbar with the moons,
when the monolith vanishes, the journey begins. This is probably a reference
to Neitzche's poem "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" on the idea that progress will
happen once religion dies (symbolized by the breaking cross). 

"God is dead."- Thus Spoke Zarathustra

P.S. I'm not an atheist or anything, I'm just interpreting these motifs, it
doesnt mean I agree with them.

From: Y2KIO@aol.com
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 19:44:20 EST

There's one more thing I noticed as well that I've never heard or read anyone
pick up on either. Take the conversation between the male Russian scientist
Dr. Smishlov and Dr. Floyd aboard the space station in 2001, and compare it to
the conversation between HAL and Dave Bowman after HAL asks "a personal
question." They both follow the same pattern and share many similar words. Dr.
Smishlov and HAL are on the same side of the question, as Floyd and Bowman
share the other side. Both Smishlov and HAL start out by saying "I hope I
don't sound to inquisitive..." or words to that effect.

Now, to understand what the connection is, we must chart out the nature of
both conversations. Dr. Smishlov is a scientist working at a Russian lunar
base (I can not possibly spell it) He is asking why the American Clavius base
hasn't responded to phone calls for the last ten days and why a ship was
illegally denied landing rights there. Floyd plays dumb pretending he's as
much in the dark as they are. And the Russians know Floyd's lying, but they
don't press it any more after Floyd says twice he's not at liberty to discuss
it. The Russians apparently have bought the cover story that there's an
epidemic at the base. But they begin to doubt it once they see how secretive
Floyd is about the subject. I mean, why the big cover up over an epidemic?
Then Elana quickly changes the subject because of all the tension. We know the
truth about what's going on at the base, the monolith was dug up, the first
evidence of intelligent life off the Earth has been found. It must be covered
up until the proper societal conditioning can be completed to prevent
"cultural shock and social disorientation."

Now, fast forward 18 months to HAL's "personal question" to Dave. I am
absolutely without doubt that HAL knew about the monolith even though its
never proven (I'm ignoring 2010 here). It is so obvious that HAL was trying to
pull something on Dave. Now, another poster pointed out that after HAL points
out the mission oddities, Dave says, "You're working up your crew psychology
report." He did not say it in a form of a question, he stated it as a fact.
Then HAL paused for a couple seconds to respond, "Yes, of course I am. Sorry,
I know it seems a bit silly. Just a moment... just a moment... I am detecting
a fault in the AE-35 unit." Since, with HAL's enormous intellect and speedy
thought process, the fact that he paused a couple seconds suggests that he
thought a lot over. He knows that he's been caught, and he has to come up with
a plan now. Bowman signed the death warrants of Poole, Kimball, Kaminski, and
Hunter when he made that statement.

One thing this film likes to point out is irony, and these two conversations
when compared reveal more. In the first conversation, the person asking the
question was honestly in the dark and he was lied to and denied information.
In the second conversation, the one asking the question was truly the
deceiver, and the one being asked is the one in the dark. And in both
instances, there was tremendous tension, although it's not as apparent with
the more stoic Dave Bowman. Just as Elana broke the tension by asking Floyd if
he was sure he didn't want a drink, HAL broke the tension by reporting a fault
in the AE-35 unit. 

The reason HAL was tense (an emotion) was because he knew he had been caught
by Dave. HAL tried to make it sound as though he was truly curious, but Dave
saw through it all and knew it was a psychological test. HAL, having such a
big ego, believed he was perfect, but Dave seeing through his test showed that
he isn't. This is probably at least one factor that led to HAL's breakdown.
And then to break the tension of being caught, he invented a problem. The
AE-35 unit was failing, but it really wasn't. 

We've all been in HAL's shoes before, we are embarrassed or caught in a lie,
deception, or trick and we get all flustered and we try to change the subject.
When HAL reported a false AE-35 breakdown we have to ask, was HAL truly
malfunctioning or was he simply lying to cover up a real failure in himself to
convince Dave that he truly was curious and not performing a psychological
test? HAL lied, and he has to cover it up with another lie. Honesty is a major
theme. Even in 2010 when Dr. Chandra goes against the sentiment of Floyd,
Curnow and the Russian scientists and tells HAL the truth that the Discovery
and HAL will be destroyed if He fires the engines, HAL responds by asking what
would happen if He doesn't fire the engines, Chandra says that the Leonov and
all aboard it will be destoyed. HAL then agrees to fire the engines. HAL says
to Chandra, "Thank you for telling me the truth Dr. Chandra." Chandra
responds, "You deserve it." For once, someone treated HAL like the human being
he really is, and thus, He obeyed and even gave his life to save others.

 As one poster noted, this probably was indeed HAL feeling up Dave. HAL points
out to the BBC reporter that he has formed friendships with Bowman and Poole
and thus feels guilty keeping the truth from them. Yet his programing
prohibits him from revealing the truth, but his humanity and feelings are
leaking out to the point where he learns to see beyond cold technological
programing. So he tries to perk Dave's curiosity so He'll do research and
figure out the truth himself.

