Go to Table of Contents of the analysis of Stanley Kubrick's movie "2001" (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).
The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this destruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates these elements that destroy the overt and naturalistic story line. The surface story lines are the principle ones, and this is maintained and supported by the intentional obfuscation of the deconstructive elements which keep them sub rosa. At the same time, these deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and once we bypass the disorientation and his purposeful refocusing they become a puzzle, annihilating the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept that most people stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors when they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as instead ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form.
Okay, now we are here at Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite, a great and silent gap existing between Heywood's recorded revelation of the real purpose for the trip to Jupiter and Discovery One's arrival at Jupiter where it finds a massive monolith. What does the silent gap mean? We don't know. What happened during that time? Was Dave in touch with Mission Control? Was the ship controlled by HAL's twin on earth or did Dave alone pilot the Discovery One? How did he psychologically survive on this long journey without Poole and the hibernators? None of these questions are addressed. Instead, Kubrick jumps the audience from the traumatic happenings in the last section, and the haunting disconnection of HAL, to the Jupiter and the Beyond the Infinite encounter because, obviously, the story is not so much about Dave as it is about the audience. The audience doesn't need to know how Dave feels about his predicament and his reaction to it. Indeed, this last section is wordless, just as was the Dawn of Man section. The plot is certainly more than a mere shell, and features themes, ideas, imagery that Kubrick carries from film to film, but the most important character in the film is the eye of the audience member and how they consciously and unconsciously respond to the material presented.
With most story telling the viewer is distanced and participates in the story in a removed fashion by relating to the characters. Emotions may be felt for the characters, and, indeed, sometimes these stories and characters can be involving enough that an individual takes the place of the characters, they may be triggered into a highly empathetic participation mystique, but there is still theoretically the safety of the story being about "other" and their experience. A problem with theater, film, novels is surpassing this and safely involving the viewer in a more immediate experience wherein boundaries aren't violated. With 2001 the "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" sequence attempts to do this, and the film has been building up to this, in particular in its use of (I think) how it uses audio, and visually conflicting information of which the conscious mind will be unaware, something which Kubrick attempts not only in 2001. Surrealism seeks the same effect, but with surrealism the viewer can be distanced by the gate-keeper of the intellect seeking to tease out meaning in seemingly discordant, unrelated material. This, too, distances and removes from an immediate experience. Kubrick takes a middle path. The viewer has a base story of the monolith which effects revelatory experience, and the viewer has the character of Dave with whom they've become somewhat involved, emotionally bound to him as the main character though he has been very restrained in his responses, nearly as enigmatic as HAL. With "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" the viewer is thrust into the experience with brief shots of Dave serving to inform of the violence of the experience he is undergoing. Shot 521 of Dave establishes the intellectual and psychological earthquake for him as he enters the star gate, but thereafter the perspective is ours alone, except for a few brief stills of Dave. And then Kubrick dispenses completely with Dave's face and hones in on the eye immediately preceding the transition to iris-like galactic effects.
The viewer may be puzzled, the viewer may be mystified, but the experience has moved, in a large part, to being that of the viewer without Dave as intermediary. We know this is so when, with shot 542, we see the pod and its tail blazing through the scene and the viewer is thrust back out of the experience, separated from it with the witness of the pod. This is then immediately followed by the eye-like gaze of stars emerging through cosmic clouds, staring back at the viewer, then Bowman's eye again. The galactic gaze answered by Bowman's serves as a transition to the next phase of the journey.
The eye is our eye, is Dave's eye, and requires some reflection on its connection to and what it has to say about the eye of HAL.
512 JUPITER AND BEYOND THE INFINITE against the starry sky. (1:57:00)
Jupiter rises into view. At about 1:57:18 the monolith begins floating in at top left screen but is barely discernible against the dark, and our attention is attracted to the brightness of Jupiter. At about 1:57:26 the monolith becomes apparent in the sky as a bit of light glows its surface. At 1:57:31, having reached about mid screen, the monolith has turned slightly so it is dark again, no longer illumined, then its other side turns toward us, illumined. As it revolves it turns dark again and floats off screen right.
The camera continues panning down and the Discovery One comes into view at the bottom of the screen.
513 Cut to a closer shot of the monlith, it alone in the sky now. (1:58:01)
It continues to revolve, turning dark now, as Jupiter comes into view upper left screens, and upper right screen a dark blue seeming planetary sphere appears in the dusk. The monolith falls out of view as the pan continues up.
514 Cut to the monolith center screen, its broad surface lit, the dark sphere we'd just seeon on the right now upper left and bright. (1:58:36)
The monolith revolves away from us, darkening again against the sky. The pan continues up bringing Jupiter and its moons into view. As the camera continues panning up we see the glint of the monolith at the bottom of the screen.
515 Cut to the dusky blue slim edge of the monolith against the sky next a flare of light blazing up into the lower frame like a candle flame. (1:59:02)
Panning down, the sun comes into view and then again Jupiter, as a crescent, horns turned down from the sun, 3 small moons apparent. The monolith now floats toward us, larger on the screen, briefly less elusive before floating up above us and disappearing from view.
