2001 A Space Odyssey Analyzed Sequence

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The analysed sequence is from 2001 A Space Odyssey (USA 1968; Stanley Kubrick).

The computer HAL is malfunctioning and tries to get rid of the crewmembers. The only survivor is Dave Bowmen, who decides to disconnect HAL, and heads toward the Logic Memory Centre Room.

Middle Shot: The camera is above Dave as he begins to remove HAL’s memory blocks. The room is extremely narrow and it is lighted by an aggressive red light, the preponderant colours are black and red. The mise-en.scene guides the audience’s response to an oppressed, stressed and extremely dangerous situation. The red lighting of the room also has another function; throughout the film HAL is represented by this red eye, this red room symbolises that Dave is now inside HAL.

The repeated patterns of the wired netting combined with the imposing geometrical design of the Logic Memory Centre Room amplify the digital nature of HAL. The wired motif reminds us of a jail cell, emphasising the pressure on both the character and the spectators. The sound track used in the sequence is minimal; we only hear the oxygen running in Dave’s Helmet and his respiration, thus adding to the anxious atmosphere.Dave seems trapped in a cage, a deadly one. He starts to remove the crystals that are HAL's memory blocks, they are clear crystals that glow a brilliant white, which reminds the audience of the cold logic of HAL's (crystal clear) mind.

Close middle shot of Dave’s profile: the front of the frame is occupied by HAL’s eye, which is represented by a clever combination of two symbolic geometric shapes, the rectangle and the circle (the running geometrical forms which run throughout the entire movie), organic and inorganic, built artefact and biological intelligence; two bin...

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...to hear a song his “father” taught him.

‘Yes, I’d like to hear it HAL’ says Dave, with a very confused and almost sad voice, as if he were holding the hand of a dying man. It starts singing a childish song called Daisy. For the audience, Dave does not disconnect a computer, rather, he is killing an “innocent child.”

The camera jumps into the eye of HAL, we now have a frontal medium close up of Dave, the red tone applied by the eye filter combined with the heavy shadows, makes Dave look evil, from HAL’s point of view, and furthermore, for the audience. It keeps on singing, soon its voice resembles a plaintive deaths rattle, he dies. This particular framing crystallises the emotion of the scene; we are now shown that, throughout the whole sequence, HAL could not see what Dave was doing. He really “felt it.” The futuristic Ulysses has finally defeated the Cyclops.

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