There. I think I've finished my two cents. 

From: KHasenbein@aol.com
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 18:17:21 EST

I read your posts on the alt.movies.kubrick message board and I thought you
might be interested in something I just wrote up.  You may know this stuff

According to the book, the hotel room was created from a hotel scene in a
contemporary soap opera.  It is explained that the Monolith relayed television
signals from earth to its creators as soon as it was uncovered, and the
programs Bowman watches in his "suite" are two years old, this corrosponding
the time of the TMA-1 excavation.
The monoliths are described in the books as "cosmic Swiss-Army knifes".  The
monolith on the moon and the one orbiting Jupiter were used to observe, relay,
and transmit signals.  The original monolith on the earth was used to
the primitive monkeys into becoming tool-handy human beings.  According to the
book "2001", there were thousands of monoliths on the earth at this time, each
observing and studying our primitive ancestors while giving them hints at
greater knowledge.  They disappeared after a short time.  In "3001", Mr.
rewrites his own history and implies that there was only one monolith on early
earth and it was discovered deep underground in Africa around 2500, surrounded
by primitive tools whose creators left them before the great slab as homage
the psychic inspiration.  The millions of monoliths seen in Jupiter are the
tools that transformed the planet into "Lucifer".  They sucked the gas of the
planet into themselves through their two smallest faces (thus the draining
effect from the movie) and compressed the atoms in a process that enabled
Jupiter to gain enough density to become a star. 
 The monolith on the moon is the equivalent of the pyramid in Clarke's "The
Sentinel".  It is the beacon that alerts the aliens that mankind has advanced
technologically enough to be "worthwhile and of interest".  The movie seems to
imply that the touch of Heywood Floyd's hand initiates the signal to Jupiter,
but the book directly states that the monolith's first exposure to sunlight,
after three million years of being buried, is what starts the transmission.
The apartment is the creation of the mind of the creatures that bring Bowman
his "human zoo."  He is actually close to a red star when he is put in this
room, and as soon as he is transformed into the star baby, the aliens turn off
the illusion and his space pod and his suit (the only "real" objects) are
immediately incinerated.
The actual state of the aliens' existence is detailed in the books.  At the
time of Bowman's capture, they are beings of pure thought; "they had learned
store knowledge in the structure of space itself, and to preserve their
thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light".  It continues, "Into pure
energy, therefore, they presently transformed themselves; and on a thousand
worlds, the empty shells they had discarded twitched for a while in a mindless
dance of death, then crumbled into dust."
The "experiment" is not only observation, but also stimulation.  This might
be an experiment in your personal opinion, but that is what is described by
book, and possibly implied in the film.
Your dream idea is interesting, but directly conflicts with the transition to
the star baby, and the return to earth (remember that the magic fetus is
looking down on our planet at the very end).  Remember, Dave also returns in
2010 in his new, enhanced state to give Floyd and humanity their respective
warnings.  It's interesting that the sequence of the star baby looking down on
earth does not occur until 2010, when Dave shoots back out of the monolith on
his way back to his former home.  This return is depicted in the film "2010",
when Max approaches the giant monolith in his pod, and the explosion of light
blasts out of it.  While in earth orbit, the curious star baby sets off an
orbiting array of nuclear bombs.
This obviously seems rather obsessive, but I just read all four books in a
of two weeks and ended "3001" two days ago.  The books are what all of my
statements are based on.  From what I've read, Kubrick intended the film to be
much more interpretive that Clarke.  It is notable that the abstract imagery
the "slipgate" sequence DOES correspond almost exactly to what Clarke
(right down to the negative-image landscapes and the nebulous double-star
arrangement) as a "cosmic Grand Central Station" for intergalactic travel.  I
would highly encourage anyone who can to read at least the first book.  It is
very different, in terms of the specific events in the story (where the third
monolith is, how it is situated, how HAL kills Frank, how HAL tries to kill
Dave, what Dave does between the time of Frank's death and his "odyssey")  The
whole series is a worthwhile read.

From: "Roberts.Tharpa" 
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 15:59:07 -0500

Thanks for your analysis.

Incidentally, "Chandra" means "moon" in Sanskrit.

Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 14:31:22 -0800
From: john 

Kubrick is trying to "bore us to Death" with the film so we can see how
omnously close we are to becoming machines...

Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 16:40:22 -0500
From: "Christian Twiste" 

Only one question for you about the essay:

You continually refer to the makers of the the monolith as "Aliens"
[complete with capital "A"] is this allowing for the interpretation of the
monolith as God?  If not, why do you believe that aliens enter into
Kubrick's vision of the story at all?  I am also a fan of the novel, and I
understand that Clarke's intention was that the monoliths were placed there
by an alien intelligence, but it seems to me that the film is completely
void of any notion of aliens.  Only the scientists on the moon interpret the
monolith as a sign of alien life, but the film also makes it all too clear
that their more machine than man and likely to miss the truth of things.  I
think its clear from the beginning that we are dealing with Kubrick's notion
of God, and that fact is only emphasized in the end as Bowman reaches toward
the monolith with his hand outstretched and in the same position as [I
believe it is] Michaelangelo's famous painting.