The camera continuing its pan down, we see Discovery One against dark Jupiter.
516 The monolith fills the screen. (1:59:29)
Slowly, again, it revolves away from us, its broad surface lit.
517 Back to the orientation of 515 with a dark crescented Jupiter sliding in from left screen. (1:59:45)
The sun is beyond. We see four moons, two to this side of the sun and two to the left. The camera continuing its pan left, we see the Discover One, facing us 3/4 view. The flight deck is dark. Its center pod bay opens.
The monolith again floats up into dim view from the bottom of the screen, a little light catching its surface as it revolves slightly toward us. It darkens again floating out of the top of the screen, the screen filled only with the black of the sky.
We have shifting color temperatures between these shots, some more red-hued, some more blue-hued, so that exactly what we are seeing is indefinite, though we understand the striped planet is supposed to be Jupiter. The large orb to the right of the screen in shot 513 reminds of how the Discovery One enters the screen in section three, but the orientation is reversed from shot 223 below.
In shot 514 we appear to have the same celestial orb but this time it is on screeen left and bright rather than dark.
Then in shot 515 Jupiter is now suddenly a crescent and we must adjust orientation again due to difference in size and shadow.
When, in shot 517, the pod bay door opens it is a duplication of shot 300 below, which is a duplication of shot 224.
In shot 300 we had been able to plainly see Dave's red helmet in the pod bay, though Dave was in the pod and wearing his red helmet. This has to have been deliberate, as in shot 517 the brightness around and behind the emerging pod has been enhanced and we are unable to see any details in the pod bay behind. What we do see is a darkened flight deck.
518 A bright portion of Jupiter fills the whole bottom screen. 5 heavenly bodies form a straight line above it, centrally, toward the top of the screen. (2:00:49)
519 The little pod, alone in the sky, comes toward us. (2:00:57)
This is shot 399 in which Dave pursued Poole from the right of Discovery One. Also shot 405. Only instead of the body of Poole, the pod is pursuing the monolith.
520 Return to shot 518. Below the upper two heavenly bodies, the monlith suddenly appears, light catching its surface as it revolves away from us.(2:01:26)
Now you see it, now you don't, and yet it is still there, which is the nature of the monolith and its relationship to the film. Just because one doesn't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there.
The camera pans up. In the distance, several lights appear in the sky, the first a red one, then others which seem to zoom past us to either side at incredible speed. As we enter into their midst the lights form two planes that are oriented vertically to us meeting at center screen.
521 Extreme CU of Dave Bowman's face filling the screen, the lights of his control panels in the pod reflecting off his helmet's glass. 2:02:05
He opens his eyes in seeming increasing astonishment as his head begins to shake rapidly. He closes his eyes in a squint. We hear a low rumble accompanying.
522 Return to the two vertical planes of lights. (2:02:32)
About 2:02:45 we enter a phase where the bars of red lights remind of the computer brain room.
This ends about 2:02:52 with a prevalence of yellow overtaking the screen and white radiances.
523 A still of Bowman screaming. (2:02:55)
If we compare this shot with 521 we see the addition of two bright yellow-orange lights reflected on Dave's face. These do not belong to the control panel, are only evident in these stills in this section, and will be gone by shot 565. This perhaps reminds of the problems with the reflections in HAL's eye. I have already previously noted concerning shots 365 and 297, which show very much the same kind of reflections off the controls, that the middle two screens between the left and right panels have been eliminated. These two bright lights wouldn't be those screens, which would be in the middle. As these lights are unchanging, and we don't have on Dave any reflection of the "exterior" radiances, the possibility is set up that they are an interior vision, just as the peculiar convergences over the monoliths earlier were symbolic and celestially impossible.
In this shot of Dave, we can see either mimicry or the origin of the anthropomorphization of the pod.
524 Return to the two vertical planes of light, now green tendrils. (2:02:55)
These are replaced with a preponderance of pinks and violets then flow into other colors.
525 A still of Dave, like 523, only he is staring out his visor in terror. (2:03:18)
526 Return to the 2 vertical planes of light. (2:03:18)
At 02:03:39 we have a repeat on the left of 02:02:37
527 Another CU of Bowman, terrified, head turned from the scene in his suit but his eyes looking out. (2:03:41)
528 Return to the lights. They have shifted and are now aligned to us horizontally. (2:03:43)
The strong show of reds reminds of HAL's logic center.
529 CU of Bowman. (2:03:48)
530 Horizontal planes of lights. (2:03:49)
This array goes into a spiral and ends in a blinding white.
531 Bowman's eye in blue and yellow. (2:04:11)
532 An exploding galaxy. (2:04:19)
533 Spiraling arms of a galaxy. (2:04:38)
534 White star. (2:04:54)
The eye as galaxies.
535 An exploding yellow-orange and red blob. (2:05:01)
The preceding shots, in response to the first close-up of the eye, are all reminiscent of eyes, and are now followed by this yellow-orange and red figure which recalls HAL's eye.
536 Celestial lights. (2:05:18)
537 Blue exploding out of a yellow body. (2:05:28)
538 A celestial arch. (2:05:35)
539 Greenish celestial lights. (2:05:52)
540 Red blob mixed with pink. (2:06:05)
A seeming resemblance of an umbilical cord grows from it.
