Next: Act 3: Jupiter Mission Up: An Artistic Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey Previous: Act 1: The Dawn of Man

Act 2: From the Earth to the Moon

This act details the journey of Dr. Heywood Floyd from the earth, to the moon, where a mysterious black monolith, like the one from the first act has been found. Floyd travels on two ships, making a stop on an orbiting space station, and upon reaching the moon leads an expedition to examine the alien artifact.

This act is famous for its Blue Danube sequence which shows Floyd's journey from earth. The bright textured Earth is used to balance, asymmetrically, the equally bright spaceships and space station against the dark background of space, which is sparsely textured by stars (fig. 5).

The line formed by the curve of the earth draws the viewers eye to it, as does the texture of the space ships, which causes the eye to jump between the two.

More lines are used to direct the eye. The space stations radial arms draw the eye both toward the outer ring, and to the inner hub. As the station spins, the extended lines formed by the arms sweep across space, creating a feeling of space in the artistic sense (fig. 6).

The circular ring of the station causes to viewers eye to circle around the station and combined with the stations stately rotation, the elements of the station seem to dance before the viewers eyes, creating a real sense of rhythm. Again, asymmetric balance is maintained using the curve of the earth.

The rhythm of the scene is increased, and unity is created by the computer consoles in the spaceship cockpits (fig 7). Rows of buttons, evenly spaced, in saturated colors are shown, and the computer screens blink in a soothing pattern.

The docking bay (fig. 9) on the space station uses bright light to create the effect of a large space, while the lines making up the floor and ceiling direct the eye towards the space beyond the door, lighting is used to make the docking bay look inviting, symmetric balance is maintained both up and down, and left to right.

The interior of the station uses bright while light to create space, and the red chairs create a comfortable atmosphere (fig 10).

When Floyd uses a video-phone to call his daughter on earth (fig. 11), two curves are used to both add balance to the shot, and to draw our attention to the faces of the actors, one is the curve of the earth, which surrounds Floyd's head and draws the eye toward him, the other is the curve that is part of the wall, which draws the eye to his daughter.

Almost every scene uses lines to direct the viewers eye toward whatever the director wanted to be the focus. A good example is a famous scene featuring a special effect where a stewardess is seen walking up the wall inside a spaceship (fig. 12). Lines making up the walls are used to focus the viewers eye towards the stewardess and her defiance of gravity. Meanwhile, horizontal lines making up the wall behind her serve as a frame of reference while she walks up the wall. Kubrick seems to love using one-point linear perspective in this movie, he uses it constantly to make special effects possible, and also for artistic effect, like with the monolith.

After another beautiful spaceship ride, Dr. Floyd arrives on the moon and takes a shuttle to the site of the monolith. The surface of the moon is shown as rocky, mountainous, and jagged (fig. 13). The intention is to remind us of the natural scenes from the dawn of man. Earthlight is used to light the scene with high contrast between dark and light, the moon is made to look eerie.

When Floyd and his party reach the monolith (fig. 14), a similar scene to that of the the man-apes is created. Again the monolith is the focus, due to its placement, and its black color against the brown of the walls. The height of the monolith is emphasized again also, by giving the walls of the pit vertical lines that compliment it. When Dr. Floyd touches it (fig. 15), the camera again comes in close enough to keep the top of the monolith out of frame, making it look bigger than life.

When monolith emits an intense signal after being exposed to the sun, Kubrick uses the same low angle that he used in act 1 to aim the focus of the viewer (fig. 16), in this case the lines formed by the shape of the monolith intersect over the earth, symbolic of both the involvement of the monolith with earth, and the journey mankind had to make to get to it.

Next: Act 3: Jupiter Mission Up: An Artistic Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey Previous: Act 1: The Dawn of Man
Mike Akers 2000-11-10

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