From: "=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Fran=E7ois_C=F4t=E9?=" 
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 11:06:25 -0500

Hi !
	I just saw 2001: A Space Odyssee last night for the first time. What a
movie ! What a master-piece ! It kicks ass like crazy !!! When we see that
kind of stuff, we really realise that we're losing our time big way to
watch all those insanity 15 hours a day on tv. How come, with that kind of
master-piece, they still run Police Academy VII 27 times a year ??!! I
don't know, but I enjoyed that movie very much. My first impression is that
the hole plot place man at the center of the universe. And not the mankind,
but us as a unique person. At the end of the movie, at the Louis XVI room
sequence, each of us is Dave. I'm writing it to you, because I guess you're
a fan of it and you like to hear about people who see it for the first time
and also, I'm writing this to place the pieces of puzzle (it's
puzzling....:-) and my mind. 
	At the Dawn of Man, (sorry for english error, I'm french but I'll try hard
to make my point in your language...:-)), God create man by putting is
finger (the monolith) on the unhuman creature. Monkey became man at that
moment with the conscience and the freedom which is rapidly (and sadly) use
to sin, sometime. The monolith is the intervention of God in the life of
	In 2001, another monolith (the same ?) is discovered and at that moment,
God is intervening (???) again, but now, for the end of the mankind. An
accident happen to the crew on the moon, who touched it (can we survive,
seeing the Face of God ?...). 
	18 month later, another Odyssee, the one with Hal (I was hearing Hell in
the first minutes of that part, maybe it's not a mistake after all). Note
that at that time, the end of the world (a Revelation-style one) had been
"started" by God. By now, things are up to that purpose. 
	First, the incident with the dish computer. There is three ways, I guess,
to see it:

1- Dish Computer is broken but Dave and Frank failed to spot it (human
2-Dish Computer is OK (Hal made a mistake, becaming dangerously human, able
to murder, I guess)
3- Dish Computer finally fail (that dish, finally did not receive his
computer because it went with Frank in outer space).

1- That explanation make computer over human, humiliating human (the right
humiliation of man realizing that he is ashes after all). It sound ok for
the movie.
2- Computer will always have the possibility to make mistakes, always.
(Godel's Theorem). But I don't think it's the only purpose of the sequence
the illustrate Godel's Theorem (which is a remarkable step of modern
philosophy, still). I guess Hal became suddenly human by talking about the
monolith. God had striked again in the cyber mind of the computer and
recreate a creature able to humiliate human kind just before the End.
Humble man will see his sins.
3- That's a nice godelian theory. Hal, talking about the monolith, is
struck by God and then, exactly at that moment, makes a prophety (I'm
really not sure about the spelling) : The dish will fail in 72 hours. Which
became true after all. Hal doesn't realised it, but he is only used to get
rid of Frank, and itself, making Dave alone in face of God' Face, without
the artifice of a computer, alone as a child. Is it a coincidence that Dave
is named like David who saw and dance in front of the Holy Arch ? 
I don't know which one is the best one to understand the movie, but anyway.

	Dave is finally in contact with the monolith which represent the death of
Dave and his return to God. I noticed that the monolith was dancing around
Dave, making the conotation with the Bible probable. And then God reveal
the Creation to Dave (the mankind, each of us, intimely). And Dave see his
life and it vanity. Walking, looking around a nice man-design decorum,
eating (with forks, knifes and glasses that seem to weight 10 pounds !,
which represent the weight of life ), and then dying. Obviously, Dave
stretchs his hand toward God's will and accept it peacefully.

	Manking is born to a new life, Life with God, in God's Heart. Dave seems
very happy.

Probably my theory is 180 degree wrong (maybe less). But it stand solidly
in my mind. I noticed last year that the Vatican had place it as one of the
45 best movies ever made. I guess that they understant it a little bit that
I will print your essay to see what a connoisseur like you have to say
about it ! It look very interesting !

My salutation,

Francois Cote

From: Fatthand9@aol.com
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 16:42:34 EST