541 A reddish swarm of lights and gas. (2:06:32)
542 The pod plunging through the stargate like a blazing spermatazoa. (2:06:44)
543 Another exploding gas cloud. (2:06:58)
A cosmic gaze appears in shot 543, which will be answered by Bowman's eye in shot 544.
544 Bowman's eye in pink and cyan. (2:07:12)
This time, the colors in Dave's eye will correspond with the colors viewed in the next vision that follows, that of the octahedrons.
545 5 seeming octahedron shapes that undergo a series of metamorphoses as they are revealed to be 7. (2:07:20)
The "exclamation mark" may or may not have a relationship to the unexplained slash of light observed in the window of the pod discussed in section four, my focus being on its appearance when the pod revolves toward Poole when he goes EVA, also observed when Dave goes EVA. If one looks carefully one can see the slash of light in the pod's window when it leaves the Discovery One in shot 517.
The octahedrons have reminded me of the reflections of light in the camera lens which we have in shot 369 and 308 (coincident also with the horizontal slash of white light on the pod's window) and when the Aries landed on the moon.
546 Bowman's eye. (2:07:37)
547 Horizontal planes. (2:07:40)
A vertically flipped shot from 546, with colors changed, the octahedrons absent or now warped beyond recognition in the purple forms against the black.
548 Bowman's eye. (2:08:03)
549 Begin the earth series of shots. (2:08:10)
550 2nd of the earth series. (2:08:38)
551 3rd of the earth series. (2:08:44)
552 4th of the earth series. (2:08:53)
553 5th of the earth series. (2:09:20)
554 6th of the earth series. (2:09:32)
555 7th of the earth series. (2:09:48)
The boiling waves of an ocean
556 8th of the earth series. (2:09:57)
557 9th of the earth series. (2:10:04)
558 10th of the earth series. (2:10:12)
559 11th of the earth series. (2:10:21)
560 12th of the earth series. (2:10:30)
561 13th of the earth series. (2:10:37)
The valley and distant mountain are replaced with a seeming exploding land mass in the same hues which become mountains.
562 14th of the earth series. (2:10:50)
The geological series of shots were taken in the Hebrides and Monument Valley. I'm going to go out on a big limb here and suggest that Monument Valley was chosen not just for its beauty but the monolithic nature of some of its formations. There may also be a clue in the etymology:
late 13c., "a sepulchre," from Old French monument "grave, tomb, monument," and directly from Latin monumentum "a monument, memorial structure, statue; votive offering; tomb; memorial record," literally "something that reminds," from monere "to remind, warn" (see monitor (n.)). Sense of "structure or edifice to commemorate a notable person, action, or event" first attested c.1600.
We have, after all returned to the music of Lygeti's Requiem Mass in this section.
The grand formations of Monument Valley are natural, of course, and take us back to the beginning of the film and the landscape in which the monolith made its initial appearance--a startling appearance due its form being unnatural, the explicit result of intelligence. And by "take us back to the beginning of the film" I mean to nature's landscape unsculpted by human intelleigence.
As to the why of the Hebrides? I was thinking why the Monument Valley and the Hebrides and wondered if it has to do with the Hebrides being the home of the standing stones of Callanish, also of intelligent design.
Filming was done around Loch Airigh on the island that is commonly known as Lewis and Harris, Lewis being the northern portion and Harris being the southern. The large rocks at Loch Airigh, exposed by melting glaciers, are anorthosite, said to be similar in composition to those on the moon. On the map below, it's somewhere around road A859 near Losgaintir. The connection with the lunar anorthosite is interesting, but as I said I wonder if there may be also a connection with the Callanish rocks and other now isolated standing stones on the A859 road, such as Clach Mhic Leoid at Horgabost and the Borvemor stone.
That Kubrick takes us to Monument Valley and its natural monoliths suggests, to me, this is why he chose the Hebrides, for their unnatural monuments...and the "moon" rock.
Some have believed that these geological shots are intended to represent literally the world to which Bowman travels, when it is instead our world and we should grasp this is our world and that the changes have to do with perception. This doesn't mean that Bowman is literally flying over the earth, just that these shots help define to some extent what is going on with Bowman, and perhaps even with the viewer.
563 Bowman's eye in red and blue. (2:11:06)
Then rust and green at 2:11:11. Pink and black at 2:11:15. Yellow and purple at 2:11:15. Red and cyan at 2:11:16. Blue and yellow at 2:11:17. More normal at 2:11:20.
The kaleidoscope of colors, especially as they finish with the eye, should perhaps be considered as corresponding to the invitation to the end of the rainbow in Eyes Wide Shut, Iris being the goddess of the rainbow in Greek myth and the messenger of the gods. The etymology of "iris" is below from the Online Etymology Dictionary.
late 14c., flowering plant (Iris germanica), also "prismatic rock crystal," from Latin iris (plural irides) "iris of the eye, iris plant, rainbow," from Greek iris (genitive iridos) "a rainbow; the lily; iris of the eye," originally "messenger of the gods," personified as the rainbow. The eye region was so called (early 15c. in English) for being the colored part; the Greek word was used of any brightly colored circle, "as that round the eyes of a peacock's tail" [Liddell and Scott].
