2001: a space odyssey

To start the lesson, I am gonna have to ask you to watch whatever we miss in class, you may want to watch tonight if you’re likely to have any free time. You guys should probably know now that you’re likely gonna run out of time for studying for the exams cause life sucks so try to do as much as you can while you’re on break if you have no prior commitments and you’re motivated to not procrastinate.

I want everyone to take a photo of scenes they think are important or will help in explaining science fiction genre through 2001: a space odyssey. Then take a photo of the notes you write and post them on the media facebook page for everyone. This is because everyone may view the film a different way and this will help in explaining everything to everyone who’s both clueless or wants more notes to add to their collection.

For further assistance with the film, (it may help some) the library section about science fiction films certainly helped me get through the year a lot easier.


So here is a breakdown of the film 2001: a space odyssey


2001: a Space Odyssey  – Stanley Kubrick, 1968, UK, 141m.

Keir Rullen, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Before watching this film, and I sure some of you know the reputation of 2001, has the been known for its both “hypnotic and immensely boring” content. For the context of the film’s release, there had been a walk out of over 200 people at the premier but in relation to the time period (which you’ll have to write about in your exam), the space race was later that year to the film’s release so no man had seen what it was like in space yet. Moon watchers had become moon travelers.

It also needs to be established the main themes of the film being “about evolution and it’s about God (or some intelligence so far advanced from our own as it appears to be a God).”

“…monitors key stages on man’s journey from ape to starchild.”

The first 40 munites of the film follows without any dialogue (the first words are spoken in a meeting about 0:25.30). Although this is controversial in the audience’s eyes as being either intellectually stimulating or simply too artistic for the simple minded, it is because Kubrick was careful about his choice of dialogue. As constantly said during magazine production I’m sure, every word had to fight for its’s place. Kubrick is very picky about the

“If you understand 2001 completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered.” – Stanely Kubrick, director of 2001: a space odyssey

In the eyes of Kubrick, there is never a true explanation for everything in the film.

[start film at 00:03:24 till 00:04:51 (dawn of man starts)]

Iconic music soundtrack:

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 12.50.18 AM.png

It needs to be immediately acknowledged that 2001 has some of the most important iconographies in science fiction film history. This is almost immediate with the legacy of the soundtrack of the film. We’ve all heard it in Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995) as a kid and many other films. Kubrick had incorporated classical music into the epic sci-fi as a way of presenting a much more authentic, quintessential “good sci-fi movie”. The use of classical music has been a key convention to science fiction films and reflected the uprising of science fiction as a serious, speculative genre in the film industry.

“…his film defies genre convention and is unlike any science-fiction movie before it.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 1.25.57 AM.png

“The Dawn of Man” sequence was a reference to the food chain, hierarchy, and power. For anyone writing about theorists (needed in the exam), this could easily be linked to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis of ID (unconscious) primitive actions for themes but you need to focus on genre theorists like Roland Barthes to explain the way this film is an example of science fiction.

The main content to acknowledge of “the Dawn of Man” sequence are:

  • Apes vs Boar = predatory animals, human origins, Darwinian evolution theory
  • Bone = Weapon, power, Darwinian evolution theory, Freudian phallic image.
  • Monolith = evolution in species (appears 3 times throughout the film – ape, human and Starchild phase), ‘other’

Apes and their damn bones

[watch 06:17 till 07:46. Skip to 00:12:15 till 00:14:33. Skip to 16:00 till 17:35. Skip to 18:35 till 19:53]

Apes are acknowledged in theories of evolution as the origins of humans. In this film, they’re the predatory animals who are initially passive animals but eventually discover power (through the bone) and then become destructive. The screams to reflect humans interactions as social beings, which separates us from any other species of animals.

A sci-fi film which was released in the same year as 2001 was a planet of the apes and it is clear that there is a real difference between the quality. Look at the makeup artistry of apes from the initial 10 minutes of 2001 and the whole of Planet of the Apes.

Check out this article for info about costume evolution > A Brief History of Hollywood’s Quest for a Photo-Realistic Ape- http://www.zimbio.com/Beyond+the+Box+Office/articles/2pwu8sAaooI/Brief+History+Hollywood+Quest+Photo+Realistic

Obviously, the budgets for the different films was essential to the ability of design for the two but also the artistry and general durability of the costumes based on the difference in on-screen action and the content of the film but you get the gist.

The bones could be the equivalent to the ape’s phallic power and symbolize their dominance.

The bones are used by the apes to initially beat other bones which are followed by a medium shot a boar being beaten and eventually the collective apes eating the meat. This is very relevant to the Darwinian theories of the survival of the fittest and the general animal food chain. This is then followed by the apes attacking each other. This follows the themes of power, observations of human interactions and the evolution of intelligence.


Yes, that monolith was spoofed in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton, 2005). There is a specific noise associated with the monolith.

The monolith is the signification (Roland Barthes, Signs and signifiers) of an evolution in the species. It appears in front of the apes which then follows their use of bones as a weapon of destruction. the monolith will be further explained when needed throughout the film.

The monolith is the film’s version of ‘otherness’ in science fiction.

“proto-humans stumble upon the featureless and inexplicable Monolith”

“A monolith is a geological feature consisting of a single massive stone or rock, such as some mountains, or a single large piece of rock placed as, or within, a monument or building.” – Mr Wikipedia

Human sequence (actual space odyssey)

The transition between scenes with ‘insta-evolution’ is linked to the Einstein’s theory of relativity. You guys can google that one in your own time.

