Fridge / 2001: A Space Odyssey

Fridge Horror
  • Humanity only evolves once it develops the capacity to murder. Not merely kill, but carry out deliberate and premeditated violence. The first tool is a weapon. The first expression of intellect is an act of violence. And the famous Match Cut links it all together: the bone becomes the orbital weapons platform. We go from humanity's first weapon to what is, in essence, its last weapon. Millions of years of evolution, and our primal nature remains unchanged.
    • By this rubric, HAL has also evolved past his original parameters, but Dave effectively lobotomized him (in self defense, sure, but just listen to HAL beg for his life in those final moments).
      • Bet you didn't think it was possible to scream in a monotone.
  • When HAL cuts off the hibernating astronauts' life support, one can at least be thankful that they die in their sleep and never feel a thing, right? Right? Wrong! Notice how each of the sleepers' vital signs flatline. The last one to go is "Central Nervous System," i.e., the brain. It's ticking at a low ebb before HAL cuts the juice, but goes completely haywire for about three seconds before it flatlines, strongly suggesting their deaths were anything but painless. More? Okay. Remember how time seems to slow down when one is asleep or dreaming? How you can be asleep for a few seconds, but it feels much longer? Now imagine you're one of the three astronauts. You're completely out, and then suddenly your brain goes crazy. Everything is going wrong. You have no idea what is happening. And then you're dead. Sleep well.
  • Not sure if this belonged under Horror or Brilliance, but has anyone noticed the rectangular frame surrounding HAL's red eye looks EXACTLY like the Monolith?

Fridge Logic
  • Its scary how above reproach HAL is considered. Mission Control does not seem to be having any computer logs sent back to be pored over by techs. Neither is HAL programmed to notify mission control when it is having conflicts.
    • 2010 revealed that the order to have HAL know about the Monolith and keep the information from Dave and Frank came from the National Security Council (the President and selected military/foreign policy advisers), as it was classified Top Secret. Chances are, Mission Control had no idea (the telemetry could be intercepted and edited), and considering the time delay from Discovery to Earth, along with the very narrow radio transmission limits (no simulcast cable channels, after all), there's only so much data you can pump back from HAL, who probably has ridiculous amounts of it. It's one of the reasons he may have gone neurotic/psychotic; he couldn't even talk to Mission Control about his conflict, for fear of violating his orders, hence his attempt to break radio connection with Earth, so he could no longer feel he was being monitored. And with the link broken, he may have been able to tell Dave and Frank without getting in trouble. But they called him out on the nonexistent fault, which put him under even more stress, and then they dropped the bomb: disconnection. They thought they might have to kill him (or render him brain-dead) if he were malfunctioning. At that point, HAL decided he needed to stay alive (a rational decision), and thus dudes got wasted. As far as Mission Control knew, HAL was an AI of extremely high quality and reliability, and they had no reason to suspect he had any additional orders other than the original mission. In the book, they found out that a ground-based HAL model was suffering from the same psychosis, having been clued in as well. This is why one should treat AIs like other sentient beings; don't put them in these circumstances.

Fridge Brilliance
  • The Match Cut between the thrown bone and the orbiting weapons platform. There's roughly 4 million years of history that Clarke and Kubrick are deliberately jumping past: because between our becoming intelligent and advancing ourselves to travel through space, nothing else mattered.
  • The Nietzschean and Odyssean subtext becomes much clearer when you learn HAL was originally going to be named "Athena", after Odysseus's patron goddess. In the course of the film, HAL/Athena is killed by humanity. What's Nietzsche's famous aphorism? "God is dead, and we have killed him."
  • In the beginning, the Monolith gives primitive humans the ability to use tools, which lets them conquer the constant struggle for survival that dominates their hostile environment. Thousands of years later, HAL, the cumulation of humanity's toolmaking, is the only thing letting humans survive the hostile environment of outer space. However, when the machine acquires a very organic desire to survive, it and the astronaut Bowman must engage in another desperate struggle for survival, mirroring the "Dawn of Man" sequence.
  • When Bowman and HAL are fighting, HAL locks Bowman out of the Discovery because humans need technology to live in the vacuum of space. However, Bowman defies the machine and does an impromptu spacewalk without a helmet, proving how far he's willing to go to survive. In return, after he "kills" HAL, he comes to the monolith and is rewarded with a forced evolutionary advancement....that includes the ability to survive in the vacuum of space without technology.
  • During the course of the movie we see not only mankind's first tool (the bone club) but also its last (HAL). In the beginning mankind adopts technology to survive and prosper, but by the end of the movie our technology is no longer a benefit, it has become a crutch and even a liability, and we must shed ourselves of our dependence upon it if we wish to continue to survive and prosper. And what's more, Mankind (as personified by Dave) rids himself of his most advanced technology (HAL) with some of his simplest technology (a screwdriver).
  • The Soviets' British-accented English shows they've been bilingual since childhood — suggesting a timeline to the amicable relationship between the USSR and the West.
  • HAL's breakdown demonstrates the fallibility of mankind compared to the Firstborn. Because the humans who created HAL accidentally set up a situation in which it would go crazy and kill the crew, this shows that the human race is still a child compared to such brings as the Firstborn, who presumably would be knowledgeable enough to understand exactly how their technology works and not inadvertently create a Logic Bomb.
  • HAL's Logic Bomb is brought on because he was, in essence, instructed to lie to Bowman and Poole about their true mission objectives (hinted at here, made canon in both the novelization and 2010). So, why didn't Mission Control simply read Bowman and Poole in and swear them to secrecy? Watch the scene where Mission Control reveals they think HAL was "in error predicting the fault." Poole tries to grill HAL on the possibility that HAL may have made a mistake, and when HAL basically tells him to shut up, Poole has an obvious Oh Crap! look on his face. Bowman tries to downplay it, then he makes an excuse for him and Poole to go to his pod (saying he had radio trouble), but he's incredibly wooden and unconvincing. Then, when Bowman and Poole go to the pod to discuss their next move, they don't bother to act like they're checking the radio; they just sit there talking, often looking right at HAL. It's little wonder they weren't trusted to keep a secret: they're very bad liars.