The end of the rainbow is not a literal place but a kind of experience and way of seeing. For instance, I've written as to how "Somerton", to which Bill traveled in "Eyes Wide Shut", is not "there". After we see the mortuary, the foliage entirely changes and we are, in effect, taken to the realm of the superworld/underworld.
564 The bedroom. (2:11:27)
The tones of the bedroom are much like those seen when Bowman was in his pod preparing to go out and retrieve Poole.
Again, when Bowman was angling his pod to the ship, preparing to blast into it, we once again had these tones.
565 CU of Bowman. (2:11:37)
566 Side view of the pod in the bedroom. (2:11:48)
The first thing to note here is that we have pulled in the ceiling of Space Station 5, where we had the hotels, and we are intended to see this as a hotel of sorts. Even the colors of the upholstery and bedspread and walls backing the statues, which change temperature to sometimes being taupe and sometimes being green, are much like those viewed in the window casements of the Space Station.
The movie has played over and over again with inversions, flips, reversals of left and right, and now we have the ceiling of Space Station which has become here the floor. We can see an infinity effect in the ceiling of the space station, also that of a chess board. We will revisit the chess board in a little bit.
The ceiling becoming the floor was expressed with the flight attendant on the Aries.
When she began her turn the lights were in the ceiling. After 180 degrees the area with the lights was now her "floor".
567 3/4 rear view of the pod in the bedroom. (2:11:58)
568 side view of the pod in the bedroom. (2:12:06)
569 CU of Bowman. (2:12:17)
570 Bowman views himself out the pod window viewing himself. (2:12:23)
Our second view out the window of the pod and this time we see Bowman outside the pod. This should bring to mind the many shots of the red suit hanging in the pod bay. The majority of those shots occurred outside the pod. This one perhaps should remind of those views of the suit from within the pod, which occurred when Poole and Dave were speaking in private. In those shots in particular we had a sense of anthropomorphism of the suit, viewed beyond the watchful intelligence of HAL. Kubrick could have chosen to have instead behind HAL the blue suit which would have squashed the ambiguity that arises of the association of the red suit with HAL, but he did not.
Why the decidedly French feel to the room? I'm going to hazard there's a connection with Frank (meaning from France) Poole. Frank may have died but as a "twin" I think he's still present, for Kubrick. Just as in Day of the Fight it's stated that the twin boxers become almost as one. And in myth, the divine twin tends to elevate the earthier twin into the eternal. Saturn was the destination in the book, and I think this may be one reason why it's stressed at least a couple of times in the book how it was reassuring to Bowman that Frank would reach Saturn before he did.
571 Bowman looking back at the pod. (2:12:23)
We have the feeling of Bowman, in shock, looking back at the pod, but we really have no idea what he is looking at right now, what he is seeing.
The painting behind him is La Tendre Pastorale, by Francois Boucher, who decorated King Louis XV's Versaille living quarters. I discuss the painting in this post. I also discuss the significance of another painting in the room, which is observed in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much in what is supposed to be an embassy.
The more salient fact about that painting is that the staircase by which the painting was located has been given as at Park Lane House, when instead it was at Forbes House where an embassy ballroom scene was filmed. Park Lane House does provide a subtext connection for 2001 in that it was torn down and a Hilton raised in its place in 1963. I think it may be possible this is one of the reasons this painting was used by Kubrick, even though and perhaps because the real staircase was in an entirely different location.
In The Man Who Knew Too Much, Jo and her husband, Ben McKenna, are looking for their son who was stolen from them at the hotel La Mamounia, though the name means safe haven. He is being held by terrorists in a bid to keep Jo and Ben silent about what they know about a planned assassination of a prime minister. A spy, as he died, had slipped Ben the information about the impending assassination attempt, but no specific details, and had told him to tell the authorities to try Ambrose Chappell. Aware this had happened, the terrorists take the McKenna's son, inform them if they want to see him alive again they are to stay quiet, and flee to London.
Jo (Doris Day) sings Que Sera, Sera in the ballroom at the embassy where, at film's end, it's believed her son is being held hostage. Her hope is her son will hear her and respond to the song.
Doris Day didn't like the song as she considered it to be a child's song. She wanted to sing something different. But the song was used and Hitchcock may have wanted it included for textual reasons.
The song takes "Que sera, sera" from Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus.
The reward of sin is death. That's hard.
Si peccassse negamus, fallimur
Et nulla est in nobis veritas.
If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and there's no truth in us.
Why then belike we must sin,
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this, Che sera, sera,
What will be, shall be? Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians
And necromantic books are heavenly;
Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters;
Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.
Sin brings death. Ambrosia, the food or drink of the gods, cleansed one of defilement, bringing immortality. In The Man Who Knew Too Much, Jo and her husband, Ben McKenna, have been given the name Ambrose (Ambrosia) Chappell. In London, trying to find their son, avoiding the authorities, Ben seeks out a person with the name Ambrose Chappell, which takes him to a taxidermist. Jo, in the meanwhile, realizes Ambrosia Chappell is a place, not a name.
