Download Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey PDF

TitleStanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
File Size1.7 MB
Total Pages198
Table of Contents
1 2001: The Critical Reception and the Generation Gap
2 Auteur with a Capital A
3 The Gravity of 2001: A Space Odyssey
4 Kubrick in Space
5 Of Men and Monoliths: Science Fiction, Gender, and 2001: A Space Odyssey
6 The Cinematographic Brain in 2001: A Space Odyssey
7 Reading HAL: Representation and Artificial Intelligence
8 Kubrick’s Obscene Shadows
9 Double Minds and Double Binds in Stanley Kubrick’s Fairy Tale
Notes on Contributors
Production Details
Document Text Contents
Page 2

2001: A SPACE

Page 99


Initially, the perspective in this episode is that of the objective gaze of the
camera, off ering a perspective (alternating middle- and long-distance shots)
on the static and barren landscape and on the monotonous and threaten-
ing world of the apes whose existence is devoted to foraging, survival, and
defending their territory. Close-ups, especially of Moon-Watcher (the name
in the script for the alpha male played by Daniel Richter), precede the apes’
approach to the monolith. Aft er the arrival of the monolith, the camera work
and editing change, fi nally becoming expansive in relation to outer space. Th e
apes’ movement toward the monolith is accompanied by Ligeti’s otherworldly
music. Th e music increases in volume and in complexity as the apes approach
and retreat from but fi nally return to the alien object. Th e suggestion of the
ape-men’s increasing mobility in this episode is enhanced by the passage of
time, from night to day, from darkness to light, and from retreat and hiding to
aggressive attack (fi gure 19).

Th e editing now consists of lengthier shots, now involving more agitated
movement on the part of the apes that culminates in the touching of the
monolith. Moon-Watcher’s at fi rst tentative, then more assured, wielding
of the bone is accompanied by the renewed and jubilant sounds of Richard
Strauss’s � us Spake Zarathustra. Further, the appearance of the image of the
sun fl aring at the top of the monolith enlarges the spectator’s sense of space,
as if signaling that the constraints of the apes’ earlier existence in the African
veldt has been overcome and anticipating the journey to outer space. From
a tight framing of the landscape, which suggests the impossibility of visually
contemplating the out-of-fi eld, the episode has expanded its cinematic hori-
zon. Th e odyssey to consciousness has begun. Th e movement climaxes in the
spectacle of Moon-Watcher’s exultant and victorious throwing of the bone
into the air and the bone’s transformation into a space ship that resembles
the shape of the bone (fi gures 3 and 4). Th e Strauss music dramatically and
eff ectively marks a transformation in the apes, producing a shocking caesura.
Visually and aurally, this moment is characteristic of the fi lm’s allegorical
treatment predicated on its dramatic yoking of an image from the past with
one from the present.

Th is episode also is indicative of the fi lm’s mode of allegorizing by way of
introducing a connection between vision and thought. Th e episode is remark-
able for its emphasis on gesture. It becomes an investigation of gesture as a
form of consciousness that recalls how the early, silent cinema was an instru-
ment of perception and not merely a storytelling medium. Kubrick’s insis-
tence on the importance of aff ect is clearly conveyed in the focused and sen-
sory-motor behavior of the apes, evident in their awakening as expressed in
their killing of game and establishing their territorial dominance by means of
the bone. If the early cinema was supreme in focusing on situation and action
and relating them to modes of perception, these early moments of ���� are
for the spectator an invocation of the “dark dreams of the past” not as linear,
immutable, and absolutely true but as exposing diff erent presents and rela-
tions to the past, a past threatening ever to return.

Page 100

The Cinematographic Brain in 2001: A Space Odyssey 91

Th e behavior of the ape-men is exemplary of what Giorgio Agamben has
described as the politics of the gestural, the potential of the body for com-
municability as something other than a means to cultural, economic, and
political control. Th is potential for communicability is what he describes as a
means without end. Relying on music, dance, and display, the body commu-
nicates the power of the gesture, returning, in Agamben’s language, “images
back to the homeland of gesture,” where life can once again become deci-
pherable, breaking “with the false alternative between means and ends that
paralyzes morality and presents.”6 In producing the gesture, “the duty of the
director,” Agamben further writes, is “to introduce into this dream the ele-
ment of awakening”7 and, if anything, to explore the potential of cinema to
jar the spectator into wakefulness. In allegorical and proleptic fashion, the
episode invites speculation on the question of technology as a problematic
prosthesis, a means of survival at great intellectual and aff ective expense, but
also a tool to think diff erently from prevailing conceptions of rationality and

