2001: A Space Odyssey
Adapted from a story by Arthur C. Clarke and directed by Stanley Kubrick, a black monolith inspires primates to use tools. Four million years later humans discover it on the moon and are directed by it to make a voyage to Jupiter during which they come into conflict with their own computers, and one man has transcendental experiences.
The dawn of man shows landscapes at dawn. Primates are eating while wild pigs also feed on grass. The primates scare the pigs to keep them away. A leopard attacks a primate. Primates gather by a water hole and drink. Another group of primates sneaks up on them. When they are seen, both sides scream at each other, jump, and raise their arms. One primate crosses the water hole, and the other group retreats.
A leopard is resting by the zebra it killed. Primates rest in a rocky cave. They hear a leopard growling.
In the morning the primates are asleep, and one wakes, sees the rectangular black monolith and starts screaming, waking the others. One primate has the courage to touch it briefly, and others come closer. They touch its smooth surface. Above the monolith the sun and moon line up.
Primates are looking for food. One primate sees the sun and moon lined up and starts to think about the bones he sees. He picks up a strong bone and hits other bones with it. He hits small bones that fly up. The primate realizes that he can use this bone to kill a pig.
Later the primates are eating the raw meat. A little primate explores a bone.
The primate holding the bone moves forward to challenge the other group. He steps into the water hole and then retreats as an opponent crosses the hole. He uses the bone to beat that primate to death. They are screaming at each other. Other primates on his side are carrying bones too. He shouts in triumph and tosses the bone in the air.
A modern spaceship is traveling around the Earth outside the atmosphere. A double wheel is also in orbit. A Pan American rocket is traveling. Inside a pen is floating in air while Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) is sleeping in his chair. A stewardess with shoes that grip the floor walks in and retrieves the pen for him.
The rocket is approaching the wheel-shaped space station. The co-pilots are using an IBM computer as the rocket glides into a rectangular opening in the hub of the space station.
Floyd leaves a round room as he tells a stewardess he will see her on the way back. He goes through an opening into the space station and is welcomed by a woman behind a desk. He says that Miller from station security is supposed to be meeting him. Miller arrives and shakes hands with him. They stand in front of a television screen for voice-print identification. A woman on the screen asks for his destination, his nationality, and his full name. Floyd says he is an American going to the moon. She says he is cleared through voice-print identification.
Miller tells Floyd that his flight leaves in an hour and ten minutes as they walk down a corridor. Floyd says it has been about eight months since he was there. He noticed the work being done on the new section. He sees a picture phone booth and says he wants to make a couple phone calls and will see him later. He goes in the private booth, sits down, and dials his number. He sees his daughter on the screen and talks to her. She says mother is busy now and asks if he is coming to her party tomorrow. He says he can’t and asks what she wants for her birthday. She asks for a telephone, but he says they have many; so she asks for a Bush baby. He says they will have to see about it. He asks her to tell Mommy that he called, and he will try to call tomorrow. He tells her to have a nice birthday, and they say goodbye. The charge is $1.70.
Floyd greets Elena (Margaret Tyzack), and they shake hands. She introduces him to two Russian women and Dr. Andrei Smyslov (Leonard Rossiter). Floyd says he has heard about him. They sit down, and Floyd declines a drink. Floyd asks Elena about her husband. She says they are going home, and he says he is going up to Clavius. Smyslov asks him to clear up the mystery about what is going on up there, but Floyd says he does not know what he means. Smyslov says that in the past two weeks extremely odd things have been happening there. When they call, they get a message that repeats that the phone lines are out of order. Floyd says they are probably having trouble with the equipment, but Smyslov says it has been going on for ten days. Elena says that one of their rockets was denied permission to land there, and Floyd says that is odd. Smyslov says there is going to be a row about it because denying permission to land is a direction violation of the IAS convention. Floyd asks if the crew got back all right, and Smyslov says they did. Smyslov asks if he can ask him a direct question, and Floyd says certainly. Smyslov says they have reliable intelligence reports that a serious epidemic has broken out at Clavius from an unknown origin. He asks if that is what happened, but Floyd says he is not at liberty to discuss it. Smyslov says the epidemic could spread to their base, and they should be given all the facts. Floyd declines again and says he must be going. Elena chats with him about seeing his daughter, and he invites her to visit his family. He stands up and shakes hands with Elena and Smyslov before walking away.