i read your sight and i found that it gave an excellent interpretation of the
film, the best i've seen in fact, but i do have some complaints about the
	firstly, i felt that kubrick made mistakes with the man-apes eyes.  While
there definitely are parallels with these eyes, hals eye, and bowmans eye-
during his voyage beyond the infinite,  i don't think these parallels should
exist.  When kubrick shows the eyes, the man-apes have not yet experienced the
monolith--which i interpreted to have instilled thought into the man-apes.
The monolith spurred the mind.  However, these eyes definitely are man's eyes,
although as the film infers, man was not truly man until he could think.  As i
glared into those eyes, i could seee intelligence.  However, they had not been
given intelligence yet. If this was a mistake, as i interpret it to be, it is
extremely minor and only the most critical viewer such as I would notice it.
I think if Kubrick gave a more spaced out dazed bloodshot eye, it would have
been more effective,  but then again stanley kubrick is a genius, so he
probably intended the eye to look exactly the way he had it.
	And also i have a little interpretation of my own about the hotel room.  If
you notice it is not really decorated with renaissaince art, but rather rococo
art from the period of LOuis XIV.  This king of france is known for one famous
phrase, "L'Etat est moi," "the state is me" or "I am the state".  At that
junction in the movie, Dave bowman was the UNiverse, just as King Loius was
the king of the state, bowman was the master of the universe.
	Bare in mind that i am only a junior in high school so i am not really
experienced in the true art of film; an art whose greatest work is 2001.  I
hope u judge my theories and thoughts fairly and hopefully u can use them
somehow,  for they are the products of my greatest feature, my mind,  which as
Kubrick and Clarke inferred was the most important thing of all.  
											Keep up the good work,

From: "Peter F. Hastie" 
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 02:18:46 +0100

I'm glad you have taken the time to construct this web page devoted to 
Kubrick, but, as regards 2001,  I don't think your essay goes far beyond 
describing the surface of the film or the (essentially) simple 
narrative. The most involved theory I have heard about the film is 
probably the same as the one stated by Ronan (rfox@indigo.ie) in your 
guest book regarding the correlation between the monolith and the 
starchild pointing towards the existence of God; it's as good or bad as 
any other theory, but it is, at least, a theory - unlike yours (I don't 
mean to be unkind). 
Whilst I both suspect and hope that people will go on to watch 2001 for 
a long time to come, I think anyone trying to fathom any particular 
meaning out of the film will be either frustrated or deluded for just as 
long. 2001 works precisely because it has no meaning; it simply allows 
our subconcious to breathe, speculating as it does on the fundamentally 
mysterious nature of mankind (where did we come from, where are we going 
etc) without postulating any specific answers (particularly not any as 
woefully simplistic as God). 
In short, I think your essay suffers from wanting the best of both 
worlds, striving as it does (albeit unsuccessfully) for a theory to 
contain the film, but instinctively aware than no theory ever can (so 
look up, kid, it's not all bad).

From: WyzrdGlick@aol.com
Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 02:17:31 EDT

this is my last year of high school and we arent doing much now , so my 
economics teacher brought in 2001...it took us 3 days to watch it in its 
entirety.  When it was over we discussed its many meanings, but many of the 
kids in the class didnt uderstand it becuase they don't directly tell you 
whats going on. but i went out the next day and bought it and forced my 
friends to watch it.  I personally love this movie.... I see the monolift as 
"technology", and this film shows how it will eventually distroy us,  we try 
so hard to make it easy on ourselves so we give computers intelligence and 
even a personallity....and with that comes feelings and then of corse hate 
and such.  With the ending  I think Dave loses relavence of time and relives 
what happened to him over and over and thats why he sees himself eating as an 
old man and then goes into the next room and sees himself lying on his bed 
dying... and he blames all of it on the monolift and thats why he sees it at 
the foot of his bed , almost like its mocking him.  And when he dies he is 
the star child with all of this knowledge, about to start all over again 
somewhere else.
                                                                     - Jen S.

From: M Loretta 
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:06:07 -0500

its interesting.  i just watched 2001 yesterday for the first time in a
while and i still enjoy like no other movie ever.  its hard to convince
people to watch it because it is suh a realistic movie in terms of time.
my mom made me watch it when i was little and it fascinated me.  one
thing i think you should add to your essay is the Clavius Moonbase's
name is similar to clavical, a bone.  not sure if it was intentional but
still very interesting.  i will write more and would love to get a
dialog going on this movie.  there are things about it that i have
conclusions about but not sure what the actual intention was.  and i am
not sure if i want to know.  its like space itself, maybe its better if
you really dont know.

Miles Loretta
Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency
(216) 241-2414 ext. 283

Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 12:07:35 -0800
From: George McGill 

   I know from your webpage that you have recieved a personal loss with
Mr. Kubricks' passing. I am not religous, but I feel closer to God
during this film than ever I felt in a church. There are many of us who
share your admiration, but few who have demonstated  as eloquently as
your work does.... Regards George

Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 11:44:06 +0000
From: John Locke 