In heralding the transformation of the apes to “the status of a sapient sub-
ject,”8 the fi lm has not only posed the problem of knowledge and its eff ects but
has confronted the viewer with the cinematic medium as a visual and auditory
instrument for this cerebral examination. Th e dramatic visual transformation
in the landscape and in the portrait of the ape-men connects the prehistory
of humankind to the present of the spectator, but the episode has also off ered
a meditation on the history of cinema as more than a mere recording but as a
medium capable of refl ecting on its own uses of the technology of images in
the sparse dialogue, valorization of music, and “abandonment of narration,
emphasizing the sense of sight at the expense of language.”9 Th e technique in
addition suggests an early form of fi lmmaking, where perception was com-
municated through sensory experience, gesture, and aff ect.

The Human Brain of the Scientist

As the ship, a craft that resembles the bone thrown in the air by the ape, fl oats
through space in the next (untitled) episode to the music of Th e Blue Danube
Waltz, the spectator is given a diff erent perspective on the brain. Th e transi-
tion from the terrestrial world to that of space

[i]nvolves a passage from a shot that has a certain subjective force,
since the bone has been thrown by the ape and there is a relationship
of contiguity between them, to a shot that is utterly external in its pre-
sentation. Th e view of the spaceship does not belong to any character
and cannot be attributed to any contiguous person; and the following
dance to “Th e Blue Danube Waltz” is meant to be enjoyed as a specta-
cle, not as the presentation of anybody’s perception or subjectivity.10

Page 197


shape shift ing, 12, 66, 159
Sheldon, Alice, 74–75
Shelley, Mary, 30, 71
Th e Shining (Kubrick, 1980), 6, 11

and fairy tales, 173
and gender, 77
and obscene shadow, 128–29, 136–37
and space, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64

“Ship Who Sang, Th e” (Wilhelm), 74
Short-Timers, Th e (Hasford), 134
Siegal, Don, 7
signs, 47, 60, 69
silent fi lm, 25n2, 34, 35, 90
Simmons, Jean, 82
Sinai Field Mission (Wiseman, 1978), 57
skepticism, 51, 141, 155
Smith, Kiki, 161
“Snow Queen, Th e” (Andersen), 158
Sobchack, Vivian, 78
Social Darwinists, 142
Solaris (Lem), 73, 80
Sontag, Susan, 32, 36, 40n5, 44, 141
Soviet scientists. See Russian scientists
space, 10, 55–68

alien space, 62–63
and cinematographic brain, 88
dream space, 61–62
geometrical space, 63–65
institutional-offi cial space, 56–58
parody space, 59–61
ritual-game-war space, 58–59
thematic contradiction of, 19–20
ubiquitous space, 65–67

Space and Place (Tuan), 60–61
space operas, 44, 72, 75
Spartacus (Kubrick, 1960), 18, 23, 82, 134,

special eff ects, 21, 35, 44, 76, 83
Spiegel, Lynn, 39–40n4
Spielberg, Steven, 11, 76, 174
Stapledon, Olaf, 78, 83–84, 86n34
star child, 14, 22, 32, 37. See also fetus

and AI and transcendence, 112–15
and cinematographic brain, 99
eyes of, 39, 81, 156
and fairy tales, 155–56, 158–59
and gender, 80–83
and gravity, 50–51
and obscene shadow, 134, 138–42
and space, 57, 61, 63, 65

Stargate, 34, 61–62, 80–81, 150, 169–71
Star Trek (television series), 78
Star Trek: Th e Motion Picture (Wise,

1979), 79

Star Trek: Th e Next Generation (television
series), 112

Star Wars (Lucas, 1977), 7, 21, 83
statues, 161, 164–65
St. Clair, Margaret, 74
Stevens, Wallace, 159
stewardesses. See fl ight attendants
Stork, David, 37
Strange Days (Bigelow), 75
Strauss, Johann, 35, 43, 46, 72, 163
Strauss, Richard, 32, 35, 41n20, 72, 89–90,