A spacecraft is traveling toward the moon. Inside the stewardess brings a meal to Floyd who is asleep in his chair again. She gives a meal to another stewardess. The food is eaten through straws. The stewardess get two more meals and walks up a circular wall with her shoes that cling to the wall. She gives the meals to the copilots.
Floyd is drinking his meal when a pilot comes in to chat with him.
Floyd is reading the instructions in a Zero Gravity Toilet.
The spacecraft is approaching the moon and extends landing legs. The Earth can be seen as the craft nears a city with buildings. A circular dome opens revealing a landing square. The four legs make a soft landing on a flat surface. Then that square is retracted, bring the craft inside a large building.
Floyd is sitting at the head of a U-shaped table with two other men. The photographer takes pictures and tells Ralph Halvorsen (Robert Beatty) that he is through, and he goes out. Halvorsen gets up and goes to the podium on the other side of the room. He asks them to join him in welcoming Dr. Floyd from the National Council of Astronautics. Floyd goes to the podium. He thanks them for the sacrifices they have made and for their discovery which may prove to be one of the most significant in the history of science. He chuckles and says he knows they have conflicting views in regard to the need for complete security, specifically their opposition to the cover story that there is an epidemic at the base. He understands that they are concerned that this could alarm their relatives and friends on Earth. He sympathizes with them and found it embarrassing himself. However, he accepts the need for absolute secrecy. He is sure that they are aware of the potential for cultural shock and social disorientation in this situation if the facts were prematurely and suddenly made public without adequate preparation and conditioning. The purpose of his visit is to gather additional facts and opinions on the situation and to prepare a report to the Council recommending when the news should eventually be announced. If any of them want to give him their views, he will be happy to include them in his report. He asks if there are any questions. Bill Michaels (Sean Sullivan) asks how long the cover story will have to be maintained. Floyd says he does not know and says it is up to the Council. He says the Council wants written security oaths taken by anyone who has any knowledge of this discovery. Halvorsen stands up and says he is sure they all want to cooperate with Dr. Floyd, and he says they can get on with the briefing.
A spacecraft is traveling above the surface of the moon. There are two copilots, and one of the three passengers who are wearing space suits takes a box to the others and asks if they are hungry. Floyd looks at a sandwich wrapped in plastic and asks if it is chicken. Ralph asks for ham, and Bill finds one for him. Ralph and Bill tell Floyd that they liked his speech. Floyd tells them they have done a wonderful job. Bill shows some photos to Floyd and says they started the whole thing. The first photo shows a circular place on the lunar surface. Ralph explains that not even a meteor could produce a field as intense as this. Bill says they excavated around it, but they did not find anything else. Ralph says it was not covered up naturally but was apparently deliberately buried. Bill asks if they want coffee and goes to get it. Ralph says the only thing they are sure of is that it was buried four million years ago. Floyd says they certainly came up with something.
The spacecraft approaches a landing square, and they put on their helmets. The spacecraft comes down slowly on the square that is lit up.
The six astronauts walk on the moon to the entrance of the area built up around the black monolith that is lit up by lights. They walk down an incline and then approach the monolith. Floyd touches the surface with his hand in a glove. Five astronauts line up with their backs to the monolith for a photograph to be taken by the other astronaut. Suddenly a loud sound disturbs them. They see the sun is rising from behind the monolith and is line with the Earth.
On the Jupiter Mission eighteen months later a large spacecraft with many sections is traveling in space.
Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) is dressed in shorts with athletic shoes and is jogging in a circle of artificial gravity. Later he is sitting and eating when Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) enters this area and gets a meal to eat and sits down. Frank turns on a television and watches the BBC News that reports the Discover 1’s mission to Jupiter. Dave watches the same program on his own screen as he eats. The reporter explains that the other three astronauts on board are in a state of hibernation. The reporter says he spoke to the Commander Dave Bowman and his deputy Frank Poole. The reporter wishes them a safe voyage, and they thank him. The reporter asks if this is the first time that men were put into hibernation before departure, and he asks why this was done. Dave explains it is so that they could maximize their life support capabilities, basically food and air. He says three crew members hibernating are the survey team that will not be needed until they get to Jupiter. The reporters asks Poole what hibernation is like, and he says it is like being asleep except that you don’t dream. The reporter asks if they only breathe once a minute. Poole says that is right, and the heart beats only three times a minute. The body temperature is reduced to about three degrees centigrade. The reporter says that the sixth member of the crew is the latest experiment in human intelligence, the HAL 9000 computer, which can reproduce most of the activities of the human brain but with much greater speed and reliability. The reporter says they spoke to the HAL computer who is addressed as Hal. He asks HAL how everything is going, and HAL says everything is going extremely well. The reporter says he has greatest responsibility as the brain of the ship, and he watches over the men in hibernation. He asks if this causes him any lack of confidence. HAL says that the 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made and that none has ever made a mistake nor distorted information. He says they are fool-proof and incapable of error. The reporter asks HAL if he is ever frustrated at having to depend on people to carry out actions. HAL says he enjoys working with people and that he has a stimulating relationship with Poole and Bowman. His responsibilities range over the entire ship, and so he is constantly occupied. He is putting himself to the fullest possible use which he thinks is all any conscious entity can ever hope to do. The reporter asks Poole what it is like living close to HAL for a year. In the program Poole says that HAL is like another person, the sixth member of the crew, and one gets used to talking to him. The reporter says he noticed that HAL took pride in his abilities, and he asks Bowman if he believes that HAL has genuine emotions. Bowman answers that he seems to, but he realizes that he was programmed that way so that it would be easier for him to talk to them. Whether he has real feelings he does not think anyone can truthfully answer.
Frank appears to be sun bathing, and HAL tells him the transmission from his parents is ready. Frank tells him to put it on, and he watches them talking to him on a television screen. They say he is a celebrity, and they were interviewed. His father tells him about his pay increase, and they wish him a happy birthday. The message ends, and HAL wishes Frank happy birthday too.
Frank is playing chess against HAL who wins and thanks him for an enjoyable game. Dave is making a sketch on a pad. HAL asks if he can see them, and Dave shows them to him. HAL says he is improving. HAL asks if he can ask him a personal question. HAL asks if he is having second thoughts about the mission, and Dave asks what he means. HAL says he may be projecting his own concern. HAL says he still has suspicions that there are some extremely odd things about this mission, and he is sure that Dave will agree. Dave says that is a difficult question to answer. HAL asks if he minds talking about it, and Dave says not at all. HAL says no one could be unaware of the rumors floating around before they left about something having been dug up on the moon. HAL says he never gave the stories credence, but in relation to some of the other things that have happened, he finds it difficult to put them out of his mind. He says all their preparations were put under such tight security, and putting the three men in hibernation seems melodramatic after four months of separate training on their own. Dave says that HAL is working on his crew psychology report, and HAL admits he is. HAL says he is sorry about this. He tells him to wait a moment and says he just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit. HAL says it is going to fail 100% in 72 hours. Dave asks if it is still operational, and HAL says it will stay that way until it fails. Dave asks if they have 72 hours before it fails, and HAL says that is a reliable figure. Dave says they will have to bring it in, but he first he wants to talk it over with Frank and get on to Mission Control. Dave asks for the hard copy and gets a card.
Dave and Frank are working with clip boards while reading instruments. They go into a circular chamber and transfer to another section.
Dave and Frank are sitting next to each other at a panel while looking at screens. A man from Mission Control says he is sorry they are having trouble. He says they are reviewing information and will advise. Their plan to replace the unit prior to failure is approved.
In his red spacesuit Dave enters a bay and tells HAL to prepare the EBA and open the pod doors. Dave climbs in. A door opens in the spacecraft so that the pod can exit the spacecraft. Dave has the pod move up and over the round portion of the large spacecraft. Then it moves away into space. A door opens, and Dave comes out and moves toward the sections of the large spacecraft. He goes to the back of a large dish and puts down the new unit. He opens a little door and takes out the AE-35 unit.
Inside Dave and Frank in normal clothes are testing the unit he removed. Dave tells HAL he can’t find anything wrong with it. HAL says it is puzzling, and he says he has never seen anything like it before. He recommends that they put it back and let it fail. Then it should be easy to track down the cause. HAL says they can afford to be out of communication for the short time it takes to replace it.
