2001: A Space Odyssey, the free replay
EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT - Jessica Zafra () - August 15, 2010 - 12:00am

Stanley Kubrick’s film, which he co-wrote with Arthur C. Clarke, was released in 1968, when much of the technology featured in it was regarded as science-fiction.

On a plain dotted with rocks and dry scrub, we see the dried white bones of a horned creature. Then some apes eating. A big cat pounces on an ape and kills him. Two groups of apes fight over a watering hole.

One morning the apes awaken to find a black monolith by their cave. It’s tall, smooth, and it’s humming like a chorus of voices. The apes touch it, try to taste it.

Next, an ape contemplates the bones of a dead animal. He picks up a bone and starts hitting the other bones with it. He imagines clubbing an animal. The ape has discovered tools.

A fight breaks out with the other apes. The ape with the bone whacks an opponent with it. They have discovered weapons.

The ape throws the bone high up in the air, then the scene shifts to satellite orbiting the earth. (This is a famous bit that has been copied and spoofed everywhere.)

On a spaceship a flight attendant with Velcro shoes walks across the cabin. There’s no gravity. A visitor, Dr. Heywood R. Floyd, arrives. Before his meeting he makes a video phone call to his daughter on earth.

He speaks briefly to some people and tells them he is going to Clavius. A man asks him what’s going on — there’s been no communication to Clavius for 10 days. There are rumors of a serious epidemic. Floyd does not answer.

A flight attendant serves a meal — a plastic tray of tetra-packs with straws attached. Floyd reads the directions on the Zero Gravity Toilet.

The ship lands on a rocky surface with a complex of buildings. There is a conference. Floyd thanks those present for their sacrifices. Apparently there’s been a major discovery and it’s been kept secret. The epidemic is their cover story.

Then a shuttle is taking them to the discovery. It seems to have been buried four million years ago. There’s that chorale humming again. It’s the monolith. Floyd touches it. A high-pitched shriek emanates from the monolith and they cover their ears.

Eighteen months later we join the first manned flight to Jupiter. The passengers are five men, three of them in hibernation, and a HAL-9000 computer, the most reliable machine ever, incapable of error. It talks, and is called Hal.

“Do you believe that Hal has genuine emotions?” the BBC interviewer had asked the captain, Dave Bowman. Dave says he cannot truthfully answer.

One day Hal asks Dave a personal question: Does he have any second thoughts about the mission? He notes some odd things about the flight, such as rumors of something dug up on the moon. 

Hal reports a malfunction in the AE-35 unit outside the ship. Dave goes outside in a pod to retrieve it. “Open the pod doors, Hal.” 

But Dave can’t find anything wrong with it. “It’s puzzling,” Hal agrees. He recommends putting the unit back and letting it fail so they can find out what’s wrong with it. Mission Control says HAL-9000 is wrong about the malfunction. But Hal is supposed to be error-proof. Hal says the discrepancy in findings is obviously a human error. A 9000 series computer has never been wrong.

Dave gets Frank to join him in a pod where Hal can’t hear them. Frank has a bad feeling. Hal controls the whole ship; if he’s malfunctioning they’ll have to disconnect him. But no 9000 computer has ever been disconnected. What would Hal think?

Ayyy! Hal can’t hear the two men but he’s lip-reading them.

Frank takes the pod out to replace the AE-35 unit. As he’s floating through the void the pod turns, then Frank and pod are hurtling into space.

Dave asks Hal what happened. Hal doesn’t know. Dave goes out in another pod, catches Frank with the pod’s arms and takes him back to the ship.

Back on the ship, there is a computer malfunction and the life support systems of the hibernating astronauts fail. The three astronauts are killed.

Dave returns to the ship and asks Hal to open the pod bay doors. Hal does not respond at first, then he refuses. He will not allow the humans to jeopardize the mission by disconnecting him. 

The pod’s arms open, releasing Frank into space. Dave uses the arms to open the emergency airlock and get back inside the ship.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?” Hal asks. Dave doesn’t answer. Hal says he feels much better. He tries to talk Dave out of shutting him down. “I’m afraid.” Dave starts shutting down Hal’s memory. “My mind is going. I can feel it.”

It feels like murder. Hal sings “Daisy” as he dies. As it dies. Can a machine die?

Dave watches a taped briefing they were supposed to see when they reached Jupiter. Only Hal had known about it. The message reveals the discovery of the first evidence of intelligent life off the earth: the monolith, which is sending a radio signal to Jupiter. Nobody knows what it is.

Dave hurtles through some kind of tunnel with psychedelic flashing colors. 

Then the pod is in an old-fashioned room. Dave is in his space suit. He’s very old. He sees an old man sitting at a table, eating. The old man walks towards him. It’s Dave himself. Dave sits down to a meal. He drops a bottle and when he stoops to pick it up he sees an old man lying on the bed. It is Dave himself. Dave raises his hand and points at something in front of the bed. It is the monolith. Then Dave is gone and there is a child in a transparent orb lying on the bed. Then we are out in space and the child is heading towards the earth.

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