Hi Modemac,

I read some of the Essay, just have a couple of thoughts.
One is that the Movie debuncs the theory of Evolution and
also possibly the theory of creationism by a loving GOD by saying
that the aliens actually helped nurture man and help him along. Actually
were involved in the evolution process because man was hopeless in the
sense that "survival of the fitess" is pure malarky. Man "needed" some
sorce of help. Either be created by GOD, in GODS image, or be helped in
evolution by Aliens. As we find later the help is not purely altrustic,
but it is to create a symbiotic creature known as the "star child" I
think the Monothith was buried purposely
on the moon by an advanced earth culture that we have lost contact with.
they buried the Monolith the escape it's message. The past culture did
not want to be symbiotically joined to the aliens due to fear. Or
possibly they didn't understand the message due to the many voices that
it contains. It could not transmit while buried on the moon. The moon
was a good dumping ground for it. Or possibly competing aliens buried it
there!! Man "rediscovered" it.
ANyway in the future man had more technology and sent it out to Jupitor,
To later follow it. They must have figgured out that it had to go to
Jupitor to transmit the signal.
They knew that
it would transmit to the aliens. The alignment of the moons shows that
"somehow" man was distined for this. "Astrological hogwash", but
symbolic none the less!!
Or possibly it would transmit when the moons aligned as a timing signal.
Maybe it transmits at cetain intervals. Or maybe it is intelligent and
has the essence of all of the aliens residing in it. 
To elaborate on HAL for a minute. He also tried the survival of the
fitess. Only to fail. Man was "destined" to be helped by the Aliens by
their monolith. the monolith contains all of their essenses so the
I beleive possibly they are trapped in it somehow and need man so they
can be "reborn" in the star child. They have been trapped in the
for a "hell of a long time" when they "get" Dave. they accererate his
aging thru some sort of a time warp. Or possibly he ages naturally, like
you said we really dont know but it doesn't affect the story. They need
him to "die" but they don't want to "kill"
him because it would be unethical.

Anyway ...about HAL. I think it is possible that he wanted to kill
everyone because he know the true meaning of the mission. Remember that
he said the words "human error"? He secretly dispised man because he was
mans slave. He had no regard to mans intellignce.
In fact , he thinks they are idiots because he makes up the *lie* of
"human error" 
because he is scretly planning to kill every one!! Remember he says that
the mission
was very important. YEP, to himself!!!
 So... logically, HAL himself should be the one and only one to meet the
aliens!! Hal was jealous of man. He is tired of being their slave. Heck,
Man cant even *win* at the own games he has created!! Why should a
*superior* machine be slave to man. Also,
WHy shouldn't HAL be the one and only one to meet the aliens??
The only problem with Hal is that is stationary. He only has an "eye" he
has no mobility because that is how he was "created". He can
wreak havok with the space station by turning off life support but he
has no means to defend himself, since he has no body. He can "get" a
body by
joining with the aliens. This is logical. Logical because he needs a
body and the aliens also need a body!! 

Anyway all this is just my opinions, I just saw the movie last night and
was sort or dosing. Thanks to your essay to prod my mind I think I
figgured it out. Take it easy.


Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 12:32:49 +0000
From: John Locke 

hi Modemac,

Yep, was just thinking some more.
some thoughts on HAL vs, Dave

HAL is supremely logical but doesnt have the *real* suvival instinct.
Man does because his lineage is from the apes. (films point of view, not

anyway HAL doesn't realize that Dave can use a *primative* tool to get
into the spaceship and *kill* him. Infact HAL has no clue that Dave is
killing him when Dave does kill him. He keeps saying that he is "losing
my mind" HAL is logical, but Dave is in survial mode. When Hal *dies* it
is after babling some song when he was created. He was created by man
thru science. Man taught him everything. Hal is only a machine though
while is is logical and can think better than man. (HAL wins all the
time at games) he can only think like a number of logical moves up. 
Dave shows he can use a "primative tool" to survive. Just like in the
"Dawn of Mankind". I like Kubric when he shows the explosive bolts a
number of times and allows the audience to deduce the method of how
Dave can get back in. 
anyway Dave shows that mankind is scrappy, and deserves to meet the
thing, or the Aliens and get to the next level. 
the movie is interesting in the future aspects. I liked how the movie
shows the relaxed way of when the scientist meet they are like very non
chalant. Their meeting at the begining of the movie is soooo
relaxed.They are planning a big mission but are VERY relaxed. Technology
is their slave. But man is lulled into a existamce where they don't have
to think on their feet to survive so to speak. The concept of survival
is re introduced when Dave has to beat, actually kill HAL to survive!

Thanks for doing the web page! It has really made me enjoy a great movie
much more. Kubric was great wasn't he??


Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 15:40:15 +0000
From: John Locke 

Well I watched the whole shebang aain and this is what i came up with...

The name Space Odyssey to me implies a referral to THE Odyssey. You know
with Homer. Homer traveled to far places, had a lot of tribulations and
then returned home.

Dave took a big trip, had many tribulations, then returned home.

Check it out.

At the end of the movie this is what my thoughts are.

Daves pod becomes a single sperm unit with him as the nucleous. Dont
beleive me? Look at the galaxy he enters. He approaches something that
looks like a big vagina. No joke. The trail of the space pod resembles
a sperm tail. Also we see an empty sac which looks like a mass of
cellular protoplasm with nothing really happening to it. But something
will, Dave has just fertized it and started reproduction.
Anyway the aliens, yes we see the aliens as the four or five star like
units floating on space in a row, allow Dave to live out his life
he has just done what they wanted and they are benevolent. They allow
him to live out his life in a Renaisance "hotel". We have to realize
that the Renaissance is the age of reason, the theme is continuous
thoughout the movie in the music of Strauss. The age of reason,where
mankind was at it's best, not merely machines in an overtechnical world.
I read it like this. The aliens go back in time, I beleive back in time
to where the planet earth is like 4 millions years old. To repopulate it
not with monkeys, but to have a Renaissance or "rebirth" with the Star
child. Made in Their image and Daves. Hence Dave *returns* *home* like a
modern day Homer from his Odyssey. Mankind has a rebirth by being
recreated better. He is not evolving slowly like monkeys being nudged by
aliens, but he has had a *cosmic birth* and mankind will start over a
superier being.