[pause at 29:06]

Everything in this film, though recognized in science fiction, was new technology in the real world so much of this realism may have come as a surprise to the audience members. The telecommunication of video, flat panel television and later tablets. You can see with this character that his eye line is focused on the screen and nothing to do with the space surrounding him.

[start at 29:36 til 29:47]

Do you guys want to watch this scene? The only real importance of this scene is that there are women and the idea of the space travel being common than with being able to go “up or down” anytime.

[skip to 00:41:36]

do you guys want to watch this meeting? Focuses on America’s link to space travel. Americans are glory seekers and this is their way of wanting credit at the meetings.

[pause at 47:37]

Rule of thirds in this section. The 3 astronauts in the center, carefully eating their packed sandwiches, spacy things in the background with no recognition from the astronauts and technology things on the right.

WARNING: ears will burst cause the sound is painful.

[skip to 50:21 till 54:40]

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 2.31.27 AM

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 9.48.49 AM

a recurring shot of the monolith and space.

There are massive changes, over the time of evolution, the

The humans do see the monolith however they do not touch it but merely, as man’s unsatisfiable curiosity (Freudian, civilization, and discontent), want to understand it.

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 9.49.55 AM.png

“Jupiter Mission – 18 months later”

“Jupiter Mission” sequence is probably the main content of the film which focuses on the aspect od societal technological development, and AI. This is closely connected to the themes of creation (not just the religious views of it), reliance on technology (technological determinism – humans are a product of their technology “Marshal Mcluhan “the message is the medium”) and artificiality (AI and human characterisation). These themes are all linked to technophobia For anyone writing about theorists (needed in exam).

The main content to acknowledge of “Jupiter Mission” sequence are:

  • David = mankind, form of Frankenstein to Hal (creator or monster), monotonous and emotionless,
  • Hal 9000 = creation, AI, monstrous technology, could now be connected to Siri, technophobia or technophillia, monster + big broconstantlytantly intrigued but also fear the AI
  • Other men on spaceship = Men are expendible, Maintenence men.

For this section, I want you guys to either take as many photos as possible of each scene or sketch them. This is a very important introduction to the characterisation of David, Pool and Hall 9000. Who is the most humane? This is a place you could easily compare to the end of the film and see the immediate difference. Note down any important dialogue or have a copy of the 2001 script found online, open the note any important dialogue.

A reading of the

[play through till 1:03:32]

That line at the end embodies the whole character of Hal 9000. Can Hal think for himself?

[pause on Hall at some point]

What does this visual all remind you off? and the sound? Siri, Terminator, Security light, warning,

I’m gonna stop there and see what everyone has to say about the film so far, or would you prefer to keep the film rolling?

Day 2


Do you want me to play the rest of the film and explain stuff like yesterday and, if there’s enough time at the end, explain what’s to be of the exam?

When are practice exams?


This section consists of:

  • Jupiter odyssey
    • human error vs computer error
      • [start 01:19:45 till  1:27:25]
    • lip reading
      • 01:23:06 till 01:27:32
    • “I’m floating”
      • 01:31:40 till 01:32:50
    • dave to save the day
      • 01:37:41 till 01:49:50
    • Disconnect Hal 9000
      • 01:51:28 till 01:57:08
  • Jupiter and beyond infinite
    • Rooms = twin theory
      • 02:11:25 till 02:18:13
    • monolith = starchild (IVF)
      • 02:18:13 till 2:20:30

Lip Reading

Lip Reading = David and Frank talk about Hal AI + trust (Technophobia)

  • “Rotate the pod please Hal.”
  • “I’ve got a bad feeling about him” – constantly refering to HAL with a male pronoun
  • “I sense something strange about him.”
  • “…wouldn’t have any choice but disconnection.”
  • close up of lips = Hal lip reading. Beyond human

I will post a photo of a 2001: a space odyssey timeline tonight which will sumarise the key sections of the film in chronological order of the film. For some, the insta evolution (time between apes and human, human and astronaut, & human and starchild) is confusing so this should help sum it up

Hal went Rogue = Dave to the rescue

1.31.40 til 32.50


Disconnect Hal

“I feel much better now”

“I can feel it” – repitition of words.

“My mind is going”

“I’m afraid”

“Good afternoon gentlemen”

“He taught me to sing a song”

Voice gets deeper.

Sings Daisy Bell song from 1892.


In 1962, IBM computer sings this song. Hal one letter over spells IBM. Link.

This clip above is about an hour but it definetly worth watch if you learn better by listening to interviews or generally find it interesting.

You guys have the opportunity and privilege to take this course and get an education. Please intend and work during the holidays to actively learn about science fiction films. Work your way through this film to learn about the mechanisms and conventions which make it a great example of a science fiction film. Rewatch the films and write the notes you need about each major component of the films to understand it. Prepare what you can to understand the films the best way you can. Watch the rest of 2001: a space odyssey during the holidays. Media is a very independent film and that’s because of the subjectivity of the research. Watch the Alien films (though you’ll only be studying the first) and Blade Runner. If you have enough time, go through the list of science fiction films I’m pretty sure has been provided and learn about the major components of science fiction. Remember the exam you’re preparing for is about the science fiction genre, not a film study like english.


For the nerds ahead of the game (you are my peeps), during the holidays you could start doing research about science fiction films over time, make up your own list of them, and whatever was happening in society at the time or watch Alien franchise and Blade Runner during the holidays. Here are the key moments in Alien (1979, Ridley Scott):



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