[The following analysis is from Nelson's KUBRICK: INSIDE A FILM ARTIST'S MAZE (pp. 121-3, 126-8), and is typical of the level of detail found in that work.] * * * * * [I]n 2001 Kubrick shows a character shedding his doppelganger and opening his eyes to new perceptions. Poole's physical and earthbound activities balance Bowman's slightly more dreamy and spatial definition: Poole jogs and shadowboxes, wears gym shorts, sunbathes under a heat lamp (like Miss Scott of STRANGELOVE), and watches his birthday celebration over a screen transmission from Earth while reclining between two coffin-shaped hibernacula; Bowman prefers to draw pictures of figures, like himself, who sleep time away in anticipation of an awakening in deep space. Overall, however, Poole and Bowman represent mirror twins more than true doubles, especially after it becomes apparent that a computer, not Poole, will play Quilty to Bowman's Humbert. Not only does Kubrick choose two actors with significant physical resemblances, but he repeatedly places them in visual or comparative contexts that create a mirroring effect: Bowman is left- handed and Poole right-handed, and both eat the same food while narcistically watching, on separate newspad screens, a BBC telecast (ironically titled "The World Tonight") where their images, along with HAL's eye, are duplicated. Poole loses a game of chess to HAL (a foreshadowing of his death) while Bowman sleeps, and Bowman displays his simple drawings of the hibernators before one of HAL's appreciative fish-eyed lens while Poole sleeps. In most two-shots, Bowman occupies screen right and Poole screen left, while in one-shots an empty space or chair recalls the missing twin. Whenever the two astronauts are seen in two-shot through one of HAL's eyes, for instance, Bowman is screen right and Poole screen left. When Bowman shows HAL his drawings, Bowman is framed to the right and an empty chair is prominent on the left; at the end of this shot, Bowman brings the pictures closer to HAL's eye so that they fill the screenleft position. Later, when they talk in the pod just before the lipreading scene, Bowman (right) and Poole (left) are profiled as twins, while between them Kubrick has framed HAL's eye within the pod's oval eye; just above HAL we see the empty red helmet of Bowman's space suit, which, surrealistically, seems to stare into the pod as well. In this one shot, Kubrick both twins Bowman and Poole and doubles HAL and Bowman. Poole and Bowman each take an extravehicular trip outside the spaceship, while the other watches on a screen from inside; and finally, after Poole is murdered by HAL's "bone" (the pod), Bowman uses another pod in an attempt to rescue his twin from the darkness of space. Both serve HAL in a janitorial capacity and depend on him for companionship, knowledge of their world's status, and the very air they breathe. In addition, HAL has a 9000 twin on Earth (the Jekyll to his Hyde), and his "character" is defined by shots of his eye, which recalls both the hominid's watchful look and the leopard's yellow stare, and by the sound of his voice (Douglas Rain), which imitates Floyd's language of calm reason. Through visual and dramatic associations, Kubrick both doubles Bowman and HAL and recalls the pairing of Moon- Watcher and Floyd. Bowman is first seen as a revolving and distorted reflection in HAL's eye (as he "descends" and rotates from the ship's hublink) and each experiences a journey into memory at the moment of "death." One ends with a song called "Daisy" and the other on a green and gold bed in an eighteenth-century room. Symbolically, HAL reenacts Moon Watcher's primitivism and Floyd's blindness when he becomes the first Cain in space and denies knowledge of the monolith. Bowman, by contrast, both reaffirms the humanity of that first struggle for life in a hostile environment and transcends the earthbound limitations of Floyd's vision. . . . Inside the spaceship, as Bowman is confronted with the loss of his Earth twin, his placid mask begins to break up as Keir Dullea indicates the first signs of his awakening and transformation. In his anxiety to rescue his twin, Bowman figuratively loses his head (he leaves his red helmet behind), the one that protects him from an airless space but insulates him from perception. From inside the pod, his face changes color and his eyes are framed in light as he searches the darkness and becomes the first character in the film to look through a window/eye in an act of spatial exploration. Symbolically, Bowman searches for himself, that earthbound twin whom he must shed before his eyes can open and experience the colors and shapes of the Star-Gate. He finds Poole -- now an object more like Discovery than like Bowman, floating in space like the shell of an extinct species -- and cradles Poole's body in the motherly arms of the pod, only to be denied entrance into a technological womb that aborts its children (hibernators), turns pods into weapons, and creates the sterile perfection of a reflexive universe. Bowman releases Poole's body into the darkness and uses the pod's explosive bolts to force his way through the red, uterine corridor of an emergency air lock. Not since MoonWatcher has a character in 2001 taken such a life-affirming action, although paradoxically Bowman's involves an act of divestment rather than accumulation. Once he chooses to survive and battle his way back into Discovery, Bowman begins a process in which he will shed a sense of self-identity (Poole as twin), the extensions of Reason and technology (HAL as alter ego), and the temporal reservoir of memory (eighteenth-century room). His prenatal breathing on the soundtrack and the use of handheld camera to film the scene internalize Bowman's last struggle against HAL's verbal authority ("Look, Dave. I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you should sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over"). Significantly, as he disconnects HAL amid the red and vertical enclosure of the Logic Memory Center, Bowman only speaks in reply to HAL's childish desire to sing a song ("Yes, I'd like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me"). He then gazes in wonder before the innocence of creation ("Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true,/I'm half crazy all for the love of you") and the experience of time (Floyd's prerecorded briefing). It is a backward journey for the film as well, a return to Moon- Watcher's legacy, one that not only reverses but nullifies time.
Back to Table of Contents.