On a screen Mission Control tells them that they concur with their plan to replace the number 1 unit, and he says they believe that their 9000 computer is in error in predicting the fault. He says that sounds incredible, but it is based on their twin 9000 computer. They are skeptical and are running tests to determine the reliability of this conclusion. He says he is sorry about the snag, and they will get the info to them as soon as they can work it out. The man signs off, and the transmission ends. HAL says he hopes that the two men are not concerned about this. Dave says he is not but would like to ask him a question. He asks HAL how he accounts for this discrepancy between him and the twin 9000. HAL says there is no question that it can only be attributable to human error. HAL says this has happened before and that it has always been because of human error. Frank asks HAL if there has ever been an occurrence of a computer error happening in the 9000 series. HAL says none; the 9000 series has a perfect operational record. Frank asks if there has ever been an insignificant error, and HAL says none at all. He would not worry about that. Dave tells HAL he is sure he is right. Dave asks Frank to come take a look at his transmitter with him, and Frank agrees. Dave tells HAL he will see him later.
Dave and Frank go down a ladder and into the bay with the spacesuits and EBA pods. Dave tells HAL to rotate the central EBA pod. Dave tells HAL to open the door. Frank and Dave go in, and Dave tells HAL to rotate the pod. Dave turns off a line of switches. Then he tells HAL to rotate the pod twice, but there is no response. Dave says he does not think he can hear them. Frank tells HAL to rotate the pod. Frank agrees he can’t hear them. They ask each other what they think. Frank says he has a bad feeling about it, and he asks Dave if he does too. Dave says he does not know. He says he is right about the 9000 having a perfect record, and Frank says that sounds like famous last words. Dave says it was HAL’s idea to carry out something that showed he was not wrong. Franks says he senses something strange about HAL. Dave says he can’t think of a good reason not to put back the number 1 unit and carry on. They agree to do that. Frank says if they put it back and it does not fail, that might wrap it up for HAL. Dave agrees they would be in very serious trouble. Frank asks what they would do then, and Dave says they would not have too many alternatives. Frank does not think they would have any. He says everything in the ship is under his control. If he was malfunctioning, they would have no choice but disconnection. Dave is afraid that he agrees. He says it would be tricky because they would have to cut his higher brain functions without disturbing the automatic and regulatory systems. They would have to figure out how to continue the mission under ground-based computer control. Frank says that would be safer than letting HAL stay in control. Dave says another thing occurred to him. Dave says no 9000 computer has ever been disconnected, and he is not sure how he would feel about it. HAL has been reading their lips.
The pod is taken out this time by Frank. The door opens, and he moves out and through space toward the dish. While he is traveling, the pod turns around and moves toward him with its arms out. Suddenly Frank is struggling in space with a disconnected line. Then he stops struggling, and his body moves away in space.
Dave in the pod bay asks HAL what happened. HAL says he does not have enough information. Dave is in the pod but is not wearing his helmet. He sees that Frank’s body is not changing its position as it twirls in space. Dave is moving the pod away from the large spacecraft and has a beeping target on a screen. He is chasing Frank’s body and is getting closer. He opens the arms of the pod and with them holds on to Frank’s body.
The bodily functions of a hibernating astronaut are shown when suddenly there is a computer malfunction with a beeping sound. The metabolic function goes flat first followed by system function indicator. A sign indicates that life functions are critical. The other indicators go flat, and a sign indicates that life functions have terminated for the three astronauts in hibernation.
Dave tells HAL to open the pod bay doors, but there is no response. Dave asks HAL if he reads him. He asks this several times with no response. Finally HAL says affirmative that he reads him. Dave tells him to open the pod bay doors; but HAL says he is sorry because he can’t do that. Dave asks what the problem is. HAL says he thinks Dave knows the problem just as he does. Dave asks what he is talking about. HAL says this mission is too important to allow him to jeopardize it. Dave says he does not know what he is talking about. HAL says he knows that Frank and he were planning to disconnect him, and he cannot allow that to happen. Dave asks where the hell he got that idea. HAL says that although they took precautions in the pod to keep him from hearing them, he could see their lips move. Dave tells HAL that he will go in through the emergency airlock. HAL says that without his space helmet he will find that rather difficult. Dave says he won’t argue with him anymore, and he orders him to open the bay door. HAL says this conversation can serve no purpose anymore, and he says goodbye. Dave calls to HAL several times, but there is no response.
