Monday, 21 October 2013

Space Oddities : 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968 is (mostly) set in modern day and what possible space missions we could endeavor on.  The use of perspective and set design in this film is phenomenal, as described by EmpireOnline ‘it is a work of considerable genius’ (Braund, 2005) With space crew being able to walk up walls wearing their ‘non-gravity shoes’ and the intimidating, yet mystifying, extraterrestrial rectangular block.
Fig 1, Dr Dave Bowman

This film certainly has scientific conventions such as evolution of man (Darwins theory). We are shown this at the start of the film in The Dawn of Man sequence where ‘ape-men’ are living in a vast landscape trying to reclaim what they feel is theirs against another ‘ape-man- gang’. Here we are shown how the ‘ape-men’ are learning as one of them starts to beat a rival using a bone. Therefore, we are seeing these ape-men develop; ‘and thus discover their first tools’ (Ebert, 1997) but at the same time they’re getting more aggressive and territorial. A scare factor kicks in here as we are being told that these apes are our ancestors, and that our ancestors are brutally killing another ‘being’ with a weapon. However, on the other hand we see these mammals more as apes than man; this is due to the costume and verbal interactions. So when we see apes eating meat this conflicts the stereotypical view we have of the apes being so-called-herbivores.

Fig 2, Ape man

Another convention of sci-fi which is used a considerable amount in this film is the reliance humans have on their own technological advances. A computer (Hal 9000) which controls and monitors the ship and astronauts has human characteristics; we see this when the Hal 9000 feels as if it has been betrayed by the crew, in response to this the computer slowly starts to take revenge by killing off the astronauts one by one. However, as this occurs Hal 9000 blames ‘human error’ to the cause of the casualties.  When we see that our own creations start to work and plot against us instead of aiding it becomes rather fear-provoking , as mentioned by the BBC ‘This spiraling circle of deceit combined with the emptiness of space and some grand silences becomes quite terrifying’ (Haflidason, 2001).

Fig 3, Drifting in Space
 Though in this film Kubricks talents are well presented in all aspects he still has been able to give a lasting effect and questionable thoughts on his audiences. With the last scenes of the film showing Dr Dave Bowman (played by Keir Dullea) at different stages in his life it’s daunting to see how he ages and dies alone, however, as he is dying we see a baby in an orb, as if it is still in a floating womb. This could suggest reincarnation or that no matter how high our machines will rise against us, the human race will always continue on. 


Haflidason, A. (2001) (Accessed on 18.10.13)


Fig 1, Dr Dave Bowman, 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, Film Still, England, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Fig 2, Ape man, 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, Film Still, England, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Fig 3, Drifting in space, 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, Film Still, England, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, (Accessed on 18.10.13)


  1. Hi Rosalyn!
    Well reviewed; I particularly like your observations on Man's reliance on technology...
    Referencing within the text is spot-on :) You just need to check again what needs to be italicised and/or put in brackets in your bibliography and illustrations list. Oh, and there is some strange formatting going on in the bibliography!

  2. I see what you mean, I have no idea either :S It looked fine whilst it was in 'draft mode' will investigate what blogger is doing :)