A taxidermist? How odd that there would be a scene at a taxidermist's? But I would imagine that Hitchcock had action taking place at the taxidermist because of The Odyssey and a scene in it concerning the use of ambrosia. When Menelaus and his men were stranded on an island lorded over by the shape-shifter Proteus, they were advised to capture him and learn from him how they might leave. In order to do this they were counseled to disguise themselves in untanned seal skins, then leap upon Proteus when he came amongst them. If they managed to hold him fast, despite his changing shapes, he must answer them. The untanned skins were so foul that it was said they were saved when the goddess sent the aroma of ambrosia for them to breathe while cloaked in them.
Hitchcock even has a confusion of identities at the taxidermist, when there is uncertainty at the meeting and Ambrose tells Ben, "I think I understand your problem. It happens all the time. You expected someone else." And he calls his son, Ambrose, to speak with Ben. The taxidermist protests they know nothing about Ben's situation, and Ben flees when they call the police. Over at Ambrose Chapel, run by the terrorists, there is yet another protean allusion when we have a scene in which the assassin uses the proverb, "A wolf in sheep's clothing." In the chapel proper, the congregation is singing, "Let sin, no more, my soul enslave, break now the tyrant's chain." When Jo and Ben arrive, the parishioners are told that life's adversities work to make better men and women of us, and are promptly sent home to consider this. After the parishioners leave, Jo having left to call the police, Ben is told that he's just in time to help with Hank's food. A fight ensues and the terrorists escape with Hank.
Faustus laments that all humans sin, and the wages of sin are inevitably death. What is the doctrine of this? Que sera, sera. Which here is a cynical, pessimistic sentiment of inescapable fate. For which reason he now turns to magic. He is willing to turn over his soul to Hell in exchange for 24 years of magical practice with Mephistopheles as his servant. His fate is death anyway, so why not. A subject of debate about the play is whether it supported or challenged the Calvinist doctrine of absolute predestination which was then on the rise in England.
Hitchcock, it seems to me, was mindful of all this and was using it in The Man Who Knew Too Much. What sets off the chain of events is Hank accidentally pulling a veil from a woman's face in Morocco. In mythological terms, this is to commit the misdeed of seeing the virtues of the goddess. The secrets of the universe, as it were. Hank taken from his parents, they seek him at a place with a name to do with eternal life, where a song is sung about breaking the tyrant's chain of sin, and individuals are told to learn from adversity. Jo's challenge is to stop the assassination attempt, which she does. Hank has been moved to the embassy, a place that can't be searched because of diplomatic immunity, and he will certainly be killed. Jo sings "Que Sera, Sera" in an impromptu concert there, for the Prime Minister she had saved, hoping Hank will hear her and respond. He does and thus she and Ben get him back. Though the song has come to be thought of as upbeat and whimsical, in the movie, Jo disturbs everyone by singing it plaintively--and loudly. People seem to be expecting a less soulful rendition, and glance questioningly at one another. But Jo is of course singing so that her son might hear her, and is secretly distraught.
Fate? Free will? If Jo and Ben had only done as the terrorists ordered they would never have seen their son again. In pursuing their son, do they challenge "fate" continually and free will wins out? Or is it fated that their son be returned to them?
Fate or free will. Kubrick deals with this wrestling match in all his films and seems to have perhaps tucked in another reference to it with this tie to The Man Who Knew Too Much.
572 CU of an older Bowman. (2:12:35)
We had a hint of the older Bowman already when he was on his EVA as the sun or the reflected light from the communications dish cast a harsh glare on his face, whitening his hair and brow and desaturating the color in his skin. It was with this shot that he punched a button on the sleeve of his suit and a black sun screen obscured his face.
We have a number of things going on with shot 572.
We have turquoise in the background on the right. There is no turquoise in the room. This turquoise should not be there, is not present in the room, and is not an accident, its use is purposeful.
Kubrick used this combination of turquoise and red in the titles of The Shining.
If you invert the color of the turquoise titles with their slightly darker shading, you get the same red and orange combination of the rug in the hallway outside room 237.
In 2001 we already have this red and turquoise which Kubrick so carefully employees in the titles of The Shining and the spectacular rug.
That rug is about to find expression in this room, so this is important.
As far as where in the film previous we have this color combination, we can see it in Dave's helmet in 565 and 569. Notably, perhaps, we can see it also when Dave cuts off communication in the pod when Kubrick gives Dave's blue sleeve a red tone.
We also have a version of it a couple of times when Dave is in the red logic room. None of these stand out so cleanly and crisply as pointedly as the color match with the inversion of the opening credits in The Shining, but there's no doubt that this combination is specific and intentional in this room in which we find nothing of this aquamarine/turquoise. It's not in the colors of the bedroom or the blue-grays of the bathroom.
I had earlier, in section four, written of how the lights in the pod bay came closest to being like those reflected in HAL's eye (but, remember, we never see those lights reflected in any eye but the CU).
If we superimpose HAL's eye, with the obstruction, over the pod bay we get this.
