Next: Conclusion Up: An Artistic Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey Previous: Act 3: Jupiter Mission

Act 4: Jupiter, and Beyond the Infinite

When Dave arrives at Jupiter in Discovery, he finds the monolith orbiting the planet, he approaches it in his one of the ship's pods, and is taken for the wildest ride in movie history.

Dave's journey into the monolith is an amazing feat of special effects magic. Even today, no one knows how some of the effects were created, and the people who were involved in their creation refuse to tell anyone how they were made. They are even more impressive if you consider that computers were not used, or available for creating these effects.

Color, shape, space, and motion are the dominant elements of these scenes. The first effect we see is a tunnel of lights flying past our viewpoint (fig. 24, 25, 26). The bright saturated colors are a shock after the black and whites of space and Discovery. The motion is intense, it almost creates a physical sensation of movement as the patterns fly by. Lines radiating from the center of the screen, are used to keep us focused on what is up ahead, and the tunnel vision created by the lines increases the sense of motion. Finally, space is created by the way that all the lines converge on a single point, this makes it look like you are flying past enormous planes of light and color.

While this is happening, we are shown flashes of Dave's horrified expression (fig. 27). These images are sudden and unexpected, which frightens us, reminds us of what Dave must be experiencing, and helps to put us in his shoes.

We are then shown beautiful images of the creation of galaxies and stars (fig. 28), these forms seem to be made of liquid as they explode from the center of the screen and flow slowly across it. The bright shapes centered on dark backgrounds give us the impression that we are looking at enormous forces at work on huge objects. they serve to put us in awe of the universe.

As the journey progresses we are shown more strange shapes like colorful octahedrons floating above a moving plain of light and color (fig. 29). Theses continue to feed the feeling of huge distances crossed and incredible speed.

At the end of Dave's journey, he arrives in a strange set of rooms (fig 29, 30). They are decorated like a nice hotel room, but the light from the floor makes everything look very strange. We try to focus on the familiar objects in the room, but the unfamiliar lighting distracts and disorients us.

Dave ages rapidly and becomes an old man lying in his death bed (fig. 31). The head board is green, and the bedspread is tan, which I think symbolizes nature. The monolith appears in the room and Dave struggles to reach to it and touch it. There is asymmetrical balance in this shot, which makes it look like the monolith and Dave are regarding each other, trying to figure each other out.

Finally, Dave is transformed by the monolith into ``The Star Child'' (fig. 32). Which is expressed as a human fetus hovering in space, the final shot of the movie shows the Star Child looking at the viewer, with an expression of peace and understanding on its face. Like the ape-men learning how to use tools, the star child is symbolic of the next stage of human evolution, caused by the monolith.

Next: Conclusion Up: An Artistic Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey Previous: Act 3: Jupiter Mission
Mike Akers 2000-11-10

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