[In 2001, these bolts fulfill a "positive" function; in DR. STRANGELOVE, the bolts fulfill a "negative" function. Note how the cinematic echoes the literal in the following piece of history . . .] While searching for SK's face reflected in Bowman's helmet glass . . . in 2001, I started to ponder the "CAUTION: EXPLOSIVE BOLTS" cuts of the pod doors. There are two full-frame cuts in the pod scenes. Now, for almost any other director, one could say that the cuts were simple foreshadowing but, IMHO, that would be far too heavy-handed for SK. Now, here's my thought -- not a theory, just a thought: I believe NASA personnel had some advisory input to the film. If so, SK might have gotten wind of the sad tale of explosive bolts in manned U.S. space flight. After the splashdown of the second Mercury capsule, Astronaut Gus Grissom almost drowned after explosive bolt circuitry accidentally fired, ejecting the hatch (and never mind about the movie "The Right Stuff". That whole damned thing was apocryphal) and sinking the spacecraft. NASA was very keen on eliminating failures of this magnitude, which failed to reflect elegant engineering. So keen, in fact, that the first series of Apollo command modules (i.e., "capsules") had non-explosive bolts securing the hatch. It took about 15 minutes to open a buttoned-up Apollo Block I spacecraft. During a countdown test in 1967, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee were killed when a flash fire spread through their buttoned-up Apollo spacecraft. Had the craft been equipped with explosive bolts . . . (J.G.)
Back to Table of Contents.