93, 141, 149
superhumans, 113–14
superimpositions, 64, 65
Superman, 32, 41n20
Super Panavision, 37, 52–53n17, 83
Sylvester, William, 77–78, 92
symmetrical compositions, 59, 63, 64

Talaley, Rachel, 75
Tank Girl (Talaley), 75
Tarantino, Quentin, 5
Taylor, John Russell, 25n3
technology, 4, 15, 21–22, 30, 32–33

and animal brain, 91
and cinematographic brain, 88, 99–101
and computer brain, 94–98
and fairy tales, 154, 164
and gender, 70, 72, 76–78, 83
and gravity, 43–44, 46, 51, 53n21
and human brain, 92–93
and obscene shadow, 128, 145n19
and science fi ction conventions, 36–37

television, 25n2, 44, 88, 112
Telotte, Jay, 10
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 160
Terminator (Cameron, 1984, 1991; Mostow,

2003), 75
Th ackeray, William Makepeace, 138
Th ings to Come (Menzies, 1936), 44, 73, 78
3001: Th e Final Odyssey (Clarke), 34
time-image, 100–101
Time Machine, Th e (Wells), 71, 86n33
time travel, 29, 37, 65–66, 83, 86n33
Tiptree, James, Jr., 74–75
Toilets in Kubrick’s fi lms, 47, 60, 135–39,

Toles, George, 9, 12
trajectory, 10, 18, 44, 47–51
transcendent intelligence, 29–30, 112–15

and fairy tales, 154, 159
“Trash, Art, and the Movies” (Kael), 16–17
travel planning domain, 107, 123n2
trip movie, 3, 24, 25n3, 61, 149

Page 198


Trip to the Moon (Méliès, 1902), 35, 41n19,

True Lies (Cameron, 1994), 85n15
Truff aut, François, 5
Tuan, Yi-Fu, 60–61
Turing, Alan, 109, 119, 123n4
Turing Test, 109–10, 119, 123n4
20,000 Leagues under the Sea (Verne), 71
2001: A Space Odessey (Clarke), 18, 26n9,

35, 41n18, 133–34
2010: Odyssey Two (Clarke), 34
2061: Odyssey Th ree (Clarke), 34
Tykwer, Tom, 64

Ubermensch, 32, 41n20
ubiquitous space, 65–67
UFOs, 33
Ulysses, 159

Variety, 26n10
verisimilitude, 35–36, 39, 45. See also sci-

entifi c accuracy
Verne, Jules, 71, 72–73
violence, 5, 6, 9, 12

and computer brain, 96
critics’ views on, 15, 19, 21–22
and gender, 70, 77
and gravity, 47–50, 53n19
and obscene shadow, 127–28, 130,

134–35, 140, 142
and space, 57–59, 63

Virilio, Paul, 45–46, 48, 50–51
von Braun, Wernher, 52n5

Walker, Alexander, 32, 48, 56, 80, 140

War and Peace (Tolstoy), 56
war fi lms, 5, 63, 77
War of the Worlds (Haskin, 1953; Spiel-

berg, 2005), 36
war space, 58–59
Weaver, Sigourney, 78
weightlessness, 30, 46, 49, 52n14, 64, 76,

78, 160
Welles, Orson, 58, 83
Wells, H. G., 32, 71, 73, 78, 86n33
western fi lms, 72, 76, 84n9
“Where No Man Has Gone Before” (Star

Trek episode, 1965), 78
Whitcombe, John, 30–31, 40n5
White, Susan, 11–12, 60
Wilcox, Fred, 7
Wilhelm, Kate, 74
Willis, Connie, 74
Wiseman, Frederick, 57
Th e Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939), 143
Woman in the Moon (Lang, 1929), 73–74
Woman on the Edge of Time (Piercy), 74
“Women Men Don’t See, Th e” (Tiptree),

Women of Wonder (Sargent), 74
Woolf, Virginia, 161
work space, 57–58
“World as Meditation, Th e” (Stevens), 159

Youngblood, Gene, 26n7

zero gravity, 47, 60, 138. See also weight-

Žižek, Slavoj, 129, 134–35
zoo, 32, 34, 50, 57

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