Skip to main content

'Space Odyssey 2001' What is it? What does it mean? Where did it come from? 16/10/2015

Fig 1 '2001 A Space Odyssey' Poster

This review will focus on the film '2001 A Space Odyssey 2001' the characters, symbolism, deeper meaning behind some of the soundtrack and many other topics. The film was made in 1968 by 'Stanley Kubrick' and was inspired by the earlier generations of films such as 'Metropolis'. This film really shows what would have probably inspired the star wars franchise and the star trek franchise. Its special effects were also top of the range in 1968 and were unmatched by any other film, this was the film that truly set the standards for Sci-Fi Special Effects, Designs, Technology's and even stories for Sci-Fi films to come.

Fig 2 Monkey uses Tools
The special effects in '2001 A Space Odyssey' were the best of its kind in 1968, they took inspiration from earlier generations, learnt from it and saw what they could do better. In 'Metropolis (1927)' some scenes included small props that would move to give the illusion of depth in the scene. In this film they take that technique and fully expanded upon the method. Making larger models they could capture more detail into each figure, then making smaller models with less detail and putting them next to these huge models, making the big models look even bigger. There  is also the beginning of the film which gives the illusion that it was filmed in the time when men were still apes. Putting actors in full body suits made to look like monkeys and then getting them to act like monkeys, possibly inspired by 'King Kong'. Another design choice that really immersed you in the experience were the sets. They were built from scratch and rigged with all sorts of electronics and mechanics, made so there could be illusions of realism. "The viewer is often made to feel that the screen is the window of a spacecraft, and as Kubrick introduces one piece of unfamiliar apparatus after another —a craft that looks, from one angle, like a plumber's helper with a fist on the end of it, a pod that resembles a limbed washing machine—the viewer is always made aware of exactly how it is used and where he is in it." (Alder. R, 1968).

Fig 3 Space Station
The soundtrack that went with the film also really scored the mood that Stanley Kubrick was going for, for example whenever the monolith is in show there is always some ungodly chanting that is both magnificent but also terrifying. When the apes are learning to use tools, there is a celebratory orchestra to represent a huge achievement, in this case Ape's learning."The music is associated in the film with the first entry of man's consciousness into the universe - -and with the eventual passage of that consciousness onto a new level, symbolized by the Star Child at the end of the film." (Edbert. R 1997) Then there is the scene where 'Dave' (Keir Dullea)  goes through a space portal, it is a mix of soft inspiring music and loud screeches meaning to represent the scale, awe and darkness to what Dave is going through.

Fig 4 Main Ship
Visually the scene to very hard to read/understand and is like as if you are on drugs which was probably what the scene was inspired by. It was the 1960s and the use of drugs and "Tripping" was quite common, "Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD helped make the sixties what it was.The people who were questioning the system needed to find a new light to look upon things. Their solution was to explore psychedelics. The most common was LSD, a chemical discovered in 1943 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. LSD let people look at things with the different angle their psychidelic trance allowed them." (, 1996-2002). Drugs were very common at this time period, then if you took drugs and then watched te ending of the film it was classed as the "Ultimate Trip".

Fig 5 'The Monolith'
The monolith in the film plays as large role in the symbolism in the film. It is a large block of an unknown substance, unknown origin that appears out of no where, it is both mysterious and intimidating. Something that bounds evolution is fear, it is put in place so we don't hurt ourselves of get ourselves killed. If however that fear can be overcame it can result in great things, for example man is scared of going into space because of what might happen, but they make great technological advancements, when the monkey uses the bone as a weapon it is fearful that it might not do anything. The soundtrack also supports this, an ungodly chanting that has awe, scale and fear, showing that when you have the courage to muster, great things can be achieved. However it is very odd that every single time the Monolith appears, there is a huge evolutionary advancement.

Fig 6 'HAL'
HAL is a supercomputer that can think for itself, in other words he is an AI (Artificial Intelligence). He claims to work at near flawless standard with no failures, in the end he kills all of the crew except Dave. HAL corrupts and makes a decision that he thinks will make a good decision, preserving himself so that the mission can be completed. However HAL's corruption is very interesting, notice how he is shape like the monolith, tall, black, sleek. But even though he is so advanced he still fails and there is not really a direct answer why? The reason being is that this is the way of monolith giving us a visual example that technology is not a stage of evolution but a step. Technology can only take us so far, therefore meaning technological advancement is not the final stage of evolution.

Illustration Bilbography

Fig 1 '2001 A Space Odyssey' Poster

Fig 2 Fig 2 Monkey uses Tools

Fig 3 Space Station

Fig 4 Main Ship

Fig 5 The Monolith

Fig 6 HAL


Renata Adler. (1968). 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) 
The Screen: '2001' Is Up, Up and Away:
Kubrick's Odyssey in Space Begins Run.
Last accessed 16/10/2015

Roger Ebert. (1997). 2001: A Space Odyssey. 
Last accessed 16/10/2015.

Unknown Author. (1996-2002). The role of drugs on the popular culture of the 1960s. 
Last accessed 16/10/2015


Post a Comment