There is something else. let's take a look at what happens to image 571 if we flip it. A reason I think to flip it is because this illuminated floor was the ceiling on the space station.
None of what we are seeing in the visor looks very much like what one might expect to see reflected. And Kubrick, with his close-up, has ensured we're going to get a decent look at the visor and what is reflected in it. We see the floor but what else? It's a confusing image in which there almost seem to be two peculiar human-like profiles, though they are bizarre and could be anything. Still, with anthropomorphization, as we have done with the pods and other things (and I think it's intetionally set-up to anthropmorphize them) these rather do look like human profiles, however odd. They remind me just a little of the staging in the space station during the dialogue between Heywood and the Russians.
If someone does not immediately associate this illuminated floor with the style of illuminated ceiling at Space Station 5, this reflection, when flipped vertically, should remind them of it. This is a very specific visual reference to that scene in order to link the two.
We should perhaps take it into consideration that the chairs for this scene with the Russians, designed by Olivier Mourgue, were called Djinn chairs. First, we have been, earlier, listening to a Requiem Mass, and even with Olivier's last name, Mourgue, we have a suggestion of death. As for the chairs themselves, Mourgue's site states, "Olivier Mourgue named the chairs 'Djinn" which In Muslim legend, a spirit often capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over people." Wikipedia instead simply states that the chairs are named for the Djinn, a spirit capable of changing shape. It needs to be considered that Heywood exits to find the group of Russians sitting on the Djinn chairs, waiting for him, and that now we have Dave in this semblance of a hotel room that is based in part on the Space Station. I'm not suggesting the Russians aren't real, that they're instead djinns, but elements from the Space Station have certainly transformed and been worked into the infinity hotel room.
As I have pointed out in section two, this scene is referred to in Eyes Wide Shut when Bill visits the hotel looking for the piano player.
Returning to Bowman's helmet, I'm going to overlay on it, and the pod bay area, in three stages, the version of Hal's eye that is occluded.
Not much more than shadows.
The center obelisk figure, along with the bulbous figure hanging down beside it on screen left, fits into the occlusion in HAL's eye. I have played with the idea that the obstruction we view in HAL's eye could possibly be the monolith.
It is a confounding image. But it certainly seems we might read in the helmet the presence of the monolith, and the only thing in the movie like the pod-type thing next it would be the pod-shaped instrments hanging from the pod bay's ceiling before each of the large pods.
What this means is that the reflection in HAL's eye, throughout much of the film, is showing the monolith with the occlusion. But from what view? I've already noted we never see this reflection in any of HAL's eyes in anything other than CU, but the lights do seem to match up with the pod bay room, but only if we have HAL facing the room from the point of view of the central pod, yet we view this reflection as well when the central pod is not in the pod bay, and HAL's eye in the pods doesn't match that one in the close-ups showing the reflection.
Now, this can't be taken literally. But it does shift our focus to the pod room, where the tests on the AE 35 were run (in which I've pointed out we could see a version of the monolith as well as the maze), and the idea of the monolith being present throughout in HAL's dealings with the Dave and Poole in that HAL knew about the monolith. Just as the monolith was a silent factor in Smyslov's conversation with Heywood, unspoken but in the background, Heywood being aware of it, just as HAL too was aware of the monolith all along and so it was a factor in all that he did.
The problem is to wonder if the monolith was guiding any of HAL's actions. One has to recollect that the appearance of the monolith to the primates, whether symbolic or not, led to not only the use of tools but to intentional murder, Moonwatcher killing his veritable twin hominid. Hominid intelligence became advanced enough to attempt to escape destiny, to exert free will. With Dave, Poole, and HAL we again have had something down this line. One could argue that HAL, affected by the monolith, made a kind of evolutionary leap, so the computer experienced desire, want, ego, and the fear of ego dissolution in sleep or death. With the hominids, morality didn't function into the equation. Food was essential. Water was essential. To murder at the water hole was a matter of survival and exultation over having escaped the destiny of the powerless. Just as HAL had to survive and continue the mission for sake of, perhaps, a personal want rather than only a matter of programming.
The AE 35 is also directly concerned with a kind of water hole, the crater or grail of the communications antennae).
Heywood describes the monolith as having been absolutely inert since its radio signal to Jupiter. What we are seeing is it hasn't been. But the "how" of its not being inert is another question. The monolith does represent, fundamentally, a different manner of perception, expressed in the collision of the hominids and man (and HAL) with the mysterious, that which is beyond explanation.
The absolute root point of the monolith is that our definition of a self-questioning, awake and aware consciousness begins when we tap the well of mystery and recognize the inexplicable. When we pursue mystery, hoping for knowledge and a broader understanding of the nature of existence and ourselves.
I'm now going to get into some possible word play centered around the idea of frank (freedom) and baroque, the period belonging to King Louis the XIV and one that appears several times in Kubrick's films.
In an interview, Kubrick had to say of all this:
You begin with an artifact left on earth four million years ago by extraterrestrial explorers who observed the behavior of the man-apes of the time and decided to influence their evolutionary progression. Then you have a second artifact buried deep on the lunar surface and programmed to signal word of man's first baby steps into the universe -- a kind of cosmic burglar alarm. And finally there's a third artifact placed in orbit around Jupiter and waiting for the time when man has reached the outer rim of his own solar system.
