Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So, on Thursday and then Tuesday after, I'm showing some snippets of film to get us from 1958 to 2002. Hitting the highlights. One of those highlights is, of course, Stanely Kubrick's 2001.

Once we wade through some beautiful (but in the end, utterly self-indulgent) filmmaking, we get to the main story: the conflicting orders given to the HAL 9000, and how they drive it insane. Easily one of the best stories in all of science fiction, and told beautifully. If the movie wasn't busy trying to be thirty other movies all at the same time, and had instead concentrated on this story, it wouldn't just be hailed as a masterpiece, but would actually be something people watched and knew and loved.

But I digress. The main parts I want to show this class of relatively novice literary critics of science fiction deal with HAL's most humanizing moments:

This is the scene where we first become aware of just how far things have gone with the HAL 9000. Here you can see a computer really breaking down to a human level--the chilling iciness of that perfectly controlled monotone against the tension of the scene is absolute masterpiece filmmaking.

This is the scene where we see a computer begging for its life. Of the two scenes, I don't know which is more chilling, but I know that I have a visceral reaction to this part of the film. I think the must gut wrenching sentence in our language is "stop, I'm afraid" no matter what voice it's delivered in. Here, though, in that perfectly controlled monotone? Bone chilling to me.

The only HAL scenes that are more impactful for me (and consequently, the only watchable parts of that stinkbomb that was 2010) are the scenes where the entity that used to be Dave Bowman returns to HAL and tells him about what's coming--the lonliness and stoic determination to do the right thing coupled with the sense of relief at being able to rest choke me up--but that's a future entry.


cfa said...

Wow - great scenes! I was watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles last night, and there was a scene that was similar to the "stop I'm afraid" clip. Chilling, indeed.

J. Campbell said...

I really need to get caught up on that series, but I have a problem with time travel stories. Is it good?