Kubrick’s Frankenstein: HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey

This is a great analysis of both Frankenstein and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Happy 50th Birthday 2001: A Space Odyssey, your Promethean themes are remembered here.

Cinema Prism

By John Thurman

It seems to have been deliberately buried.

— Dr. Ralph Halvorsen (Robert Beatty) in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Buried within Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), like the monolith found beneath the moon’s surface in the film, is the motif of the Frankenstein story. In the H. A. L. 9000 computer (“HAL”), humans have created the first artificial intelligence: a sentient, albeit synthetic, life form. But HAL’s very existence is an abomination; he is a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. While perhaps not overtly monstrous, HAL’s true character is hinted at by his physical “deformity”. Like a Cyclops he relies upon a single eye, examples of which are installed throughout the ship. The eye’s literally warped wide-angle point-of-view is


HAL’s warped perspective

shown several times — notably in the drawings of hibernating astronauts (all of whom HAL will later murder). But as Frankenstein’s monster is a crudely-sutured…

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