When the surviving astronaut, Bowman, ultimately reaches Jupiter, this artifact sweeps him into a force field or star gate that hurls him on a journey through inner and outer space and finally transports him to another part of the galaxy, where he's placed in a human zoo approximating a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. In a timeless state, his life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being, a star child, an angel, a superman, if you like, and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward of man's evolutionary destiny.
That is what happens on the film's simplest level. Since an encounter with an advanced interstellar intelligence would be incomprehensible within our present earthbound frames of reference, reactions to it will have elements of philosophy and metaphysics that have nothing to do with the bare plot outline itself.
If Bowman was living in a hospital-zoo like environment drawn from his dreams and imagination, we would instead be likely looking at middle America 1940s thru 1960s, not a take-off on French Baroque with Baroque garden paintings. Instead, Kubrick is treating the film itself, its images and words, as the dream and imagination from which this room is composed.
Destiny versus free will. Franc/French suggests free will through the etymological link with freedom, and yet Dave (and we) are in a place with no doors to the "outside", only paintings of gardens to serve as windows. Dave is in a prison of sorts, not a hospital. Yet it is a prison out of which he is reborn, evolved as a greater intelligence.
One should return to Plato's Republic, from which I will now quote not much more than I think is necessary:
Socrates - GLAUCON And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it' the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
True, he now
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would.
And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
To be sure, he said.
And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
No question, he said.
This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.
Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.
Yes, very natural.
And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?
Anything but surprising, he replied.
Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.
That, he said, is a very just distinction.
But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.
They undoubtedly say this, he replied.
Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.
Kubrick's use of Ligeti's "Aventures" in this section, I count very much as being an expression of the experience of these shadows.
573 Side view of Bowman. (2:12:35)
One would expect Bowman to be old in this shot, with white hair, but he is not, he has dark hair and dark eyebrows. In fact, I'm not positive that this isn't Poole on a symbolic level.
Poole, I do believe, is very much present here, and have considered this even before reading Arthur Clarke's book 2001 in which Bowman takes solace in the idea that Poole, however dead, sailing through the cosmos, would be the first to reach Saturn (Jupiter in the film). Poole is important to the twinship aspect, the doubling. In ancient myth, one twin representing the physical/mortal and the other the spiritual/immortal aspect, when the mortal one died, the immortal one either was able to gain the gift of immortality for that sibling, or would place place their image in the stars by which to be eternally remembered, which amounts to the same thing. An equivalent was the story of Eros and Psyche, who lost Eros through looking at him without the veil of darkness, whose tribulations took her to the underworld in order to gain him back, and by this love gained also the gift of immortality.
574 Medium shot from front of Bowman from inside the bathroom. (2:13:14)
Though we were just shown a younger Bowman walking toward where the pod had been situated, away from a stance beside the bathroom, Kubrick cuts to Bowman walking not toward the pod but toward the bathroom. That's sure to mess up your orientation! We essentially have Bowman's direction suddenly reversed from what it was--well, not even essentially but literally. These reversals in orientation should take us back to the chess game and the moment when HAL describes his move from Frank Poole's POV, the "opposite" POV.
We see in the background already the clothes in which Bowman will be attired in several shots as he sits and eats.
575 Pan of the bathroom. (2:13:34)
My belief is the several hand towels are intended to recall the communications dishes and that we see in the bathtub an expression of the hibernation and sleep pods on the Discovery One.
576 MCU of Bowman entering the bathroom. (2:13:37)
577 Medium shot of Bowman looking in the mirror. (2:13:40)
This shot brings to mind the bathroom scene in The Shining wherein Jack embraces a young woman then, looking into the mirror behind her, realizes he is embracing the decaying corpse of an old woman.
In The Shining the old woman rises out of the waters of the bathtub. The bathtub also suggests the coffin, the bathroom becoming a crypt in which mortality is confronted also in the mirror. Dave expresses some seeming astonishment over his aging observed in the mirror above the tub.
The hibernating pods on the Discovery One had become coffins.
578 CU of Bowman looking in the mirror then to the side. (2:13:52)
579 View of the bedroom through the door. (2:14:14)
580 MCU of Bowman stepping to the bathroom door. (2:14:17)
581 View through the bathroom door of the bedroom. (2:14:20)
I think the double wheel table is intended to be reminiscent of the Space Station. We even have here color tones reminding of the Space Station and earth.
Observed in the garden painting above the man at the table is a figure in red beside a tree, which would be representative of Dave.
582 MCU of Bowman watching himself. (2:14:55)
583 View through the bathroom door of the older self standing. (2:14:59)
The older self steps into the bathroom to see what was there, what he had felt watching him or what he had felt he had heard. There is nothing.
584 Older self in the robe entering the bedroom again. (2:16:10)
This is the chess board, a return to the game HAL was playing with Frank Poole. 8x8 squares. The table with its two wheels sits in the same place that Frank's rook was before he moved it. The F1 position. Rook means chariot. We can see a "chariot" of sorts in the table with its wheels.