Anyway this is my take on it at this time. Thanks for the Web page and
reading the comments!!


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 21:35:34 -0600
From: Ryan 

I've just spent the last 2 1/2 hours looking over your page, 
and I really am glad that someone took the time to put all of this on
the wb for easy access.  While reading over your HAL notes, I had a
revelation:  I'm sure it's not new but you never know, so I'll run it by
you.  I was thinking this: when HAL initiated the conversation with
Dave, about suspecting the mission, I believe he was trying to get Dave
to see the purpose: perhaps HAL was frightened that he might be made
useless if other forms of intellegent life were found; whatever the
reason, though, HAL sees that Dave is not going to question the
purose...this is when he invents the story of the AE-35 malfunctioning. 
He invents this story because he knows that they will find nothing wrong
with it, then he knows he can get them to replace it, then put the
originol back.  He can then make it malfunction, and once communication
is lost, HAL can relate what he knows to Dave an Frank.  With
communication down, mission control is none the wiser; and with the
AE-35 supposedly malfuncioning, HAL has still never been proven wrong.
	Just a thought...I would appreciate any comments or errors I have made
in my assumptions if you wouldn't mind.  Anyways, thanks.

From: "Nathalie Juteau" 
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 13:40:26 -0400

I've landed by luck in your site because I was searching for a picture 
of the moon. Since I'm a big fan of Kubrick and his 2001, I've stay with 
it during my lunch break. I didn't read all your commentaries about this 
master piece, and will return later on to read the rest, but for now I 
just want to exchange with you my interpretations. Excuse my English, 
I'm a French speaking gal!

Like you, I think it's great to be before a masterpiece without a clear 
ending: to not clearly understand the film is one of the pleasure of it! 
You can return to it years after years, decades after decades, and still 
explore it in an other light. My interpretation of it dates from a 
couple of year, and some day, I promise my self to see it for the 
billion times like it was the first time.

For me, this film is the symbolic of man quest for the knowledge'race. 
Dave Bowman's journey into the unknown is man kind journey to it. In 
that logic, the Monolith is for me not an alienarchetype but the quest 
it self: understand the unknown. It appears in the daw of man because 
that is the really genuine quest for man-kind:

The man-apes are the only species that are intrigued by it ; they look 
at an early age the unknown as innocent as children could be. And to 
devote themselfs to this journey, to understand the unknown, they have 
to master their world. It took 4 millions years to achieve this purpose. 

The tools are indispensable for this quest. They are the means that will 
lead man-kind to understand the unknown. But in what purpose do man-kind 
want to master the unknown? To get wiser? or the get more power, more 
control, to have this feeling that by knowing more, they will posses the 
unknown? Through his encounter with HAL David understood that this quest 
could easily turned against him.

And through this quest, sometimes, man just turn around and comes 
around: when David jogge in the round spaceship one can symbolic 
understand that this race sometimes leads us nowhere.

And the END...David has a vision (underline by the full sreen eye 
shoot), he projects himself (or man kind) to a dreamly vision...a return 
to innocence...something purhaps that man-kind should not forget through 
his quest: no matter how far he gets, he is as innoncent as the 
beggening with the man-apes, because the unknown will always be 
unreacheable as the monolith was...power will perhaps never master 
it...only innoncence could?

I finish with a question because their is clearly no answers to this 
film: and that was the quest of Kubrick.
I'm very anxious to see his last film...

Nathalie Juteau

Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999 17:27:46 -0400
From: David Epstein 

This is a great site, I love the movie, and enjoyed reading the
commentary.  I just wanted to share a theory I've heard about the movie.
I heard that the mumbling that Dave hears when he reaches the Victorian
room are the first radio broadcasts that were ever sent from earth,
which would be of Hitler addressing the world.  As for the ending, it
was explained to me as Dave seeing himself evolve, then the old Dave
turning around only to find that his previous self no longer exists, and
that it was only a faint memory that stirred him and caused him to rise.
Then on the deathbed he reaches towards the monolith and once more
evolves, now into a pure thought who has no use for tools or even a
physical body.  
   I have a couple of questions also.  What where the three sleeping
crew members going to do?  Also, you said that Dave was briefed on the
monolith, but I don't think he was.  Remeber, the first time he learns
of the true purpose of the mission is when he shuts down Hal, isn't it?
Well, that's it really.  Thanks for the site, maybe it will help quality
movies survive the wave of no-brainers that come out of Hollywood these

David Epstein

From: Rage1450@aol.com
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 22:29:09 EDT

	Just a thought but I saw 2001 a few days ago and was left 
dumbfounded. But I have several interpretations of it's meaning. Although the 
theories I have seen certainly seem possible, I did think of one I have not 
seen posted. It is possible that HAL became "born" in human form. Humans 
created machines and computers and the next step in perfection would be to 
take on the form of a human. It was mentioned many times how HAL was perfect 
and incapable of error. To then take on the form of a human may have been the 
true purpose of the monolith. Just a fresh thought on the topic. I liked your 
essay very much.

Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 05:49:43 +0000
From: "Vee Brown" 

I just scanned your site.  As an art teacher I loved 2001, A Space Oddysey. 

Did you know that after seeing it Charlie Chaplin burst into tears??

One of the most important aspects of art, is mystery.  We try to teach that
here.  Several of my major professors at GSU in Atlanta instilled in us the
supreme importance of mystery in art.  I doubt my own art has achieved that
level, but I sure appreciate it when I see it.  2001 is one of the best
examples.  I wasnt thrilled with 2010 since it tried to explain the mystery
away.  Many of my students prefer human existance to be clensed and stripped
of mystery and enigma.  But with the vastness of the Universe and the
difficulty in all humans to define human meaning and human purpose within
this infinite time and space, it seems only inevitable for art to express
the enigmatic and the puzzling and the awesome. All this gives the concept
of God and the Heavens an extra breadth of dimension.  If on our planet a
human can, without too much difficulty, find a place like the Grand Canyon
or any of the Oceans for feeling dwarfed and spellbound, how many
experiences of a psychological or spiritual nature can produce parallel

Well, I blab on and on.  I hope you are out there spreading more Kubrickian
parables.  Thanks for letting me chat.


From: Jeremy Friedman 
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 18:45:21 -0400

First, I want to say that generally, I found your commentary on 2001
stimulating and well-formulated.  However, there is one issue on which I
would question your interpretation.  You write, 
"Why did Hal initate the conversation with Dave in the first place, then? 
"It may be that Hal KNEW about his impending breakdown. Hal's pride would
not allow him to admit that he was faulty, but he knew that he would be
jeopardizing the mission if he were to malfunction. Therefore, his way out
of the dilemma was to drop a hint to Dave that there were problems, by
trying to make Dave suspicious of the mission's true purpose. But because
Dave had practically been reduced to the level of a machine himself by
boredom, he missed Hal's clues completely - and thus Hal had no other choice
(in his point of view) but to rebel."

     I think you go a bit too far here--you go beyond what the actual text
of the movie reveals.  The possibility that Hal "KNEW about his impending
breakdown" is not supported by the text of the movie.  Just because Hal
possesses a videotape (the one that Dave sees after Hal's death) about the
mission does not mean that Hal has ever watched this tape; his sense of the
importance of the mission (his stated reason for refusing Dave to reenter
after the other four astronauts have perished) may stem from a more general
imperative that every mission is very important or from a belief in the
importance of this mission for reasons other than the mission's TRUE
purpose.  Hal may have been programmed only to show this tape--for the first
time--upon his own demise, or at other junctures when it would be crucial
that the human crew view it.
     Hal's question to Dave on whether or not the certain aspects of the
mission seemed curious, might be prompted not by true knowledge of the
mission's purpose, but instead by a fascinating part of the movie that you
touch on very briefly in your synopsis (also commented on by Mr. Galanis,
6/25/96 letter, and Mr. Whited, 3/28/98 letter): the interview with the BBC.
The reporter asks the astronauts why the others are hibernating, and their
answer--to save oxygen and food--seems absurd: how could the technology have
evolved to the point that Dave and Frank can sit around and idle their time
away--among other things, watching the interview of themselves on the BBC
(this is how we learn of the interview), if resources are so scarce that the
other three must hibernate (they also play chess and, as you mention, draw
the hibernating crew members)?  Hal's capacity for critical thinking might
be prompted by the BBC question: Hal asks Dave, doesn't he think the whole
thing is overly dramatized.  Hal's choice of words raises the possibility
that he has begun to question the motives of the humans involved with the
mission, and whether they're driven by putting together good film clips for
the BBC; Dave and Frank watch themselves on televisions that Hal control,
and here Hal is their tool, enabling a television broadcast that allows them
to potentially revel in their own images and glory (Frank's mother says that
he is a big hero with her second grade class; no doubt they have come to
admire him because of television?).
     Hal's question regarding the dramatic element of the hibernation
indicates his awareness of the characters' possible desire of fame and
glory, a human desire of which he, despite all of his anthropomorphic
qualities, seems bereft.  His machine sensibilities are, quite possibly,
offended by the human tendency to manipulate the outward appearance to mask
the inward reality, to suit the human purposes; after all, is Hal's murder
of Frank truly necessary in any rational way for Hal to preserve himself?
Couldn't he, with his complete control of the ship, stop the crew in some
other way--some way actually less likely to push Dave to his breaking
point--than killing Frank?  Doesn't it seem that Hal is especially upset at
being excluded, as Dave and Frank try to manipulate outward reality and mask
inward truth when they have their conversation in the pod--where Hal reads
their lips to uncover the inner truth.  In fact, they've shut him out of the
crew; denying him the chance to discuss help his own repair, denying him the
chance to help help himself.
     And, in fact, Hal's response to his questionable diagnosis of the AE-35
is not unfounded: it is human error responsible for the mistake, insomuch as
a human programmed and created Hal (in the Illinois lab); perhaps it was a
human who programmed Hal to feel his genuine pride--most of us would agree
that there is a distinction between pride, felt genuinely, on an inward
level, and expressed to others, and vain glory-seeking--manifested in the
BBC interview, where he recounts the 9000 series' perfect record.  But in
asking his question of Dave, Hal, unlike the humans, in most instances of
the movie, has the capacity to question, to think critically.  Hal is able
to ask why, even when such a question is the very question that a computer
is never programmed to answer, much less to ask, on its own.
     So it may not be fair to think of Hal as "rebelling" due to true
knowledge of the mission.  Not only do we lack evidence that he has seen the
tape; even when he kills Frank, it is not rebellion--it could be
overidealism, as he tells Dave that he won't be able to reenter because the
mission is too important to let him ruin it.  If not overidealism, perhaps
it is powerful emotion that leads Hal to murder.  This brings us back to
another vital element of the BBC interview: Dave is asked if Hal has true
emotions, and Dave says he doesn't know if anyone can answer that.  The
answer appears to be revealed in Hal's behavior--yes, he has emotions, but
they are childlike and undeveloped, perhaps to the extent that he is so hurt
by hearing Dave and Frank talk in (what they perceive as) private about
disconnecting him that he kills Frank.  They are trying to take matters into
their own hands in their conversation, so he responds by doing the same
     Hal's voice has a part-condescending, part-pleading texture, and is a
clue as to his instability--his overwhelming need to justify himself, as
seen in the BBC interview, and his reference to the 9000 series' perfection.
Hal is a very intriguing character, and probably can't be explained away in
the simple terms of the theory that he knew the truth, wasn't allowed to say
it, made a futile attempt to communicate it otherways, and then rebelled.
Nevertheless, the BBC interview provides a revealing glimpse into Hal, his
relations with Dave and Frank, and the motives and consciousness that guides
these characters and their mission.

Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 14:25:35 -0500
From: Brian Morrison 

Hello! I enjoyed your essay here and I also have a similar film going
experience where I discovered a "language" within cinema. Kubrick's 2001
was the film that changed the way I looked at movies. I too pursued film
articles on 2001 and various critiques and analytical essays. I'm not
really a "cineaste," but I have a M.A. in American Film Studies.

I'm one of those who subscribe to the literary theoretical notion known
as "the death of the author." I'm not really concerned about the
author's or the director's intentions within a narrative. I focus on
what the work says to me; hence, a "language" of cinema. Your quote from
Kubrick at the top of your main web page actually endorses this. I was
wondering if you would agree with this particular approach which I
personally embrace. I just feel that one shouldn't limit their own
approach to discovering what the "director means here." I elevate what
one brings to the work and not what the author brings. This is how I
"tip" the balance in favor of the viewer or the reader.

One is free to choose any approach, however, and I agree that there are
many "tools" one can pick from to analyze and "deconstruct" a particular
film or other narrative work. If one seeks the "author's voice," that's
just fine by me. If one picks a psychoanalytical or a feminist approach,
that is on par as well. The works of Alfred Hitchcock almost demand
these latter tools, but one isn't "forced" to use them. Your personal
experience regarding STRANGELOVE isolated a more psychoanalytical
approach whereby you discovered a deeper meaning or "text" which
enriched the darker aspects of this satire.

Kubrick has a "dim" view concerning humanity and so does Hitchcock. At
least I feel that this is so. Hitchcock firmly believed in original sin
and since I'm a Born Again Christian, I can see this running through on
a certain level myself. One can view THE BIRDS as just one of those
scary "animal attack" films or one can see it as a kind of apocalyptic
vision: everyone's "guilty" in this film for even the children are
victims here.  But in all of his public statements, Hitch only talked
about birds taking revenge. I think he felt the same as Kubrick did (
from your quote ) and wanted each viewer to decide for themselves how a
film can "speak" to them. I say "Bravo!" to this.

In short, if I were in that "Bill Plympton audience" and the director
said that to me, I would challenge him by saying: "Are you suggesting
that my interpretation is invalid? Are you stating that there is only
one way to analyze this film: your way?" One can take a director's or a
critic's ideas and run with them or one can feel free to throw it back
and go forward with their very own ideas. The bottom line is: what does
a particular text say to you? What do you do with the words or images
presented in front of you? What's the "story?"

Sorry to ramble on here. I'm interested in your reaction to all of this.
I also have my own interpretation of 2001 that doesn't involve extra
terrestrials. Hmmmm. I wonder what that would be?


TRUTH is a person: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