Often the film is noted for its scientific accuracy, sound in place of traditional narrative techniques, and minimal use of dialogue.
The Dawn of ManEdit
The film begins with a group of prehistoric apes. The apes are driven from their water hole by a rival group. After spending a night in a cave, the apes encounter the Monolith, which they approach with a mix of curiosity and fear.
Soon after, the apes begin to learn to use bones as weapons. They realized that this can be used to hunt and allowed them to eat meat. They then return to the water hole and drive out the rival group of apes. One of the apes triumphantly throws a bone into the air, and the film cuts to a satelite orbiting the Earth.
TMA-1EditA shuttle is seen leaving the Earth. It's only passenger is Dr. Heywood Floyd, who is travelling to Space Station V. While aboard the station, Floyd meets up with Dr. Andrei Smyslov, a Russian scientist who is interested in knowing the details of his visit to the Moon. Floyd refuses to tell him and leaves.
Floyd takes a shuttle from the station to the Moon, where he attends a press conference discussing the recent discovery of an extraterrestrial artifact on the Lunar surface. Along with a group of scientists, he takes a Moonbus to the site where the object is located.
It turns out the artifact is another Monolith, identified as TMA-1. The scientists try to get a photograph of the Monolith, but are interrupted as the artifact is exposed to the sun. It sends an ear-piercing signal.
The Jupiter MissionEdit
A title card reveals that 18 months have past. A spaceship, Discovery 1, is sent towards Jupiter with a crew of five: Dr. David Bowman, Dr. Frank Poole, Dr. Jack Kimball, Dr. Charles Hunter, and Dr. Victor Kaminsky. Bowman and Poole are the only two members of the crew who are not in suspended animation. Also on board is the artificially-intelligent computer HAL 9000, who runs many of the ships functions.
The film shows in detail the lives of the astronauts, and how Bowman and Poole try to occupy themselves while they are not working.
Bowman is busy drawing still-life sketches of the hibernating crew, which he shows to HAL, who is impressed. He then asks Bowman about the mission, but cuts himself off to report a fault in the AE-35 Unit, which is essential to maintaining contact with Earth.
Bowman leaves the Discovery in an EVA Pod, and works his way to the ship's antenna. He manages to remove the unit, and brings it back inside.
However, neither Bowman or Poole can find anything wrong with the unit. Hal suggests that it is simply due to human error, and that they should return the unit and wait for it to fail. The two astronauts hide in an EVA pod where they cut off radio contact with Hal and discuss what should be done. They decide to take his advice and to return the unit, but if it turns out he is wrong, they will have to disconnect him. Unknown to them, HAL is reading their lips.
Poole takes an EVA pod outside towards the antenna. He is about to return the unit, but HAL takes control of the pod. The pod then rams into Poole, severing his oxygen and sending him floating into space. Bowman sees this on a screen and attempts to take out an EVA pod in an effort to rescue Poole.
Bowman manages to recover Poole, but he is already dead. Meanwhile, with nobody aboard the Discovery, a malfunctioning HAL shuts off the life functions of the hibernating crew, killing them.
Bowman approaches the Discovery, only to be refused entry by HAL. Eventually, he decides to re-enter the ship through the emergency airlock even though he does not have his space helmet. Bowman then works his way to HAL's logic memory center, where he begins to disconnect him. After he finishes the task, HAL plays a pre-recorded briefing explaining the Monolith found in Tycho, and the purpose of the mission.
Jupiter and Beyond the InfiniteEditNow alone aboard the Discovery, Bowman arrives at Jupiter. There he finds another monolith in orbit around the planet. He decides to take an EVA pod towards it in an effort to investigate, but instead, the Monolith brings him into a mysterious passage known as the Star Gate.
Bowman finds himself in a hotel room, where he repeatedly encounters older versions of himself. Finally, he sees himself dying. A monolith appears once again and transforms him into a new entity known simply as the Star Child. The film ends with the star child looking down on the Earth.
Alternative filming styleEdit
As mentioned above, 2001: A Space Odyssey has been noted for its scientific accuracy, sound in place of traditional narrative techniques, and minimal use of dialogue. Kubrick decided to have a prominent use of Johann Strauss II's The Blue Danube waltz because Kubrick made an association with the spinning motion of satellites and the role of spinning dancers in a waltz or ballet. Richard Strauss' symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra was also used to portray the evolution of man theorized in a work of the same name.