585 The older self in the robe sits and begins eating again. (2:16:41)
Kubrick does the same thing with the table here as he does with Danny on the "chess board" of the carpet in The Shining. In The Shining Kubrick shows just enough of the wall to the right to reveal that Danny is not in a reversed position on the carpet, as we think him to be, instead he has moved one position to our left. Kubrick does the exact same thing with Bowman. He shows just enough to reveal that in this shot Bowman is not at F1 but the E1 position. And yet we know from HAL's game with Frank, and Danny's appearance of being on a reserved carpet, that we have both here, the reversal (the moment at which HAL adopts Frank's opposing POV) as well as the initial, personal POV, which is to have both of these point of views present and wedded in one. We are then to understand Dave as being at the F1 position as pertains to "black", as well as the F1 position as pertains to "white".
This scene is also hinted at in A Clockwork Orange when Alex dines with Alexander who, in his wheelchair, corresponds to the chariot rook.
586 The broken glass, still shaking on the floor then stilling. (2:17:14)
Bowman sips out of a glass, places it down, then accidentally knocks the glass to the floor where it breaks on E1. This is the moment at which Frank Poole moves his rook from F1 to E1 and HAL says, "I think you missed something." If we consider where E1 is for the one playing "black", it is where we initially saw Bowman, in his red atmospheric suit, staring back in bewilderment at the pod. It also seems to be where he stood staring at himself in shot 582. Thus it is also now that Dave looks up and sees himself on the bed.
587 Hearing breathing, he looks to the bed. (2:17:34)
588 The old man in the bed viewed from behind his shoulder. (2:17:39)
589 Side view of the old man in the bed raising his finger. (2:17:50)
590 The monolith. (2:18:22)
If we analyze this in respect to the chess board, we should be seeing an approximation of HAL's move of the Queen two spaces to what he identifies as Bishop 3 when it should be Bishop 6, but HAL is at that point apparently seeing from both a black and white POV and expresses his move from Frank's POV. The monolith occupies also the place of the knight beside the queen, the knight being able to move on the diagonal (that which can move around corners, as observed in Lolita). From the perspective of the bed, the monolith is only two squares over, though we see something different in other shots where it is instead 4 squares over from the bed. What is important here is the perspective had from the bed.
Here, I will leave off analysis, the images speaking well enough for themselves. I do have one last remark to make on the last image.
591 3/4 view of the bed and monolith. (2:18:30)
592 Medium shot of the monolith. (2:18:41)
593 Reborn. (2:18:47)
594 Side view CU of the reborn one. (2:18:56)
595 Zoom in on the monolith. (2:19:03)
596 The moon. (2:19:16)
Pan down from the moon to a corner of the earth in the right screen, and then the glow of the star child entering the left screen.
597 The star child. (2:19:59)
The music is once again "Thus Spake Zarathustra" which I think, more than anything else, refers to concepts concerning the eternal return, free will and destiny.
After the intermission, you will notice perhaps there are 237 shots in the film, the same number as the mysterious room in The Shining. That this has 237 shots is one reason I decided that what precedes the intermission should be 360 shots rather than 361, and that we are to ignore shot 105 having a brief, momentary break in it during which the bone reverses orientation in its spin. For my thoughts on the meaning of 237 one will have to look at the essay Remembrance and Repetition in Kubrick's The Shining.
That Kubrick structures the film so that we have 360 shots in the first part, and 237 in the second part, means we need to look upon not only each of the five sections of the film as standing alone, though interacting with the others, but we also have the first part up to the intermission separated from what follows after the intermission. I thnk I've pretty well covered this in my analysis, showing how what follows after the intermission repeats, time and again, events and shots from the first part. Kubrick relates the full compass of the circle, 360 degrees, to 237 and remembrance, anamnesis, by setting the film up in this manner. One may suppose that then in 237 we find this full compass, which suits the idea of deja vu, of the return, re-experience, re-enactment, but in Kubrick's expression of 237 is where also the possibility of evolution to a higher plateau may be conceived as transpiring, meaning either an escape from destiny or the very idea of destiny as versus free will becoming a moot point.
Fade out quickly at 2:20:21-2:20:22.
Kubrick said in an interview that Bowman ended up in something like an alien zoo where he was kept in a room formed of his memories and dreams. Though Kubrick said this was the simplest level of explanation, it is still not true. But it was a simple explanation and makes for a tidy narrative. This section has everything to do with the viewer, their eye as related to HAL's eye, to Bowman's perception. What do you think you are seeing? What are you really seeing? The zoo room is not forged from Bowman's past but largely constructed out of other elements in the film and re-enacts the chess game between HAL and Poole. Kubrick carried ideas from film to film and Room 237 was already here as the shots between intermission and end number 237. We even have a couple of shots of Bowman which directly tie in with Danny on the reversed carpet in The Shining. Since so many still ask, "What did it mean?", 2001 is a good place to start chucking out what you think you know about Kubrick's films, and viewing them with a fresh eye for the details. Which is the purpose of this analysis. But tl;dr isn't going to do the job.
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