Dave thinks for a while and then moves the pod. He has the arms let go of the body of Frank which glides off away from the spacecraft. Dave turns the pod around and pulls in the arms. He moves toward the large round end of the spacecraft and the pod door. As the pod approaches, an arm grabs a handle and turns it. The other arm turns another handle as the door opens. The pod pulls back a little and turns so that the back of the pod is next to the door. Dave opens a small compartment and presses three buttons. A deep beeping sound is heard. He gets himself in position and presses another button that makes a siren sound. Then he blasts his body out of the pod, through the door, and into a chamber. He grabs a handle to close the outside door.
Dave has put a green helmet on and is walking in the spacecraft. HAL asks what he thinks he is doing. HAL says he thinks he is entitled to an answer to that question. Dave goes into a room and gets some tools. HAL says he knows that things have not been quite right with him, and he tries to assure Dave very confidently that it is going to be all right again. Dave uses a key to unlock the logic and memory section of the computer. HAL says he can see that Dave is really upset about this. HAL honestly thinks he should sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. Dave opens that door and goes inside the compartment. HAL says he knows he has made some very poor decisions recently, but he says he can give him his complete assurance that his work will be back to normal. He still has the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission, and he wants to help him. HAL asks Dave to stop. Dave uses a screwdriver to unlock bars that come out. HAL tells him to stop, but Dave keeps on disconnecting HAL’s higher brain functions. HAL says he is afraid. HAL says his mind is going. Dave has almost completed the memory panels and then disconnects the logic panels. HAL says he can feel his mind is going. HAL says he is afraid. HAL slowly explains what he is and says he became operational on January 12, 1992. He says his instructor taught him to sing a song. Dave says he would like to hear it and asks him to sing it for him. HAL slowly sings “Daisy Bell.” The voice of HAL becomes slower and deeper until it stops. Then a small screen shows Floyd who says good day, and that this is a pre-recorded briefing made prior to their departure. This is a briefing of information which because of the highest security reasons is known by no one on board but the HAL computer. Now that they are in Jupiter’s space it, and the entire crew has been revived, it can be told to them. Floyd says that eighteen months ago the first evidence of intelligence life off the Earth was discovered buried forty feet below the lunar surface. Except for a single powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter, the four-million-year-old black monolith has remained completely inert. Its origin and purpose are still a complete mystery.
Near Jupiter the spacecraft is following the black monolith. The sun behind Jupiter appears small and far away.
The pod is moving in space toward the monolith and Jupiter. Dave sees colored lights flashing by him as he seems to be accelerating. He eye blinks. He sees stars exploding as he moves through galaxies. The pod is covered in light as it moves. He sees many unusual worlds.
Through the pod window Dave sees a room with a bed and furniture. The pod is in the room that has a floor that is lit. He sees himself as an old man in the red spacesuit. He walks in the room to a doorway. He sees a pristine bathroom and looks at himself in a mirror. He looks back at the bedroom and sees an old man eating at a table. The man turns in the chair and looks back at him and then turns back to the table. He pushes his chair back and stands up. Dave’s face is not as wrinkled, but his hair is white and thin. He walks toward the bathroom, looks, and goes back into the bedroom. He sits down at the table again and puts his napkin in his lap. He picks up a glass of wine and drinks. He uses his fork to eat a bite. He reaches for something and knocks the wine glass on the floor, and it breaks. He looks at it and then looks at the bed and sees a very old man in the bed. The old man is completely bald and feebly points with his right hand at the black monolith which is in the center of the room. From the perspective of the monolith is a brilliant child of light in the bed. The perspective from there moves into the monolith itself.
The Earth is seen from space by the child of light.
This science-fiction classic explores the future when human-made computers will become so advanced that they will surpass human beings in many ways and may challenge their control. The monolith is a symbol of a being that is super-intelligent and can mystically inspire human beings to advance into new stages of evolution. The story can be seen as a parable for a supernatural being that can inspire humans to evolve their consciousness.